[Tweeters] More Rustic Bunting details
cmborre1 at gmail.com
Fri Dec 9 08:12:01 PST 2016
On Tuesday, December 6, Asta and I were driving back from checking out
birds on the jetty in Neah Bay. It was about 1pm and we were driving back
towards town on Boom Road (clearly marked on Google maps). We were about
20 yards before the iron structure on the right (if driving towards town),
when Asta, who was driving, spotted juncos and what she thought was a
White-crowned Sparrow feeding on the ground to the left of the car.
Asta did not have binoculars so I looked at the bird through the windshield
with binos. I considered a short list of what it was not, and my mind
flashed on Rustic Bunting. I checked my app as Asta shot pictures from the
car and it certainly looked like that was our bird.
We exited the car for better views and pics, but the birds soon flushed.
We worked for about 30-40 minutes trying to re-find the birds including
pishing, playing junco alarm calls, pygmy owl, and Rustic Bunting calls
from Xeno-canto. None of these techniques produced any birds, so we left
to continue our day.
We ran into Michael Hobbs earlier in the day and saw him again on Back
Track Rd/Makah Passage. We told him about the bunting and he told us about
finding the gnatcatcher. This was about 2:45pm and he went to look for the
bunting and we quickly picked up the gnatcatcher at a house in town.
We returned to Boom Rd. and saw Michael walking the road about mid-way from
the entrance to the parking area before the right turn onto the jetty. We
mentioned that the bird was previously associated with juncos and he said
he hadn't seen any birds. We drove down and parked toward the end when I
noticed birds foraging on the ground in the flat grass near where Michael
had parked. I got out of the car, scanned with binos and quickly saw the
bunting with several juncos. We both got pictures and video for a few
minutes, then Asta walked back to find Michael. She found him further down
the road toward town and they both jogged back to where I was with the
We all got to watch the feeding birds for about 10 minutes, then they
flushed across the road into some brush. We could still study the bunting,
which again flushed toward the beach. We followed onto the beach and were
able to continue watching the birds feeding on the ground toward the
brush. They flushed again after 10 minutes and we lost them for the day.
I did not hear the bunting call during the first day of sightings. It was
associated with juncos both times we found it. It was feeding on the
ground during most of the viewings we had that day. When it flushed to
brush, it was typically on lower to mid-level branches.
The next day we returned and found Bruce Labar and John Gatchet already
looking for the bird at the parking area before the right turn to the
jetty. John wisely was spreading bird seed. We looked together a bit and
walked up the road somewhat separated. I walked all the way back toward
the entrance as I noticed some juncos flush as we drove in. I scanned with
binoculars, but didn't see any birds. I was alone at this time.
I then decided to return back to the parking spot via the beach. After a
short walk, a noticed a couple juncos landing in the brush. Scanning, I
was able to find the bunting with them. I tried phoning Asta, Bruce and
finally got John who started heading down on the beach. The bird flushed
as John was still a good distance away and flew high along the trees toward
him. I pointed as this was happening, but John didn't see me pointing or
the bird. We lost the bird and could not relocate it for sometime. I did
hear the bird calling with a high-pitched "tinkle" as it flew. This
surprised me as it didn't vocalize yesterday and the conditions were much
windier the second day.
We were shortly joined by Matt, Blair, Brian and Nate and the group
continued hunting. I believe it was Nate that relocated the bird in the
brush between the beach and the road (from the road). Brian and Blair were
on the beach side. Again, we had found the bird with some juncos and other
sparrows, however they were all very reclusive in the brush. I think the
wind on the second day played a large factor in the difficulty finding and
viewing the bird. During our viewing, the bunting did come down and drink
from the stream Matt referred to in his post which is between two pink
ribbons on brush near the road.
The key to finding the bird for me is locating juncos. It's my hope that if
the wind isn't a factor, they may return for John's seed. Don't forget to
walk the beach looking up at the brush toward the road.
Good luck to anyone searching for this bird. I hope this additional
information will be of use to you.
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