Event Reports

Hard-Core Birders’ Trip – November 5, 2016

On November 5 I led a Hard-Core Birders’ field trip from Olympia to Port Townsend via the Hood Canal Bridge and points in between. Dave and Sherry Hayden, Jim Pruske, Lonnie Sommers, and I started in rain at 7:00 a.m. and made our way to Gorst where it was raining harder. Looking up the bay toward Bremerton, we spotted Greater Yellowlegs, Ring-billed and Mew Gulls, Surf Scoters, Bald Eagles, American Wigeon, and Common Goldeneye.

At Kitsap Memorial Park, the rain abated somewhat, and we found Common and Red-throated Loon, Horned Grebe, Red-breasted Mergansers, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Marbled Murrelets, and some land birds: Black-capped Chickadee, Golden-crowned Sparrows, juncos, and kinglets.

At Salisbury Park we encountered the first of many Bonaparte’s Gulls, Hooded Mergansers, more Marbled Murrelets, and Pigeon Guillemots. As we crossed the Hood Canal Bridge, the rain stopped but the wind picked up. At Lower Oak Bay we saw Mallards, American and Eurasian Wigeon, Pintail and Shovelers. A flock of gulls sheltered inside the spit included a Heermann’s Gull among the Mew and Ring-bills. There were eight Black Oystercatchers on the jetty, but the tide was so high that we didn’t find any Black Turnstones that we often see there.

At Mystery Bay State Park we picked up more land birds. Robins, Cedar Waxwings, chickadees and kinglets were feasting on the berries in a Madrona tree. Not much on the water as it was still windy with lots of chop.

Our best stop of the day was at Fort Flagler State Park where we had Black-bellied Plover and Dunlin on the parade field, but not much else until we got to the campground that was protected from the wind. As we drove toward the beach in the campground, we spotted several flocks of shorebirds in the grass and in the puddles near the launch site: Black-bellied Plovers, Dunlin, Sanderlings and a lone Least Sandpiper. Out on the water we saw many Harlequin Ducks and five Long-tailed Ducks. As we walked the beach toward the point we spotted a Semipalmated Plover. While we scoped the gulls at the end of the point for possible shorebirds, a Bald Eagle flew over scattering everyone, and out of the flock came a Black Turnstone heading down the beach.

As we headed back to the cars along the inside of the spit we spooked up a Savannah Sparrow and saw more Harlequin Ducks and Common Loons. As we scoped the flocks on the ground, Lonnie spotted something unusual that popped over the edge toward the water. When we got them in the scope we discovered three Surfbirds on the rocks with the Black-bellied Plovers.

Port Hudson gave us Pacific Loon, Rhinoceros Auklet, and Common Murre. Our last stop was Kai-Tai Lagoon where we found Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, Ruddy Duck, Lesser Scaup, Common Goldeneye, and Ruby-crowned Kinglet.

For the day I had 73 species and pleasant company. For the record we ran into rain on the way home when we crossed the Hood Canal Bridge and had it always on the way back to Lacey. Funny how the rain stayed in Kitsap County and never crossed the canal. (from Mar/April 2017 Echo newsletter, by Phil Kelley)

Aboard the Lady Alderbrook with Black Hills Audubon

On November 12, 41 birders braved the wet, cold, and chop on Hood Canal aboard the Lady Alderbrook. The weather predictions the night before were grim, but the Alderbrook Resort’s dock managers assured me that all would be fine. Our trip was indeed fine, yet in fact—to use leader Bill Tweit’s words—we had “light rain at the beginning, low overcast, and winds gusting 10-30 miles per hour. Water was smooth at times, quite choppy at others. Waters were rough in the Great Bend area.”READ MORE

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.READ MORE