[Tweeters] Cowlitz County birding

Jim Danzenbaker jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
Mon Feb 22 10:12:43 PST 2016

Hi Tweeters,

Ann Nightingale, Shawneen Finnegan, Dave Irons and I enjoyed a full day of
birding yesterday. We started at the River "S" unit of Ridgefield NWR in
Clark County where the highlights were a drake EURASIAN WIGEON, a pair of
GREAT-HORNED OWLs, a MERLIN, thousands of CACKLING GEESE, and a single
early BARN SWALLOW. Then the rain started - it was a cold rain, it was a
persistent rain.

We decided to migrate north to Cowlitz County. Our first stop was at the
Port of Kalama where the log booms were loaded with gulls - at least 1,000
in all which included several Western Gulls, at least 500 Mew Gulls, and
lesser numbers of California, Thayer's, Herring, Glaucous-winged and
various large hybrid gulls. Also present were three Ring-billed Gulls
which finished a clean sweep of the expected gull species.

Afterwards, we visited Woodland Bottoms (accessed from the Dike Access Rd
exit on I-5 - pages 243-244 in the 1st edition of "A Birder's Guide to
Washington"). If you haven't visited this area, you are missing a lot!
During the next several hours, we tallied hundreds of SANDHILL CRANEs, 3
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKs, many Northern Harriers and Red-tailed Hawks, and an
assortment of the expected passerines in the numerous weedy fields and
roadside woodlands. The highlight of the day came near the end when we
reached the Lewis River (south end of Woodland Bottoms which forms the
border of Cowlitz and Clark Counties). From one vantage point, we watched
a conservatively estimated 4,000 gulls, 100+ Bald Eagles, 78 Common
Mergansers, several hundred assorted scaup, and miscellaneous other ducks
that were attracted to a smelt run. To have this many birds feeding right
in front of us was truly spectacular!

We ended our visit to Woodland Bottoms at the north end where we watched 8
SHORT-EARED OWLSs and at least a dozen Northern Harriers starting and
ending their hunts. It was incredible to see three Short-eared Owls rise
up and circle around with a full moon in the background. It was the first
time I had seen the moon in a long time!

I ended up with 39 new Cowlitz County birds which was ridiculous
considering I live only 15 miles from Cowlitz County!

Keep your eyes and ears skyward.


Jim Danzenbaker
Battle Ground, WA
jdanzenbaker at gmail.com
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