[Tweeters] Skagit Co Rusty BB & S Cranes & Stilt Sand

Marv Breece marvbreece at q.com
Tue Oct 4 13:17:34 PDT 2016

Yesterday was a good day on Fir Island.

The dark, early morning at Jensen Access brought a PEREGRINE FALCON zooming by at waist level at breakneck speed. A blink by me would have meant a miss. A bit later, SNOW GEESE flew over in numbers, heading out to feed. A few MINIMA CACKLING GEESE were mixed in. Didn't see any white-fronts yesterday. A few vocal LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS flew by as did a GREATER YELLOWLEGS or 2. A NORTHERN HARRIER hunted the dike as I have seen so many times before.

In the afternoon at Jensen Access, I saw 30 to 40 BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS working the beach. A single BARN SWALLOW flew by. (There were a few more Barn Swallows over Rawlins Road later.) An AMERICAN KESTREL hovered and kited above the field. As I was leaving the parking area, 3 SANDHILL CRANES flew over the dike and landed on the beach at the water's edge. Sandhill Cranes on saltwater. Not typical in my experience.

Morning at the Game Range (Wylie Slough)
A note here about language. When I began birding Fir Island whenever that was, I called this place Skagit Wildlife. Then I conformed to refer to it as the (Skagit) Game Range. I predict that in 5 years all or most will call it Wylie Slough. Seems to be moving in that direction. Just like Des Moines, WA near Sea Tac (the 2nd S is sounded) is slowly becoming Des Moines (no S sound at all). Who wants to look stupid. Right? Onward. An OSPREY remains. I heard a SORA a few times. Lots of VIRGINIA RAILS were vocalizing. A male PILEATED WOODPECKER was working a snag a few feet from the ground. At the other end of the slough a carpenter was hammering nails. Stereo! All of a sudden a WILSON'S SNIPE took flight. I could hear PURPLE FINCHES. A nice assortment of sparrows showed up. AMERICAN ROBINS were all over the Game Range. On the move. Behind the first blind at water's edge were 24 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS. And carefully tucked in among them was a STILT SANDPIPER, molting from juvenal plumage to basic.

Afternoon at the Game Range was also productive. A young PEREGRINE FALCON appeared in a snag. Didn't stay long. There were a few CEDAR WAXWINGS feasting away. A beautiful adult SHARP-SHINNED HAWK flew in and perched for awhile. At the edge of the Game Range were a few WESTERN MEADOWLARKS and an AMERICAN PIPIT. PM pre high tide brought a lot more feeding shorebirds than in the AM. 50-60 GREATER YELLOWLEGS and even more LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS. I looked carefully for a short-billed without seeing or hearing any. Doesn't mean there wasn't one there. There were 5 or so LESSER YELLOWLEGS and 3 PECTORAL SANDPIPERS. Funny how the pecs seem more likely to fly in and out as a mono species group. The dark Pacific MERLIN did not disappoint. All of a sudden, it was perched atop a tall conifer and as I was looking in another direction, it departed. Finally, just before dark, a large flock of mostly BREWER'S BLACKBIRDS flew in. I know of a yellow-headed that was seen in this group recently. And there has been an interesting leucistic bird which I reported earlier. This time, the prize in the Cracker Jack Box was a male RUSTY BLACKBIRD. Too late in the day for photos. Still, a fine ending to a fine day.

A few attempts at images of Stilt Sandpiper, Western Meadowlark & Sandhill Cranes may be by viewed at:

The cranes were too far away for photos or videos really, so here's what I call a "context video" of the cranes:

Good birding!

Marv Breece
Tukwila, WA
marvbreece at q.com

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