[Tweeters] Nisqually Refuge weekly bird walk - 24 July 2019

Jon. Anderson and Marty Chaney festuca at comcast.net
Wed Jul 24 20:54:23 PDT 2019

Hi Folks,

This morning was deliciously cool (OK, I just got back from a cross-country trip where the temperatures and humidity were a bit higher…) and mostly sunny at the Refuge. The temperatures were from 60-77º F. Today's tide on the flats was a +9.00-foot high at 11:40 a.m., up from the low 6:04 a.m. water at +3.64 feet, so it would have been perfect for viewing shorebirds, if only they were in . . .

Twenty-six birders, from Olympia to Texas, met at the Visitors’ Center at 8 a.m. for the walk, led by our able leader Phil Kelley. Highlights included nice sightings of ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, YELLOW and WILSON’S WARBLERS and WILLOW and PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER. WESTERN WOOD-PEWEEs were pretty common.

Starting out at 8am at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook, we had nice looks at an immature BALD EAGLE being harassed by a RED-TAILED HAWK. Many BARN and TREE SWALLOWs were at the center, and all along our route through the day.

The Orchard was quiet, but we had nice looks of TREE SWALLOW, CEDAR WAXWING, and WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE. Along the Access Road we had good looks at a PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, which was a ‘target bird’ for Mark, our visiting Birder from Austin, Texas. Along the service road, a few BANK SWALLOW and VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW were seen mixed in with the other foraging TREE, BARN and CLIFF SWALLOWs.

On the west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, we observed a few MALLARD broods, including ducklings that were half-grown, to a few three-day old youngsters. As usual, there were NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW foraging over the Visitor Center Pond. We had great looks at YELLOW WARBLER feeding young, and a LOT of SWAINSON THRUSH, both adult

and young. BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE were seen, and a CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE was heard. We had nice looks at WILLOW FLYCATCHER in the area of the Twin Barns Cut-off. A LONG-TAILED WEASEL threatened to climb up the pants leg of one of the birders, but got away before a camera could be focused!

The Twin Barns Overlook revealed COMMON YELLOWTHROATS, as well as confirmation that the TREE SWALLOWS were still feeding their youngsters at the nest boxes.

The Nisqually Estuary "north dike" Trail provided views of RING-BILLED GULLS, but was otherwise pretty quiet. In the fresh water marsh on the inside of the dike, Hans spotted a VIRGINIA RAIL, and while we were watching it, a juvenile SORA foraged nearby, getting chased off by the rail. We observed many swallows including BANK SWALLOW, and a few MARSH WRENs. Out on the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, there is a colony of 40 plus CLIFF SWALLOWs nesting in the McAllister Creek Viewing Platform. The BALD EAGLE nests along McAllister Creek were empty, but adults and this year’s young were seen along the boardwalk.

Most birders had bailed by the time the group arrived at the boardwalk, but a few of us continued to the end, seeing BELTED KINGFISHER, and many RING-BILLED and dozens of CALIFORNIA gulls, along with several CASPIAN TERNs and a handful of GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLs. From the Puget Sound Observation Platform we scoped a single BRANDT'S CORMORANT on the channel marker, numerous DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT and GREAT BLUE HERON and BALD EAGLEs.

On our return, and from the west side of McAllister Creek, we heard the “Quick! Three Beers!” call of the OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, as well as the raucous calls of STELLER’S JAYS. The east side of the boardwalk loop was good for both BROWN, CREEPER, BLACK-CAPPED and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES. I hope the Texan, who left the group earlier, got looks at the Chessies!

At the Riparian overlook, there was a flock of BUSHTITs, a RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, and a few more CHESSIES.

The species count for the walk was 58 species. Mammals seen included an adult and a baby mink, coyote, 2 does and a fawn, Eastern cottontail, Eastern grey squirrel, the long-tailed weasel, and a dozen-and-a-half harbor seals. The Pacific Chorus frogs were out, as were the usual July wildflowers. It was a great day to be birding!!

Until next week when the Refuge Volunteers will welcome you at 8am at the Refuge’s Visitor Center, here’s wishing you excellent birding . . .

You can see the eBird Checklist for today’s walk at https://ebird.org/pnw/view/checklist/S58431516

- - - - -

Jon. Anderson


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