[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Weekly Walk - Wednesday 25 April 2018

festuca at comcast.net festuca at comcast.net
Wed Apr 25 21:08:26 PDT 2018

Hi folks,

It was a beautiful day in the south Puget Sound for today’s Wednesday Bird Walk at Nisqually NWR. Our USFWS Volunteer ‘leadership’ was absent, and we sincerely missed Phil Kelley, Eric Slagle, Russ Smith, and Shep Thorp who were out for a variety of reasons. So, I was ‘elected’ to be the leader of the walk. Thirty-two of us started along on the “usual” route - from the Visitors' Center to the Environmental Education Center, through the old orchard, around the service road and back to the west side of the loop trail boardwalk to the Twin Barns.

We missed the expected sapsucker in the orchard, but saw lots of Audubon’s and Myrtle Yellow-rumped Warblers in their spring finery, as well as many Orange-crowned Warblers. A number of birders had good views of a Nashville Warbler in an orchard apple tree. We noted that the Anna’s Hummingbird nest in the pear tree was empty, but have no information whether the nest failed or if it was successful and the birds have fledged. There were at least four male Rufous Hummingbirds in the orchard area, and great views of others throughout the walk. The large flocks of Cackling Geese were not on the Refuge today, and have apparently departed for their nesting grounds on the outer coast of the Yukon-Kuskokwim Delta in western Alaska

We walked along the west side of the boardwalk loop to the Twin Barns’ overlook, then went out on the dike between the freshwater marsh and the estuary reclamation area, and saw several broods of newly-hatched Canada Goose goslings. Most of the participants turned back at the estuary, as usual, but the “determined hard-core” continued out to the north end of the estuary overlook. The tide was coming in, concentrating the flocks of Least Sandpipers, and we finally got views of a couple Western Sandpipers mixed in the flocks, as well as some Greater Yellowlegs. A dark, streaked Peregrine made a pass past a Bald Eagle, and there was an adult on the south Eagle nest, but no young were seen. A Purple Martin called over our heads, and we saw more Martins at the Luhr Beach nest boxes.

We couldn’t see much out onto the Nisqually Reach due to heat shimmer, but did pick up the expected birds - including the Spotted Sandpiper along McAllister Creek. The flock of Black Brant continue out on the mudflats of the estuary; they should soon be following the Cackling geese to the Y-K Delta. On the way back to the dike, we watched a Merlin make a few passes at the sandpiper flocks, but it appeared to come up empty-taloned.

The walk to the Nisqually River overlook and along the boardwalk back to the Visitors’ Center was full of warblers - mostly Yellow-rumps, along with quite a number of Orange-crowns, and we picked out a Wilson’s Warbler, another Nashville Warbler in a big-leaf maple, and Kyle L’s sharp ear revealed a FOY Pacific-slope Flycatcher.

We saw 78 species of birds "(+10 other taxa)", as well as eastern cottontails, muskrats, Columbian Black-tailed deer, and a Chickaree (Douglas’ squirrel). There were several Harbor seals in McAllister Creek. And, garter snakes, Pacific chorus frogs, and Red-eared Sliders (turtles) seen along the route.

The eBird list for the day is at: https://ebird.org/pnw/view/checklist/S44950445

Here’s hoping to see you at the Wednesday walks. Meet at 8 a.m. at the Visitors’ Center for good birds, good people and good times!


- Jon. Anderson

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