[Tweeters] WOS Field Trip to Mason County 25 March 2018

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 26 05:07:04 PDT 2018

Hi all -
Yesterday I led 4 cars full of eager birders on a WOS field trip around Mason County —We had a great crew of birders and saw a good number of spring arrivals and winter lingerers. Weather was mighty cooperative for the day, with sun and temps that started near freezing but reached low 50s by the end. Only came across a few sprinkles during our trip up into the hills in the early afternoon.

We began with a trip onto the Tahuya Peninsula at Elfendahl Pass — the target there was Mountain Quail, and we struck out pretty much absolutely - not even a distant maybe response — in fact, the birds up at that area were notably quiet compared to other years — we had to work to pull out heard-only Fox Sparrow, Pacific Wren, Mourning Dove,Yellow-rumped Warbler and distant looks at Purple Finch —

At Belfair State Park, we were happy to have birds to look at! Among the wide variety of ducks, we had a probable Common x Barrow’s Goldeneye. Among shorebirds we had the long-present Marbled Godwit, several Greater Yellowlegs, a flock of Dunlin and Killdeer. It was also the first spot where we were hearing the spring sound of pugetensis White-crowned Sparrows singing away.

At Theler Wetlands we were greeted by swallows - nice-sized flock of Tree & Violet-green Swallows sure adds to the spring-like feel of a birding day We walked the loop and were rewarded with close looks at three of the lingering Western Bluebirds hanging out close to the path. We enjoyed looks at American Kestrel and Peregrine Falcon, two courting Bald Eagles locking talons, a Red-tailed Hawk perched and two Turkey Vultures soaring by. A Lincoln’s Sparrow popped up for decent looks in the marsh, and we were able to track down and bring out a calling Hutton’s Vireo for close looks.

Stops at Twanoh State Park and Union to look out on the Hood Canal were good for seeing Surf and a few White-winged Scoters, Common & Red-throated Loons, Horned Grebes in every variety of plumage transition, & Red-necked Grebes looking mostly fully transitioned. We watched a Double-crested Cormorant choke down a flounder at close range as well.

At the Skokomish River delta, a quick stop gave us glimpses of two Northern Harriers working the fields.

At our lunch stop at Potlatch State Park, the best bird was a lingering apparent Bufflehead x Common Goldeneye hybrid — the very odd looking bird!

We enjoyed our first American Dipper of the day at George Adams fish hatchery - followed in a bit by our second at the Eells Hill Trout Hatchery, singing away. A trip up into the foothills of the Olympics to the High Steel Bridge was good for views, but offered little in the way of birds and our only sprinkles of the day. Taking Eells Hill Road, a stop gave us good looks at Western Bluebirds again, along with a cooperative Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Running short on time, we cut back on the stops at the south end of the county. A walk around the Mountainview Neighborhood of Shelton was good for a few more county-lister day birds: California Scrub-Jay, Eurasian Collared-Dove, House Sparrow, Anna’s Hummingbird and our only Downy Woodpecker of the day. And at Isabella Lake we found a large colony of Mason County-elusive American Coot, along with Lesser Scaup, Wood Duck, Pied-billed Grebe, & Hooded Merganser.

In all we came up with about 79 species on the day’s outing -

Thanks to all who joined in!

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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