[Tweeters] Three Jay Day! (And, a Bar-tailed bust))

Houghton, Jon Jon.Houghton at hartcrowser.com
Fri Dec 18 21:58:42 PST 2020

Happy Holidays, Tweeterdom! Yesterday (Thursday), Kathleen and I headed south and west to re-acquaint ourselves with the Longbeach Peninsula, which we hadn't visited for way too many years, and, oh yes, try to find the Bar-tailed Godwit (s?) that had been hanging for several weeks with the many Marbled Godwits feeding in the Nahcotta area of the bay. It had been reported a couple of days earlier and again yesterday morning so we felt like our chances were pretty good. Our plan was to devote Thursday afternoon and Friday morning to the Bar-tailed search, and then return home, somewhat deviously, via the Ridgefield NWR where we might find a Red-shouldered Hawk and if really lucky, the (one) White-fronted Ibis that has been intermittently sighted there over the last few weeks. We rated the Ibis as a long shot. On Wednesday, Bruce LaBar and others reported sighting a Blue Jay at a feeder just south of Tacoma, adding a new candidate to our trip target list. Thursday morning, we stopped by the Blue Jay location and were gratified to hear from David Richardson that the bird had just flown across the road and to learn that Bruce and Wayne Sladek, both top Pierce Co. birders were there and searching. Very shortly, Wayne sighted the bird in the wooded area on the south side of 104th Street East and got us all on it. Check one target, and off to Willapa. By the time we arrived at Nahcotta, the tide was well up into the salt grass fringe of the bay, leaving little room for godwits. Failing to find them waiting out the high tide on little-used floats or barges, as we often see in Tokeland and Westport, we went off on a tour of the northern tip of the Longbeach Peninsula. This lovely area has great habitat for birds (including the Martha Jordan Nature Trail - way to go Martha!), and what has to be the most picturesque little town in Washington - Oysterville. It was there, that we saw our first CA Scrub Jay of the day, making for a 3-Jay Day, our first, I believe! The trails from the State Park into the NWR have some uniquely attractive vegetation communities we've not seen elsewhere: a great area for migratory passerines, no doubt, but...yesterday, it was pretty bird free. This morning, we returned to Nahcotta and quickly found one small (7) and one large (ca. 200) flock of Marbled Godwits - beautiful and striking birds, but all very buffy, no smaller gray ones that might be Bar-tailed. After 2 hours of back and forth scoping out these same groups of birds but finding no other flocks, we headed for Ridgefield, via Astoria. On our first of two loops around the S Unit driving tour, we had a brief but poor look at what we concluded was a Red-shouldered Hawk just south of the rest stop and (now closed) viewing blind. On around the south end of the loop we were looking hard to the north for the Ibis which had been seen there yesterday by Shep Thorp. While searching the fringes of a mudflat in the area, I got a flurry of dark wings in the side of my bins that proved to be attached to the Ibis! So...3 of 4 targets found for the trip, with the most probable target (Bar-tailed Godwit) missed, and the longest shot (White-fronted Ibis) providing the best looks. I guess this is what makes birding such an engaging and (often) rewarding activity, especially in Covid Times. I have to believe that next year will be better in so many ways. Happy Birding! - Jon Houghton, Edmonds
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