[Tweeters] WOS field trip to Mason County 24 March 2019

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Mon Mar 25 05:27:31 PDT 2019

Hi all -
Yesterday, I led my 10th annual Mason County spring trip. A dozen of us scoured the county to see what we could find at the pivot between winter and spring. It was a fun day with lots of birds, but also a surprise arrival of fog to drive down species count.

We began up on the Tahuya Peninsula trying for Mountain Quail — though we were able to hear distant Mountain Quail calling, they once again remained very elusive and not cooperative [this is a theme for this trip — scouting last week had them popping right out and showing well…..] We had nice looks at Yellow-rumped Warbler singing, a Mourning Dove, Hutton’s Vireo and heard many singing Brown Creeper, seemingly everywhere around us.

Moving down to the canal at Belfair State Park, we were surprised to find the fog had descended to make viewing the water nearly impossible. Red-breasted Mergansers were displaying close to shore, and a Greater Yellowlegs was a nice find in the fog. Rather than walk around in the fog, we headed south to where the fog was lifted. At Twanoh SP, we enjoyed close looks of Barrows & Common Goldeneyes, and had many Red-necked Grebes coming into breeding plumage more distantly, as well as Common Loons in various levels of molt. A stop at Union added White-winged to Surf Scoters along with Greater Scaup. Hunter Farms still had its flock of Greater White-fronted Geese. Along Purdy Cut-off Rd., we got glimpses at Trumpeter Swans and our only Hooded Merganser & Ring-necked Ducks of the trip.
George Adams Hatchery had a nesting pair of American Dipper working on building their nest under the bridge. Along Skokomish Valley Rd., we saw 11 Turkey Vultures - several more along the way later too. Up FR 23/2340, we got on a pair of Western Bluebirds - always nice to see in the clearcuts.
At our lunch break at Potlatch, we enjoy the big Western Grebe flock that winters at the base of the Hood Canal, and several distant Red-throated Loons. Skokomish community park had Harlequin Ducks and a hybrid wigeon that almost had us counting a Eurasian Wigeon.

At Kennedy Creek Natural Area, the tide was waaay out, but we were able to find Black-bellied Plovers and Dunlin way out there. Back up in Shelton, we added things like Anna’s and Rufous Hummingbird, California Scrub-Jay and House Sparrow

We ended the trip at Theler Wetlands in Belfair - and proved how much better morning birding is than late afternoon birding - it was quiet - except for Marsh Wrens, very little to see.

For the day, I believe we came up with 74 species — other than the fog, the weather was one of those great spring days to be outside enjoying the Hood Canal and Mason County.

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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