[Tweeters] the coast

Marv Breece marvbreece at q.com
Fri Apr 14 07:48:00 PDT 2017

Very early yesterday morning I found myself in my car heading to the coast. Well, OK.

I was surprised to see 5 TUNDRA SWANS at Brady Loop. Clearly tundras. All 5 with a nice fat yellow patch in front of the eye. I was hoping for a lingering Sandhill Crane, but no luck there. There was a TURKEY VULTURE, an OSPREY, a nice assortment of swallows, a couple NORTHERN HARRIERS, some GREATER YELLOWLEGS, but nothing too unusual.

At Hoquiam STP there were 2 RED-THROATED LOONS in one of the ponds. Not much else to write home about except for a MERLIN that zoomed by me low and went nose first into the foliage at the bank of the pond. I lost sight of it, wondering if the strike had been successful. A few minutes later, a crow dropped from a tree branch above and flushed the Merlin. The Merlin flew to the woods and perched high. It remained long enough for me to get a scope on it. Definitely a taiga and the color looked that of a female. A small murder of crows flushed it once more and the Merlin left the area. Damn crows!

I arrived at Bottle Beach at what I thought was 2 hours before high tide, but there was little remaining sand, and ZERO shorebirds. There were a few gulls about and 2 CASPIAN TERNS. Huge numbers of BRANT on the water. On the way to the car, one of those last gazes into the brush revealed a LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE. Nearly missed this gem altogether. It seemed to be hunting insects as it sallied out and back, occasionally dropping to the ground. My only other LOSH record for Grays Harbor County was one the Sullivan's found in 2004. I saw that bird on March 28 and again 2 weeks later, on April 11. Assuming it was the same bird. So perhaps the current bird will linger for others to see. I hope so. The day before, I had seen Michael's lingering Loggerhead Shrike(s) in Redmond's Marymoor Park.

At Graveyard Spit in Tokeland was a small group of CASPIAN TERNS. Also small numbers of SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHERS, BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, and WESTERN SANDPIPERS. At the marina a group of about 30 noisy MARBLED GODWITS flew by. There were 5 WILLETS as well.

On the way home, just east of Bottle Beach, I stopped to get a better look at a mixed flock of geese. Included were CANADA & CACKLING GEESE. A bit more study may have revealed several subspecies. Also in the flock was an adult SNOW GOOSE and 2 or 3 GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE.

I spotted an in flight COOPER'S HAWK along Wentzel Slough Road. The bird had a full crop and was packing something else to eat in its talons. Whatever it was must have been heavy, as the coop's flight seemed labored.

In spite of the chilly air and intermittent showers, the end justified the means.

Marv Breece
Tukwila, WA
marvbreece at q.com

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