[Tweeters] Wednesday Walk at Billy Frank Jr Nisqually NWR for 5/11/22.
shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu May 12 11:41:47 PDT 2022
We had a really nice birdy day at the Refuge on Wednesday with partly
cloudy skies and temperatures in the 40's to 50's degree Fahrenheit. There
was a Low 4.3ft Tide at 9:46am and a High 9.28ft Tide at 2:51pm.
Highlights included FOY: RUDDY DUCK, SORA, SANDHILL CRANE, LESSER
YELLOWLEGS, CALIFORNIA GULL, MERLIN, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, CEDAR WAXWING,
BULLOCK'S ORIOLE, NASHVILLE WARBLER, and WESTERN TANAGER. Along with the
Sandhill Cranes, the hundreds of VAUX'S SWIFTS and over one hundred CASPIAN
TERNS were exciting to see.
Starting out at the Visitor Center at 8am, a few RING-NECKED DUCK remain.
We had nice looks of PIED-BILLED GREBE and HOODED MERGANSER. The warblers,
robins, sparrows, finches, and swallows were well represented in the
The Orchard in the morning was fabulous with BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, YELLOW
WARBLER, ORANGE CROWNED WARBLER, CEDAR WAXWING, and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH.
We also had great looks at RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD and TREE SWALLOW both nesting
in this area. The maintenance yard is good for WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW.
WARBLING VIREO and WESTERN TANAGER were seen well at the Access Road
entrance across from the west side of the Orchard. SWAINSON'S THRUSH was
heard and seen, but very sulky as they had just arrived.
The Access Road was good for waterfowl, but the numbers are dramatically
lower over the last two weeks. We had nice looks at AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED
TEAL, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL, NORTHERN SHOVELER, WOOD DUCK,
MALLARD, CANADA GOOSE and additional HOODED MERGANSER with young. We were
very excited to enjoy hundreds of VAUX'S SWIFT foraging insects along with
Tree Swallow, BARN SWALLOW, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW and CLIFF SWALLOW. SORA
finally vocalized at the Refuge and were persistent. Before the walk at
7am a LESSER YELLOWLEGS was observed foraging south of the old McAllister
Creek Access Road.
The Twin Barns Loop Trail west entrance continued the warbler show with up
close looks of both Audubon's and Myrtle variety of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER.
There was a sighting of a NASHVILLE WARBLER, and great sightings of Yellow
Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. We had up close
looks of BROWN CREEPER. Between the last double benched overlook and the
Twin Barns cut-off we spotted a Mink. Rufous Hummingbirds are nesting in
this area. The large Big Leaf Maple across the slough from the cut-off has
a continuing pair of NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW nesting in a cavity just
above eye level. PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER was heard in the riparian forest.
The huge Cottonwood Trees adjacent to the Twin Barns, not only have a pair
of nesting BALD EAGLE with a chick, but singing BULLOCK'S ORIOLE as well.
Oriole were regularly heard here, as well heard around the parking lots and
seen at the Visitor Center. We enjoyed two of four SANDHILL CRANES,
catching a thermal and souring north out of the Refuge. The Twin Barns
Overlook was great for observing Swallows and Swifts. The grasses are two
high to easily see waterfowl, rails and shorebirds. VIRGINIA RAIL was
Out on the new dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail we had nice looks of RUDDY
DUCK, CINNAMON TEAL and AMERICAN COOT in the freshwater marsh. An AMERICAN
BITTERN flushed and flew across the marsh. Another pair of Bald Eagle are
nesting in Cottonwoods on the east side of the surge plain on the banks of
the Nisqually River. As well, a pair of PURPLE MARTIN were looking to nest
in restored snag that has been previously occupied by a now agitated pair
of Tree Swallow. Several SAVANNAH SPARROW, MARSH WREN and Common
Yellowthroat were spotted along the way.
The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail provided great looks of LEAST
SANDPIPER, GREATER YELLOWLEGS x 2, and over a dozen WHIMBRELS on the mud
flats. There were a few BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE, and RED-BREASTED
MERGANSER remaining in McAllister Creek. We counted well over 100 CASPIAN
TERN along the Creek and out on the Reach foraging, roosting and courting.
There were good numbers of GREAT BLUE HERON and Bald Eagle. BELTED
KINGFISHER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER and Northern Rough-winged Swallow were
working the west bank of the creek. Off Luhr Beach additional Purple
Martin were seen using the artificial gourds for nesting. A good size
flock of wintering GREATER SCAUP remains over the oyster beds. We scoped
PIGEON GUILLEMOT, RHINOCEROS AUKLET, BRANDT'S CORMORANT and a small flock
On our return from the Estuary Trail, we picked up a CALIFORNIA GULL on the
mud flats. There were no Short-billed Gull to be found. Four River Otter
were foraging in McAllister Creek. A high flying MERLIN appeared to be
hunting the Swift. Along the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, we
observed nesting RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, and DOWNY WOODPECKER.
For me, a first time achieving 100 ticks on our eBird list, with 95 species
seen for the day. We've seen 145 species thus far this year. Mammals seen
include Eastern Cotton-tailed Rabbit, Mink, Harbor Seal, River Otter in
McAllister Creek and the SE section of the Visitor Center Pond, Columbian
Black-tailed Deer, and a snoozing Coyote along the east side of the Twin
Barns Loop Trail.
I'll be out of town for the next three weeks, a trip to Adak and Nome will
keep me away. However there are numerous volunteers and regulars that will
continue the Wednesday Walk while I'm away. There will be a lot of
exciting bird action in the next three weeks.
Until next time, happy birding.
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