[Tweeters] Skagit March Big Day

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 11 07:32:06 PDT 2019

Dear Tweeters,
On Saturday the ninth of March, three of us did a Skagit County Big Day. Kurt Ranta, Jeff Osmundson and I followed Kurt's well-planned itinerary, for what Kurt has dubbed a Power Day.
We identified 115 species for the group as a whole, with individual totals just a species or two shy of that. 
After owling a few spots, mostly on Fidalgo Island, we visited Washington Park, Rosario Head, and several nearby spots, working back to March Point, then Samish Flats and Samish Island, down to Fir Island, and finally rushing over to Francis and Thilberg Roads. After having attempted a century day in January, and narrowly missing, I was pleasantly surprised with what seemed like a luxurious amount of daylight hours.
We had good luck with a few rare or very uncommon birds. Five SURFBIRDS were at Rosario Head, although there were no Black Turnstones. The NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD in Anacortes required nothing beyond a thirty-second drive-by. At Samish Island Public Beach, the young male BLACK SCOTER showed up for us. The BLACK PHOEBE was its usual cooperative self at the Fir Island Game Range. We saw an early TREE SWALLOW at Hayton Reserve; at Thilberg Road, we managed to glimpse the SWAMP SPARROW after a lengthy search, and the WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at DeBay Slough gave us good views in the failing light of dusk. Another good bird was a silent Steller's Jay that perched up on a tree along Sharpe Road. This species is much harder in western Skagit County than it is upriver, so we counted ourselves lucky, not having to make a time-consuming visit to anybody's bird-feeder for the jay.
The birds we missed included Cackling and White-fronted Goose, Merlin, Black Turnstone, Marbled Murrelet, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Short-eared Owl, Hermit Thrush, Northern Shrike, and Orange-crowned Warbler. Of those, I would say that the most surprising and frustrating miss was the Short-eared Owl, followed closely by the Saw-whet and the Marbled Murrelet.
The only Peregrine of the day was one that Kurt glimpsed as the very last bit of light was vanishing at DeBay Slough. We saw only one American Kestrel and one Rough-legged Hawk all day.
I know we had a good run because of my experiences the day after. For once, I did not have a single species of bird turn up in my yard the day after having missed it on a Big Day! 
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch

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