Big Birds of Clark County Trip – November 2016
Sam Merrill, Paul Hicks and I had organized this trip for October 15, but it didn’t materialize due to a predicted storm (that ultimately didn’t occur); but ten of us made the trip on November 19. Randy Hill and Ryan Abe, from the Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge, guided us through an excellent day of birding with some spectacular finds. We visited sites at the Refuge, on the Columbia River, along with the River S auto tour route, Fruit Valley Park along LaFramboise Road, Old Lower River Road, Vancouver Lake (viewed from the flushing channel and North Vancouver Lake access trail and Vancouver Lake Park), Shillapoo Wildlife Area, Vancouver’s Marine Park, the Water Resources Education Center, and Vancouver’s Tidewater Cove. In total, we saw 77 species. Notable finds were Tundra and Trumpeter Swans, Great Egret, Cinnamon Teal, Western Grebe, Wilson’s Snipe, Red-shouldered Hawk, Sandhill Crane, Lincoln and Fox Sparrows, White-breasted Nuthatch, Lesser Goldfinch and—rare for the locality and season—White-winged Scoter, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Pacific Loon, Red-necked Grebe, and Red Phalarope.We started by driving the Ridgefield NWR River S auto tour where we stay in our cars as a moving blind to prevent disturbing the large numbers of waterfowl in the adjacent ponds and waterways. Aside from many Canada and Cackling Geese and the common wintering waterfowl, we spotted Red Phalarope (“code 5” in the county), many Tundra—and a few Trumpeter—Swans, several cooperative Wilson’s Snipes, and a couple of Red-shouldered Hawks. At the Fruit Valley Park along LaFramboise Road our patience paid off when a couple of Lesser Goldfinches appeared. At Shillapoo Wildlife Area, we enjoyed good views of Sandhill Cranes and caught glimpses of both Fox and Lincoln Sparrows.
At Vancouver Lake and vicinity we picked up a dozen or two Western Grebes offshore , along with several gulls (Ring-billed, California, and possibly Herring), and in Vancouver Lake Park had a great time chasing down White-breasted Nuthatches picking up bits of peanuts pulverized on the road by a car. Meanwhile a couple of Brown Creepers tried to outdo the nuthatches by repeatedly flying to trees and posts within a few feet of us. At Tidewater Cove, we spent our last half hour spotting waterfowl on the Columbia, most notably Pacific Loon, Barrow’s Goldeneye, a White-winged Scoter, and a Red-necked Grebe. We also puzzled over rafts of scaup in various plumages (adult and juvenile Greater and Lesser).
A little rain had been forecast, and indeed we birded under light precipitation by late afternoon; and though it was overcast we were troubled by little glare. All in all a nice day. (from Jan/Feb 2017 Echo newsletter, by Bob Wadsworth)