[Tweeters] Samish to Skagit Deltas: Blue Jay - sure; Gyr - gone elsewhere?

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Tue Dec 12 19:59:02 PST 2017

Hi Tweeterdom - Today, Edmonds-ians, Sherrill Miller, Frank Caruso and I took advantage of the continuing nice (OK - weird) weather, and had a leisurely tour to the north. We started out at the newly minted "Blue Jay Place" on Bow Hill Rd. east of Bow (and just east of the RR tracks). (The resident,Barry, has been most accommodating to birders so let's keep up our good behavior - contributions of seed will likely be much appreciated.) Since last Saturday, Barry has added a new feeder on a post on the north side of his apple orchard where the Blue Jay was coming consistently between 9 and 10 this morning. This is easily viewed from the south shoulder of Bow Hill road. A lifer for Sherrill and a state bird for me. We went on through Edison (no Merlin seen) and out through the north, east and west 90s. The number of raptors out there continues to amaze! Bald Eagles, Rough-legged Hawks, Red-tailed Hawks, and No. Harriers, seemed to be everywhere. At the West 90, we also saw a couple of Short-eared Owls hunting, at first far out by the dikes, but as we were leaving, one cruised close by the parking lot. We went south on the Bayview-Edison Rd. as far as Rt. 20 and back again to the north, checking out D'Arcy Road and Sullivan Road: No Prairie or Gyrfalcons but we had a nice sparrow interlude at the new WDFW access just north of Sullivan Road, with several Lincoln's along with several other species. We also visited the Samish Bay overlook at the county park on Samish Island where we met up with Andy McCormick and a group from Eastside Audubon and had pretty decent looks at a surprising (to me, at least, cuz this was another FOY!) number of Ancient Murrelets. Probably the days highlight though was seen at a stop at the new Hayton restoration area on Fir Island - as we drove in at high tide - no room at the mudflat - we saw huge numbers of Dunlin in flight, off to the east. Their predicament was obvious - no tide flats, and few floating logs out in the bay for refuge. And, their continued flight was accelerated by a Merlin that made frequent passes into their masses. When the Merlin backed off and perched for a while, many of the Dunlin sought to settle on some floating logs over the flooded flats, some competing vigorously for perch room. Very entertaining, yet the bulk of the birds (3 to 5 thousand??) continued to fly back and forth. Then a Peregrine came and sat in the Bald Eagle nest tree near the parking area, only about a meter from a perched eagle. At one point the Peregrine took flight and made an unsuccessful pass at the Dunlin out of our view, then came back empty-taloned and sat with the eagle again to build up it's appetite. Great show!! - Jon Houghton, Edmonds

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