Field Trip Reports

Field Trip Report: Birding Sequim, Port Angeles, and more

Weather predictions promised that rain, cold, and wind would abate for Saturday, March 25, so, hoping for the best, 12 of us caravanned up Route 101 to bird-rich sites on the Olympic Peninsula. Sam Merrill and Bob Wadsworth graciously and efficiently organized and led our trip, while Bob kept records of our sightings.

At Potlatch State Park we noted Western and Red-necked Grebes, Red-Breasted Merganser, Greater Scaup, Surf and White-winged Scoters, Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Loon, Steller’s Jay, Northern Flicker, American Robin, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Dark-eyed Junco, and a Bald Eagle far away perched high in a dead snag. At Dosewallips State Park, we added Mallard, Eurasian Collared Dove, Anna’s Hummingbird, Pileated Woodpecker, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Brown Creeper, Golden-crowned Kinglet, and Spotted Towhee, while many seals with pups pulled out on one part of the shore and at least one sea lion on another.

The wind was fiercely cold at John Wayne Marina, but despite the chill we spotted Glaucous-winged Gull, Pigeon Guillemot, a Great Blue Heron, Double-crested Cormorant, Pied-billed Grebe, Ruddy Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Belted Kingfisher, and—most exciting of all—five Long-tailed Ducks; frustratingly, they kept diving or were hard to see in the chop, but everyone was finally able to see them. At and near Marlyn Nelson County Park in the Sequim area, we added 200 Brant, about 100 Trumpeter/Tundra Swans, and a Northern Harrier to our list. American Wigeon, Gadwall, Green-winged Teal, and swallows were hanging out in rainwater ponds at Three Crabs, but we didn’t stay there long, in spite of potentially good birding at those little ponds, because the cold wind had increased to gale force, hurling sand in our faces and chilling us to the bone. Our last stops in Sequim, at Dungeness Landing Park and the forest path out to Dungeness Spit, yielded another Bald Eagle, about 300 Dunlin, American Goldfinch, a Pacific Wren, and gulls.

After spending the night in Port Angeles, we welcomed a still, sunny Sunday dawn, a contrast to the day before. At Ediz Hook, as the morning warmed, we saw Harlequin Duck, scoters, Common Loon, Red-necked and Western Grebe, Pelagic and Double-crested Cormorant, Black Oystercatcher, Sanderling, Common Murre, Marbled Murrelet, and Belted Kingfisher. At Salt Creek State Park, there were American Wigeon and Black Oystercatchers, Pigeon Guillemot, scoters, and Common Loon; Common Merganser, Horned Grebe, Song Sparrows, and about 30 Black Turnstone were new to our trip list. Mostly, our group simply enjoyed sitting in the sun with our picnic sandwiches, chatting, watching the deep blue sea, and marveling at the gorgeous colors on the Harlequin Ducks that were feeding off the rocks.


After Salt Creek, some buzzards passed overhead as we made our way to the Elwha River. Milky, full of silt, rushing, it gleamed silver in the sun. Seeing the river and the snowbells and scylla carpeting the open spaces along the road was a lovely way to finish our field trip. (by Bonnie Wood)

Annual Audubon Dinner Gala

The Thirtieth Annual BHAS Dinner gala once again brought together members and friends to celebrate birds and our shared enthusiasm for them. Gathered in the attractive high-ceilinged room at the Community College, we filled the tables, crowded the sale room, and chatted in the wine and beer line. Old friends reconnected and new friends made birding dates. The sale, an innovation this year, offered many intriguing and artful items, and the tasteful—and tasty—raffle items added opportunity and suspense. The accounts of the ongoing work of our award winners—Sam Merrill as the Jack Davis Conservationist and Margaret Tudor as the Dave McNett Environmental Educator of the year—were thoughtful and inspiring. Remarks by Art Wang, our national board representative, connected our work with the wider efforts being carried on across the nation. The highlight of the evening was the invigorating talk by Dr. Julia Parrish, who entertained and informed us about the world of sea and shore birds and the programs that seek to protect them. She offered concrete opportunities for ways to get involved in citizen science projects and do our part to support birds and other wildlife we love. Throughout the evening, our president Deb Nickerson gracefully emceed the event, served up humor, affection and inspiring reflections and kept us on schedule for another very successful celebration of all things Audubon. Thanks to all who made the evening memorable and fun!

If you have an opportunity to patronize any of the following businesses, please thank them for supporting our Annual Dinner with their contributions. Some have supported our work for many years.

  • Craftworks—Mike Stark
  • Eastside Urban Farm and Garden Center
  • Fish Brewing Company
  • Go4 Gourds
  • Gull Harbor Mercantile
  • Hood Canal Marina/Alderbrook Resort & Spa
  • Bill Justis
  • Olympic Mountain Ice Cream
  • South Bay Greenhouses
  • Wild Birds Unlimited
  • The Wine Loft

by Anne Kilgannon

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