[Tweeters] King County Big Day - 29 April 2018

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Mon Apr 30 05:52:19 PDT 2018

Hi Tweets
Yesterday [29 April 2018], Michael Hobbs and I ran a King County Big Day - We’ve done King Co Big Days maybe a dozen times in the past, but usually with a lot more planning. We were also worried this year about the late-coming spring migrants [it seems] and the fact that this was on the early side for a big day — so much will be arriving in a week or so. That said, running the day earlier gave us the advantage of hoping more winter birds would still be around.
In the end, the weather largely cooperated, and we had a great day with everything going smoothly and lots of birds popping up. We finished the day with 123 species - the record is 126, so we came close and probably had our 2nd or 3rd highest big day total ever for King Co [and we believe the April record for King Co]. I believe our ‘average’ for King Co big days hovers around 117.

Route & highlights:
We began on our home turf at Marymoor — Owls were not particularly cooperative, with only Barn Owl showing for us, but once it got light, the birds showed up. We managed 67 species in our run through Marymoor - A great start to tick off over half the day’s species. Highlights were mostly ‘regular’ birds, but we did enjoy a heard only California Quail [across the Weir], our first Black-headed Grobeak and Pacific-slope Flycatcher of the year, Hutton’s and Warbling Vireo, and a good showing from Wilson’s Warbler and still-lingering Ruby-crowned Kinglets [we expected them to be hard to come by].

Moving on, along Red Brick Rd. we added Cackling Geese, Least Sandpiper and a couple ducks, and had a tantalizing ‘maybe’ Swainson’s Hawk that we let go w/o a solid id.
A brief stop at Perrigo Park Ponds gave us 2 Solitary Sandpipers and a Spotted Sandpiper.
Next we moved over to the Snoqualmie Valley - Along W. Snoqualmie Valley Rd., we picked up Northern Harrier, Cooper’s Hawk, Sora, Northern Shoveler, and the ever desirable Eurasian Collared-Dove, Rock Pigeon & House Sparrow.

Along Cherry Valley Rd., from the Holy Innocents church parking lot, we picked up Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal. At Stoessel Crek we added Hairy Woodpecker, Hammnod’s Flycatcher, Varied Thrush and Black-throated Gray Warbler. At Lake Joy, we found Ring-necked Duck, Band-tailed Pigeon and Evening Grosbeak. And then along the Stillwater trail, we enjoyed great looks at an American Bittern, and had several Mourning Doves flying and calling.

Tokul Creek, still running high, did not have any Dippers available for us, but at Snoqualmie Falls we quickly found a perched Peregrine Falcon,. presumably on or close to the usual cliff-side nest.

Our next run was through the Kent Valley with the new birds coming more slowly.
Emerald Downs held a few nice flocks of peeps - we added Western Sandpiper - and Ruddy Duck & Lesser Scaup in the water.
I think it was about here when we hit #100 for the day - a bit ahead of our normal schedule. At Kent Ponds, w found our first American Coot of the day from the Grassy Knoll [several more followed], and California Scrub-Jay popped up on Frager Rd. 204th Street fields were hopping with American Pipits - not new for the day, but with over 200 there, it was fun to watch. Also in the area was a Western Meadowlark, an Amercian Kestrel, and a Great Horned Owl, being mobbed by a crow [thanks, crow!].

For our last big portion, we headed over to West Seattle for saltwater birds.
T-107 Park produced Caspian Tern, Barrow’s Goldeneye and Pigeon Guillemot. Jack Block Park had several Brandt’s Cormorant and Red-necked Grebe. At Duwamish Head, we added Western Grebe, and off Alki we added Brant, Surf Scoter, and Pelagic Cormorant. Moving around the corner to Constellation Park, we picked up Harlequin Duck, White-winged Scoter, Horned Grebe, Rhino Auklet, and Mew Gull. At Me Kwa Mooks, we added our last saltwater bird of the day, with Common Loon.

A stop in Lincoln Park hoping for Barred Owl was not successful, so we ended our West Seattle route with a return to T-107 Park, where at dusk the Purple Martins had returned to their gourds and were an overdue tick.

During the day, we’d recalled a spot we should have checked in the morning that we just forgot — Willows Rd north of Marymoor is flooded and is probably loaded with good birds — we headed there before calling it a day back at Marymoor, and could quickly hear another almost-embarrassing miss, Greater Yellowlegs.

Notable misses for the day:
Brewer’s Blackbird [sigh]
Northern Pintail
Fox or Lincoln’s Sparrow [we had hopes of a lingering one or two]
Nashville , Townsend’s & MacGillivray's Warbler
Western Tanager
more owls

Overall though, great day out there!

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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