[Tweeters] Common Tern, Baird's Sandpiper, more at Montlake Fill

Louis Kreemer lpkreemer at gmail.com
Tue Sep 11 15:41:23 PDT 2018

Hi Tweeters,

Connie Sidles and I had a most wonderful day at the Fill. I'll try to keep
this reasonably brief. We started the morning with some passerine movement
around Wedding Rock and the Alder Grove, mostly Yellow Warblers but also
Orange-crowned, Pacific-slope Flycatcher and empidonax sp. A Common Raven
calling from around Yesler Swamp was my Fill first. Down at the lake we
quickly found a Red-necked Grebe, a nice surprise and new for the year
list. Among the California, Ring-billed and Mew Gulls loafing on the mud
island in the bay were several Killdeer and a peep. The distance was a bit
of an issue, but after much deliberation we settled on Baird's Sandpiper,
due to a fairly long, straight bill, soft streaking on the breast, even
scalloping on the scapulars, reasonably long primaries, an overall light
brown, and size compared to the Killdeer. I don't believe one had been seen
there for several years.

We had Common Tern on our minds today because of the one reported from the
Cedar River mouth yesterday, but we were regardless amazed to notice a
petite tern out on a small mud island while we were west of Main Pond. Once
we hustled back to East Point for closer views, we noted an extensive dark
cap, thin red/darkish bill, dark primaries and fairly long orangish legs.
In flight the tail was not very long, and while the bird was perched the
tail didn't reach the end of the primaries. We agree that this was a basic
plumage adult Common Tern, so likely different from the apparent juvenile
down south. It was very cool to watch the bird fly around the bay a bit,
and it may have had success on its foraging dives. When a Caspian Tern
displaced it we got to see the great size difference between them. I left
the bird at 1:20 PM, and it was on the same small mud island in front of
the large mud island off of East Point. We watched it for about an hour and
it seemed content with sticking around, though it did roam out almost all
the way to 520 once before heading back to its perch. This was a Fill first
for both of us. Connie thought that Common Tern hadn't been seen at the
Fill for thirty years, yet to be proven with a check of the records, but at
any rate a very exciting bird and morning for us!

Louis Kreemer
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