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)