[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR - Wednesday July 25, 2018

Jon. Anderson and Marty Chaney festuca at comcast.net
Wed Jul 25 21:08:40 PDT 2018

Hello folks,

32 birders showed up at 8 a.m. at Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge Headquarters today for the weekly “Wednesday Bird Walk” on a clear 58° morning. The Visitors’ Center pond was pretty quiet, and is lush with the native water-shield (Brasenia schreberi) and yellow water lily, but few birds. Our usual route took us to the Environmental Education center and old Brown’s Farm orchard, where we had quite an array of adult and immature passerines. The main ‘draw’ is a Cascara buckthorn tree that is full of ripening berries which attracted many CEDAR WAXWINGS, AMERICAN ROBINS, SWAINSON’S THRUSHES, and WESTERN TANAGERS. We saw WARBLING VIREOS and several YELLOW WARBLERS. WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES and a couple WILLOW FLYCATCHERS were calling.

We continued out the service road around the south side of the parking area, seeing more of the same. Our first BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER was seen in the big leaf maples and Oregon ash trees. A distant view of the OSPREY nest on the cell tower south of I-5 revealed at least one bird on the nest and one bird flying. The large numbers of swallows have dispersed, although we still have quite a few BARN SWALLOWS and their young. Other swallows included TREE and CLIFF, and one NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW was found. We “dipped” on VIOLET-GREEN and BANK SWALLOWS this morning.

Walking along the west side of the Twin Barns boardwalk, we found several flocks of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEES and good views of DOWNY WOODPECKER, BROWN CREEPERS, more YELLOW WARBLERS, SWAINSON’S THRUSHES and the pewees, and heard PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER. Some of the birders were treated to a fly-by MERLIN. An adult female RED-SHAFTED FLICKER was on the ground, interacting with an immature, when an adult male dropped down to join the pair. At the Twin Barns, we took a short snack break, as the overlook was pretty quiet, then went out onto the dike.

Today's Nisqually Reach tides included a -0.88-foot low tide at 11:06 am, beginning to flood toward a +13.20-foot high water at 6:46 pm. So, the estuary restoration area was bereft of birds, and what ‘action’ there was occurred south of the dike in the Reed Canary-grass and cattail marsh. Many RED-WINGED BLACKBIRDS, EUROPEAN STARLINGS, and young BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS were working the marsh. A few MALLARDS were in the small open water at the east side of the cattails, and three CINNAMON TEAL showed from behind the tules. While we watched the ducks, a VIRGINIA RAIL scooted from one patch of cattails to another.

Most of the birders turned back at the base of the estuary boardwalk at 11 a.m., as the temperature had risen to 80° F, with few birds seen in the tidal mudflats. Five intrepid birders took the one-mile walk out to the end of the boardwalk, with good views of BELTED KINGFISHERS, GREAT BLUE HERONS fishing for surf perch, and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, & GLAUCOUS-WINGED, RING-BILLED, and CALIFORNIA GULLS feeding on Pacific sand-lance. A number of BALD EAGLES were also hunting the flats, with one seen catching a starry flounder. A second-cycle BONAPARTE’S GULL continues along the boardwalk.

Returning to the Nisqually River overlook and back to the Visitors’ Center along the east side boardwalk, we had more great views of the YELLOW WARBLERS, thrushes, pewees, and chickadees, and heard PURPLE FINCH. The ‘early’ group found another BLACK-THROATED GREY WARBLER. The ‘late’ group found a female-type MACGILLIVRAY’S and an immature YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. At the Riparian overlook, a foraging WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE and a pair of CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES provided good looks. It was 90° F when the last of the Wednesday walkers finished at 3:30 p.m.

Mammals seen included eastern gray squirrel, eastern cottontail, and Columbian Black-tailed deer - including a spotted fawn.

The refuge volunteers host bird walks every Wednesday at 8 a.m. at the Visitors’ Center. Everyone is welcome, and experienced birders are always happy to share their knowledge and point out birds to all. Hope to see you out there. Today’s eBird list is on line at



- Jon. Anderson

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