[Tweeters] Wednesday Walk for 5/4/2022
shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu May 5 12:04:55 PDT 2022
we had a nice day at the Refuge with partly cloudy skies and temperatures
in the 40's to 60's, it certainly has been a cool spring. There was a High
11.55ft Tide at 7:26am and a Low -1.23ft Tide at 2:38pm, so we skipped the
Orchard and south access road in the morning to make our way out to the
dike and Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail to make the most of the falling
tide. Highlights included FOY WILSON'S WARBLER, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK,
PURPLE MARTIN, BAND-TAILED PIGEON, and CALIFORNIA QUAIL calling from the
McAllister Hill west and north of the McAllister Creek Observation
Platform. We also had great looks of EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL,
PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, and a pair of NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOWS
carrying nest material into cavity in a Maple Tree at the Twin Barns
Starting out at 8am at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook, we had terrific
looks at RING-NECKED DUCK, WOOD DUCK, HOODED MERGANSER, and COMMON
MERGANSER. I suspect all but the Ring-necked Duck are nesting around the
pond in a nearby tree cavity. There are AMERICAN ROBIN and BARN SWALLOW
nesting at the Visitor Center. The last three weeks we have had a large
dark duck with a white supercilium that looks like a domestic x Mallard
hybrid in the pond, some features appear similar to Gargany which I don't
think it is, and photos were posted in my eBird report last week 4/27.
The flood fields on either side of the old McAllister Creek access road
were good for NORTHERN SHOVELER, NORTHERN PINTAIL, AMERICAN WIGEON,
AMERICAN GREEN WINGED TEAL and BUFFLEHEAD. There is plenty of mud with
waters edge so we had good looks of LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER, LEAST SANDPIPER,
and WESTERN SANDPIPER. Just south of the Twin Barns the EURASIAN
GREEN-WINGED TEAL continues in the flooded field (we only saw the Eurasian,
there have been sightings of a Eurasian x American hybrid as well). In the
afternoon Doug Martin spotted an American Bittern in the flooded field
south of the access road.
The morning chorus was spectacular with COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, SONG SPARROW,
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, YELLOW WARBLER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, WILSON'S
WARBLER, distant RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, VIRGINIA RAIL, and overhead TREE
SWALLOW, BARN SWALLOW and PURPLE FINCH.
The west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail was good for all the warbler
species. We also had sightings of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, CHESTNUT-BACKED
CHICKADEE, DOWNY WOODPECKER, RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, and RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD.
There are two active BALD EAGLE nests, one over the Twin Barns and the
other in a large Cottonwood Tree east side of the restored surge plain on
the west bank of the Nisqually River. Out on the new dike or Nisqually
Estuary Trails we had great looks of GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE, CANADA
GOOSE with goslings, CINNAMON TEAL and additional water fowl. I was
surprised there were not more shorebirds in the flooded fields adjacent to
the marsh, we also have not heard Sora. Perhaps with the nice weather they
all flew over the Refuge. STELLER'S JAYS were seen in the riparian stand
on the south side of the marsh. There were also reports of BLUE-WINGED
TEAL, PEREGRINE FALCON, AMERICAN KESTREL, and OSPREY.
The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail was great for SHORT-BILLED GULL,
RING-BILLED GULL, WESTERN/GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, and many CASPIAN TERNS
(30-40 birds). We have some banded terns and have observed courtship and
breeding. We also had great looks of COMMON MERGANSER, RED-BREASTED
MERGANSER, BUFFLEHEAD, GREEN-WINGED TEAL and AMERICAN WIGEON. Although the
overall number of waterfowl has decreased as expected, we did not see
Cackling Geese for the day. The McAllister Creek Observation Platform has
dozens of CLIFF SWALLOW nesting in the rafters of the roof. Along
McAllister Creek we observed SPOTTED SANDPIPER and flocks of BAND-TAILED
PIGEON. CALIFORNIA QUAIL and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK were clearly heard from
the McAllister Hill west of the creek. On the mud flats we had nice looks
of 6-8 WHIMBREL and small groups of LEAST SANDPIPER, WESTERN SANDPIPER and
DUNLIN. Interestingly, we only observed 1 GREATER YELLOWLEGS, whereas last
week we saw 30-40, so I suspect a recent migrational push of shorebirds
north. From the Puget Sound Viewing Platform we must have counted 50+ BALD
EAGLE out on the Nisqually Reach, there's got to be a lot of food for them,
probably both from the water and the air. We also added PURPLE MARTIN,
COMMON LOON, and both DOUBLE-CRESTED and BRANDT'S CORMORANT to our list.
The Twin Barns Overlook was good for EURASIAN WIGEON, YELLOW WARBLER,
AMERICAN GOLDFINCH and PINE SISKIN. We were unsuccessful in trying to
relocate the White-throated Sparrow seen over the weekend mixed in with the
flocks of GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW that remain around the Twin Barns. Jim
Neitzel located a nest hole in a Maple Tree at the Twin Barns cut-off where
a pair of NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW are collecting nesting material and
visiting the cavity. Usually Rough-wings nest in old Kingfisher cavities
in the banks of the McAllister Creek, this is the first time I've observed
them nesting in a tree in the riparian area.
The east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail was good for BROWN CREEPER and
numerous YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. We had great looks of PACIFIC-SLOPE
FLYCATCHER and also heard this species calling "psweet".
The Orchard was quiet in the afternoon. A pair of WOOD DUCK are in the
pond behind the Educational Center. A WARBLING VIREO was calling from
above the entrance to the access road across from the Ed Center. We
finished up our day on the AMERICAN BITTERN in the flooded field south of
the old McAllister Creek access road, a very nice end to a busy spring day.
We observed 87 species for the day, and have seen 134 species for the
year. Mammals seen included Muskrat, Columbian Black-tailed Deer, Coyote,
Eastern Gray Squirrel, Harbor Seal and Eastern Cotton-tailed Rabbit. We
did not refind the Orca seen last week, it's been 3-4 weeks since we have
seen Mink, and we last saw Long-tailed Weasel about two months ago.
Perhaps with all the fledglings on the way, we will see more of these
predators in the near future.
Until next week, happy birding!
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