[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk for 12.5.2018
shepthorp at gmail.com
Fri Dec 7 10:16:52 PST 2018
twenty of us enjoyed a cold one with temperatures in the 30's to 40's and
sunny skies. Highlights included HUTTON'S VIREO, TRUMPETER SWAN, PINE
SISKIN, VIRGINIA RAIL, SNOW GOOSE and PEREGRINE FALCON.
We started the morning at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am and had
nice observations of RING-NECKED DUCK, HOODED MERGANSER and BUFFLEHEAD.
The Orchard was good for GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, FOX SPARROW, and
RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER. Our group found a large mixed flock of
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, both KINGLET, and BROWN
CREEPER. In this group Kyle found a HUTTON'S VIREO which presented well
for many in our group, we also had nice looks of HAIRY WOODPECKER.
The flooded fields had good numbers of CACKLING GEESE, both minima and
taverner's. We enjoyed nice looks of RED-TAILED HAWK, and RUBY-CROWNED
KINGLET. A single gorgeous TRUMPETER SWAN circled around the fresh water
area within the dike but did not land for a visit.
The west side of the Twin Barns Loop Tail was good for BEWICK'S WREN,
SPOTTED TOWHEE, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, DOWNY WOODPECKER, BUSHTIT, BROWN
CREEPER, both KINGLET and DARK-EYED JUNCO. We observed several flocks of
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH with a few PINE SISKIN mixed in! The VIRGINIA RAIL
could be heard just north of the last observation platform before the
cut-off and seen walking on frozen pond ice around the Sedges. The Twin
Barns Observation Platform and area was good for NORTHERN HARRIER, NORTHERN
FLICKER, and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER.
Out on the new dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail, we appreciated increased
numbers of BALD EAGLE. Last week we had 10-15 birds and this week we had
20-25 birds with many immature Eagles. According to Jon, Nisqually River
has one of latest Chum Salmon Runs in the world, and December is a great
time to see upwards 50 Bald Eagle around the Refuge from now until the end
of the year. An immature PEREGRINE FALCON with dark brown plumage and
prominent supercilium was seen in the area of the surge plain, along with
AMERICAN KESTREL, NORTHERN HARRIER, RED-TAILED HAWK, COOPER'S HAWK, WESTERN
MEADOWLARK and LINCOLN SPARROW. With the high low tide of 6ft at 10am and
a high high tide of 14ft at 3pm, we were able to enjoy the overwhelming
numbers of AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL and AMERICAN WIGEON be gently pushed
closer towards the Trail and the edges of Leschi Slough. We estimated
approximately 4-5,000 Teal and 2-3,000 Wigeon. In the group we observed
two EURASIAN WIGEON and two AMERCIAN X EURASIAN WIGEON hybrids, we also
observed good numbers of MALLARD, NORTHERN PINTAIL and GADWALL. A few
NORTHERN SHOVELERS were seen as well. On the inside or fresh water side we
enjoyed three SNOW GEESE as well additional CACKLING and CANADA GEESE.
With plenty of waters edge and receding mud flats, 9-11ft is a great time
to enjoy the movement of Shorebirds and Gulls on the Nisqually Estuary
Boardwalk Trail. We had great observation of hundreds of DUNLIN and LEAST
SANDPIPER, presumed to be winter residents. As well, terrific looks at
many GREATER YELLOWLEGS and SPOTTED SANDPIPER. We had good looks of
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BUFFLEHEAD, RING-BILLED GULL,
MEW GULL, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, and WESTERN X GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL hybrid.
>From the closure gate 700ft short of the Puget Sound Viewing Platform, we
scoped RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, SURF SCOTER, and BRANDT'S CORMORANT on the
Channel Marker. The wreck just north of Red Salmon Slough and south of
Dupont was covered in Sea Lions, I suspect Steller's Sea Lions. Both
McAllister Creek and Nisqually River had California Sea Lions and Harbor
Seals indicative of the fish run. Gull were observed eating Salmon carcass
along the way.
A PEREGRINE FALCON swooped through and picked up a LEAST SANDPIPER prey,
flushing Waterfowl and Shorebirds. We enjoyed several displays of large
flocks fleeing predators or moving with the tide to forage prior to high
tide. Very nice murmurations of Dunlin.
On our return we picked up the GREAT HORNED OWL on the inside of the east
Twin Barns Loop Trail just north of the Beaver Dam. Bob had photo's
earlier in the week of two Owls, our breeding pair, so we hope for
successful breeding and incubation this winter. A Muskrat was foraging at
the base of the Beaver Dam. An additional WILSON'S SNIPE was observed
foraging in the area of the spring just to the right of the Visitor Center
Pond Overlook to help wrap up our walk.
Overall another beautiful day at the Refuge. Upwards of 70 species
observed with 167 species seen thus far on the Wednesday Walk for 2018.
Until we meet again next week at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook...
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