[Tweeters] Nisqually - Curlew Curse Continues - and windy day at Ocean Shores (long)

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Tue Sep 15 21:43:05 PDT 2015

Hi Tweets - Well, some days are like this. I started at Nisqually shortly after 7 and determined to stay until the Long-billed Curlew showed up. It was a gorgeous, sunny and calm morning for a brisk hike out the causeway (a brief stop at the twin benches did not reveal any waterthrush). The tide was still pretty high so I trucked out to the end through clouds (many hundreds at least) of mostly Violet-green Swallows crowding the rails and the few naked shrubs around the start of the boardwalk. They must have been staging for movement because they were mostly gone by 10 when I came back. Also passed through a concentration (dozens) of Savannah Sparrows farther out where the boardwalk crosses a higher elevation island - many of them were also sitting on the boardwalk and rails. Approaching the last pavilion, I scoped the bar that extends east from the structure and was excited to see a couple of long-billed shorebirds, a couple were IDs as the usual Whimbrels, but a couple more were tantalizingly out of view. Upon arrival at the end of the walk, it was obvious that there were none of the LBCU (this year's nemesis bird for me) that have been reported here for many weeks, but never seem to be about when I show up. I spent a couple of hours scoping all of the outer and inner bars and flats but found very few other shorebirds - a few distant flocks of Leasts and Westerns and some near the boardwalk on the way out; also, one distant Yellowlegs way north of the dike. There was a Great Egret up the Creek from the blind near the start of the walk, and a flyover by two Pectoral Sandpipers. So...I missed the Curlews for the 3rd of 4th time here, but it was a great and sunny morning with few other people around.

Leaving Nisqually, I headed for the coast. First stop at the Hoquiam STP ponds yielded a couple of nice Pectoral Sandpipers and a Dowitcher (NW corner of the East Pond). On to the Hoquiam STP where Blair B. had reported a Sharptailed SP on Sunday (I think), I found 6 Pectorals (sense a trend here?) along with a couple dozen Leasts and Westerns. Some photos I took may help make a Sharpie out of one of the Pecs, but, I'm skeptical. Wind was a severe problem here and continued at Oyhut, which I approached from the Tonquin Rd. access. Walking around the mostly bird-free first pond to the pickleweed and saltgrass flats, I put up numerous Savannah Sparrows and searched them hard for a Longspur - tough to tell with them and I teetering in the wind. On the south side of the pond, I noticed a juv. Peregrine sitting on a log eating a shorebird - probably Blair's Ruff, I assume, since it was nowhere to be seen. There were many hundreds of mostly Western peeps out there along with close to a hundred Semi-palmated Plovers. No Goldens and no other larger shorebirds to be seen except for a brief stop in by 2 wind-borne Whimbrels. The saving grace for Oyhut was a close (but brief) encounter with a gorgeous winter plumaged Lapland Longspur on that walk back through the salt grass. So - a long but mostly fun day, despite missing all my targets. The bad news was awful traffic from JBLM to Fife, but even this was made a little better by a Merlin flyover of the 27 lanes of stopped traffic around the Route 16 junction. Happy Birding!! -

Jon Houghton, Edmonds

More information about the Tweeters mailing list