[Tweeters] Skagit County big day, February 24
matt.dufort at gmail.com
Wed Feb 27 12:06:03 PST 2019
After doing a King County big day back in December, I started thinking
about the best spots in the state for seeing a lot of species on a single
winter day. Western Skagit County, with its combination of extensive
saltwater habitats, marshes, fields, and conifer forests, seemed like a
good area to try. So on Sunday the 24th, Spencer Hildie, Adrian Lee, and I
did a big day through Fidalgo Island, the Skagit and Samish Flats, and a
few nearby areas.
We started the day owling on Fidalgo, then hit Washington Park and Rosario
Head for waterbirds. We moved east via March Point to Fir Island, then
further east to Big Lake and the Francis/Lindgren/Thillberg Road area east
of Burlington. Then back to the northwest to the Samish Flats and Samish
Island, followed by a second round of nocturnal birding from Samish Island
down to Fir Island in hopes of finding owls and roosting shorebirds.
We ended the day with 116 species, bolstered by great diversity of
waterbirds and relatively few misses.
1) An awesome early-morning alcid flight at Washington Park's Green Point,
with 500+ Pigeon Guillemot, 20+ Marbled Murrelet, Common Murres, and a
single Rhinoceros Auklet.
2) The incredible feeding concentration of loons, gulls, and other
waterbirds at Rosario Head on the outgoing tide.
3) An Eared Grebe that showed itself at Ship Bay, as predicted by Adrian.
4) Continuing Black Phoebes and White-throated at Wylie Slough.
5) Swamp Sparrows (3 or more) on Thillberg Road at the base of the hill
just west of the dairy - thanks to Ryan Merrill for the tip!
6) The spectacle of thousands of geese, ducks, and swans flying over us on
the Samish Flats at dusk as they headed to their nighttime roosts. Snow
Geese are noisy!
Misses included Peregrine Falcon, Black-bellied Plover, and Bushtit, all
birds that are reasonably common in the area, but not shocking to miss. We
actually struggled to find a Killdeer almost until sunset, then found them
in several places on the Samish Flats.
It was a great day to be out! I'm now pondering where in the state one
could build a bigger day list in winter - perhaps the Grays Harbor /
Willapa Bay area, or Sequim/Dungeness? Something to think about for next
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