[Tweeters] Informal Wednesday Walk Billy Frank Jr Nisqually NWR for
shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Jan 20 08:38:17 PST 2022
The volunteer program at the Refuge remains suspended because of the
Covid-19 pandemic. And the last 700 feet of the boardwalk, Nisqually
Estuary Boardwalk Trail, remains closed for hunting season. An informal
walk continues, meeting at 8am at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook on
Wednesday. 18 of us gathered for a nice dry cloudy winter day at the
Refuge with temperatures in the 40's degrees Fahrenheit and a High 14.59ft
Tide at 7:33am and Low 7.66ft Tide at 1:13pm. Highlights included Northern
Saw-whet Owl, continuing Red-shouldered Hawk, American Bittern, many
Red-throated Loon, Northern Shrike and FOY Barn Swallow.
Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook, we had great looks at
HOODED MERGANSER, RING-NECKED DUCK, BUFFLEHEAD and AMERICAN COOT. A
predominantly bachelor group of flashy Ring-necked Duck remains in the pond
and in afternoon light the maroon ringneck is often visible.
We decided to chase the tide and take the west side of the Twin Barns Loop
Trail towards the dike. The flooded fields west of the Access Road are
fabulous for enjoying waterfowl with thousands of CACKLING GEESE, minima
variety, and dozens of taverners variety. We enjoyed fabulous views of
NORTHERN SHOVELER, AMERICAN WIGEON, GREEN-WINGED TEAL, MALLARD and a single
EURASIAN WIGEON. The loop trail was great for GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, FOX
SPARROW, SPOTTED TOWHEE, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, BROWN CREEPER, BUSHTIT,
DOWNY WOODPECKER and SONG SPARROW. We were not able to relocate the Swamp
Sparrow seen earlier in the week.
At the Twin Barns Overlook, the slough adjacent to the trail has been
reliable for close camouflaged views of AMERICAN BITTERN. We also had
First Of Year BARN SWALLOW, approximately 20 birds flying overhead. From
the platform the RED-SHOULDERED HAWK can be heard and seen foraging along
the row of trees that line the access road heading west from the Twin Barns
then south towards the old McAllister Creek access road within the
restricted sanctuary. The Red-shouldered Hawk is an absolutely beautiful
bird, adult California type, with red head and breast, and black-and-white
checkered/barred mantle and tail. We had additional beautiful looks at
waterfowl and sparrows.
Out on the new dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail, we had great looks at BALD
EAGLE, RED-TAILED HAWK, NORTHERN HARRIER, PEREGRINE FALCON and AMERICAN
KESTREL. There was a large flock of over 1000 DUNLIN, and smaller flocks
of 50-100, that murmerated over the mud flats, occasionally hunted by the
two Peregrine Falcon in the area. The Surge Plain north of the dike was
good for GADWALL, and GREATER YELLOWLEGS. The grassy section has been
productive for WESTERN MEADOWLARK and an INTERGRADE NORTHERN FLICKER. Just
west of Leschi Slough on the mudflats, we had really nice looks of
SHORT-BILLED GULL, RING-BILLED GULL, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, and WESTERN X
GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL HYBRID. This was also a good place for close views of
foraging Dunlin, Greater Yellowlegs, Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon on
the falling tide at about 9ft. The fresh water side or inside of the dike
was also good for MARSH WREN and additional waterfowl.
The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail provided terrific looks of COMMON
GOLDEN-EYE, BUFFLEHEAD, SURF SCOTER, HORNED GREBE, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER,
and DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT. LEAST SANDPIPER are frequently found with
close inspection along the bumpy mudflats or pickleweed depending on the
tide. SPOTTED SANDPIPER was seen along the west bank of McAllister Creek.
We had close looks of two RED-THROATED LOON in McAllister Creek, and had
nice scope views of BRANT GEESE, BRANDT'S CORMORANT, PELAGIC CORMORANT, and
On our return, we picked up COMMON MERGANSER at the Nisqually River
Overlook. We had additional looks of Brown Creeper and Golden-crowned
Kinglet, and the Peregrine Falcon roosted in the tall Cottonwood Trees
above. The GREAT HORNED OWL was heard along the east side of the Twin
Barns Loop Trail near the beaver deceiver. As well PACIFIC WREN, BEWICKS
WREN and HAIRY WOODPECKER.
The Orchard was good for NORTHERN SHRIKE around the Education Center. We
also saw additional sparrows and kinglets.
On our walk we had fabulous views of a NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL roosting in a
tree. We had our looks from the trail, and observed white wash on the
ground below the tree from the trail. The Refuge has reminded us and other
birders to stay on the trails and the Refuge prohibits visitors from
walking off trail into protected sanctuary. Nisqually has many open areas
and deer paths that can be tempting to explore. However, the Refuge is
popular and frequently visited, and the Refuge managers want to protect the
sanctuary for the wildlife that are there to enjoy.
We observed 73 species for the day. Mammals seen Columbian Black-tailed
Deer, Harbor Seal, Coyote, Eastern Gray Squirrel, and Eastern Cotton-tailed
Be well, and happy birding,
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