The Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife (WDFW) requested some assistance from BHAS members to survey waterfowl near Lake Lawrence the first week of January. Surveys were conducted at the 163rd-Lane wetland and Smith Prairie. As you may remember, the 25-acre 163rd-Lane wetland is next to a proposed cell tower site that BHAS and local neighbors have been opposing for the last two years. This survey, however, was not about the tower but to help WDFW to provide data to the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) for its Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey, which is conducted nationwide each year in January. Some geese and ducks are not adequately monitored during the spring and summer because they nest in areas not well covered by breeding-population surveys, as explained on the USFWS website. Abundance indices for these species are obtained from surveys on wintering areas such as the 163rd-Lane wetland. The Mid-winter Waterfowl Survey provides information on population trends for some species, distribution on the wintering grounds, and habitat use. This wetland provides excellent habitat and will be part of future waterfowl surveys.
BHAS members Sue Danver, Rella Schafer, and Alex Foster counted 63 ducks including Ringed-necks, Buffleheads, Common Goldeneye, Mallards and Northern Shovelers. After the wetland survey, the group drove to Smith Prairie, a lovely pasture with a magnificent view of Mount Rainier and a favorite wintering spot for waterfowl just east of Lake Lawrence. Here they counted 98 dabblers including Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon and Northern Shovelers in the ponds. A large flock of Canada Geese made a low flyover above our observation point, landing in the pasture where 85 total geese plus 26 beautiful Trumpeter Swans were counted. Several Kestrels perching atop fence posts provided some wonderful photographs. It was a fun and productive day. (by Sue Danver)