[Tweeters] fantastic shorebirding in Skagit

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Wed Aug 18 21:12:08 PDT 2021

Dear Tweeters,
Today, the 18th of August, there were lots of shorebirds in Skagit County. Many fortunate birders were out there looking at them.
This was the first time I'd managed to ID 18 species of shorebirds in one day in Skagit. When Marv Breece mentioned that he had seen that many on Monday, I thought it would take some very cooperative birds for me to match that. The birds cooperated.
At the Game Range on Fir Island, AKA Wylie Slough or the Headquarters Unit, where I birded twice today, there were these shorebirds:
KilldeerGreater YellowlegsLesser YellowlegsWilson's SnipeLB DowitcherSB DowitcherWestern SandpipersLeast Sandpipersone Semipalmated Sandpiper that gave only a brief view2 Stilt Sandpipers2 Pectoral Sandpipers.
I could not find any Solitary Sandpipers at the Game Range; I suspect they've moved on.
At Fir Island Farm Reserve (FIFR), formerly called Hayton Reserve, there were these shorebirds:
BB Ploverone American Golden Plover (qv)Semipalmated PloverKilldeer2 American Avocets (good spot by Bob Kuntz)2 Red-necked Phalaropes1 Stilt Sandpiper1 Baird's Sandpiper1 Pectoral Sandpiperabout 1000 Western SandpipersLeast SandpipersLB DowitchersSB DowitchersGreater YellowlegsLesser Yellowlegs
The bird that I am calling an American Golden Plover was definitely the same bird that I saw at FIFR on Monday the 16th with Marv and a few other birders. It is an adult just starting to moult out of breeding plumage, with a big white supercilium. I saw it in the scope today, as it was standing on the same algal mat where it had been foraging on Monday, and later it flew right past me, calling. The call matched the recording of AMGP that I played moments later. Everyone birding near me agreed that the call did not sound like a Pacific Golden Plover call. Later in the day, some other birders saw a Pacific Golden Plover there at FIFR. I wish I'd been there to see that one as well, but omnipresence is hard for mortals to achieve.
The Avocets stayed all afternoon and remained into the evening, as I later learned. What a great bird to see on the West Side!
After leaving FIFR, I determined that I needed to find one more species of shorebird to reach 18, so I went back to the Game Range. There were no Solitary Sandpipers, no other new shorebirds to see, but there were two Stilt Sandpipers instead of just one, and they were riding around on their "naumachia" logs, giving great views.
I would never have even gone birding today, except I had heard that Wilson's Phalaropes had been reported. I keep missing them! Mrs. Bletsch said, "Go find those phalaropes!" So off I went.
After seeing 17 species of shorebirds, I betook myself to Channel Drive, where the Spotted Sandpipers were bobbing in their usual spot. Eighteen species! There were also hundreds of Western Sandpipers there, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, a couple of Pectorals, a few Leasts, and both Yellowlegs.
Plus, the Mariners won again today!
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch
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