[Tweeters] Skagit birding, Bald Eagles attacking Great Blue Heron

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sat Jul 27 21:15:27 PDT 2019

Dear Tweeters,
Today there were some fun birds at Nichols Bar in Skagit County. This site is on Robinson Road, just west of Lyman, and has been confusingly renamed "Ann Wolford County Park," although there already had been a park with that same name near Concrete, at least until a few years ago.
Lots of Vaux's Swifts were flying over the river with various swallows, and there was at least one BLACK SWIFT up there with them. A flock of passerines included two Hutton's Vireos, a Red-eyed Vireo, and several Black-throated Grey Warblers. The river was low; I walked farther west than I ever have here, on firm mud. The only shorebird present was an adult Spotted Sandpiper. An interesting little black beetle with tiny yellow dots on its elytra was bumbling along on the mud here, quite far from any vegetation.
Later on I went to the Samish West Ninety. Two adult Bald Eagles attacked a flying Great Blue Heron. At first, the two eagles strafed the heron as it flew along the dike. Then one eagle left the chase to the other. This attacking eagle continued to chase the heron, which landed in shallow saltwater a few times. Again and again the eagle struck at the heron. I believe that the heron must have suffered some talon impalements during these attacks. The first few times it was driven to the water, it struck at the eagle with its bill, and the eagle would fly off. After a few of these bouts, the heron appeared to tire, and stayed in the water. The eagle seemed certain to be in luck. One or two more attacks would have done the trick--but then the eagle appeared to tire as well, and it flew off to join its partner. They perched on snags along the dike. After a few minutes, the heron flew up and headed away toward March Point. A few minutes later, I approached first one, then the other eagle. They both appeared quite tired--I was able to get within twenty meters of one, and less than ten meters from the other. 
There were at least three American Kestrels here, perhaps five. One female ate what I think was a grasshopper.
Shorebirds present included a Greater Yellowlegs, three Lesser Yellowlegs, a Long-billed Dowitcher, and a Killdeer. There were scores (but not hundreds) of Barn Swallows all over Samish Flats, but I didn't see any other species of swallow.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch
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