Western Washington Trip

Jessebirder at aol.com Jessebirder at aol.com
Sun Feb 24 18:24:36 PST 2002


Gina Sheridan asked me to forward the following summary of a brief trip we 
made from Westport to Vancouver, BC from February 14-Feb 19:


I decided to try to bolster my nascent state list by
heading over the Cascades and touring around the
coastal hot spots with my friend Jesse Stewart.
Since Jesse has had a White-Throated Sparrow coming
into her yard (near Port Hadlock) for the last couple
of weeks, I drove right up to her house on the 14th.
In route, I had seen my first W. Meadowlark of the
year along I90 near Sprague and a couple of Bald
Eagles on the east side of the Cascades.

The White-Throated Sparrow obliged us with nice views
around Jesse's feeders. In nearby Oak Bay Beach, we
quickly added Common & Pacific Loons, Mew Gull, Black
Oystercatcher, Long-tailed Duck, Harlequin Duck,
Red-Breasted Merganser, Red Necked & Horned Grebes, DC
& Pelagic Cormorants, Black Scoter, Barrow's
Goldeneye, Varied Thrush, Greater Yellowlegs, and
Pigeon Guillemot. Nice start to the trip!

Early the next morning, we dipped on the Port Orchard
Mt. Quail, but we picked up a number of goodies from
Tokeland  up to Westport. The Tokeland Marina hosted
the famous BAR-TAILED GODWIT admidst the numerous
Marbled Godwits, and scattered Willets, Black-Bellied
Plovers, and Long-Billed Dowitchers. At the end of
Midway Beach Road, we saw large flocks of Dunlin,
Sanderling, and Western Sandpipers being rousted by a
Peregrine Falcon. We noted that some SNOWY PLOVERs
were accompanying the Dunlin too. The Peregrine dived
through the spray of the crashing surf and became
quite wet. The soaked Peregrine finally gave up on the
shorebirds and perched (and sulked) on some beach
driftwood for a while.  

When we arrived in Westport, the conditions were windy
and sunny. Black-legged Kittiwakes wheeled around the
rocky shore and couple of Brandt's Cormorants made an
appearance.

On the morning of the 16th, we embarked on the
Westport pelagic trip. Unfortunately, the weather had
turned rainy. The trip was pretty dull birdwise, but
we did see numerous kittiwakes and No. Fulmars, and a
few Cassin's Auklets.  We did pick up more Harlequins,
scoters, Herring Gull, and eventually Surfbird, Black
Oystercatcher, and Black Turnstone on the jetty.  I
guess that southeasterly wind blew out my Mottled
Petrels over to the coast of Japan.

The birders on board were much more interesting to me
than most of the birds that we saw. Good people
sharing good info made up for a lackluster list of
pelagic species.

After hearing about a Tufted Duck at Hoquim, we raced
out in pursuit as soon as we had made landfall. We ran
into Marv Breece and the three of us had marvelous
views of male TUFTED DUCK in prime alternate plumage.
The bird was initially roosting on a log in the
southwest corner of the sewage ponds and later paddled
around with its Greater and Lesser Scaup companions.
We saw Golden-Crowned Sparrows and Common Snipe 
around the periphery too. We traveled on up to Ocean
Shores, but didn't see any rock shorebirds. There was
a Semipalmated Plover at Damon Point and another
Peregrine Falcon at the jetty.

On the predawn of the 17th, we successfully had both
NO. SAW-WHET OWLS and WESTERN SCREECH OWLS respond to
our tapes around the John's River Wildlife Area. Both
species called frequently  but they didn't come in too
close.
Virginia Rail were calling in the marsh along the dike
trail. Once again, we drove out to the Ocean Shores
jetty. My misgivings increased when we saw so many 
people awkwardly attempting some sort of rock
climbing/surf walking ritual right on the fabled Rock
Sandpiper spot on the jetty. I was thinking "Why can't
these people just stay home and leave my sandpipers
alone?"  Suddenly, a flock of shorebirds flew in and
landed on the jetty. The flock consisted of Black
Turnstones and three lovely ROCK SANDPIPERS!  Marv had
told us that one of these birds was of the larger
paler Pribiloff race so we ogled that specimen in
particular.

Later, we saw another Peregrine Falcon in a tree near
Friend's Landing. Along the northeastern corner of the
Brady Loop, we found a couple of W. Scrub Jays, a
Hutton's Vireo, Fox Sparrow, and a Lincoln's Sparrow
in the midst of a large concentration of White-Crowned
Sparrows.

A little before dusk, we drove into Snohomish and
decided to go for the reported GYRFALCON. As luck
would have it, we had the adult gray morph Gyr perched
in a tall cottonwood. While admiring the Gyr in our
scopes, we also saw three GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE
with Canadas and swans in the field across the street
from Westwind Farm.  As the light waned, the Gyr took
off and cruised around the fields. Wow, what a great
bird!

On the 18th, we picked up Common Redpolls in the
Skagit WMA and heard (but didn't see) Pine Grosbeaks.
Numerous Trumpeter and Tundra Swans were in the
immediate area and yet someone asked us "where the
swans were". We were thinking of saying "how can you
miss those giant white birds in the open fields", but
we politely gave them directions instead.  

Snow Geese were in abundance north of Stanwood and a
huge flock of widgeon along Bayview-Edison Rd.
contained at least  half a dozen EURASIAN WIDGEON in
it.

Raptors were all over Skagit county  too.  Merlin and
Rough-legged Hawks put in cameo appearances.. Bald
Eagles were ubiquitous.

In Skagit WMA, we saw  Peregrine that was locked into
an aerial dogfight with an outmatched No. Harrier. 
The peregrine would gain altitude and then dive bomb
the hapless harrier. Later we saw a Bald Eagle mixing
it up with yet another harrier.There was quite a bit
of  "raptor-fu" in evidence that day.

Finally, we drove up to Vancouver, B.C. to see the
Crested Mynas. While Vancouver is undoubtably a
beautiful city, the industrial district which contains
the last couple of mynas leaves something to be
desired. However, we had superb views of the pair of
CRESTED MYNAs along 2nd Ave. between Columbia & Wylie.
We saw them first on a wire and then on the tree
across the street. A semi inconveniently blocked our
view of the birds for a while. They landed on the
ground near the corner of Wylie and 2nd again and we
noted all the field marks and left.

On a whim, we decided to head out to San Juan Island
and add Skylark to our Washington list. We hiked
around American Camp for a while and saw a NORTHERN
SHRIKE, but no skylarks. After inquiring about the
skylarks to the ranger, we were informed that "foxes
had eaten the skylarks". After consuming the skylarks,
I secretly hoped that the foxes at least had
indigestion. Anyway, the return ferry ride produced a
few Common Murres and Rhino Auklets but nothing much
else.

Wrapping up the day, we saw a couple of Red-Throated
Loons a Deception Pass and small numbers of Marbled
Murreletts and ANCIENT MURRELETS on the ferry from
Whidbey Island to Port Townsend. 

This was a great trip for me. I wracked up some
twenty-five state birds and one life bird (Crested
Myna). Hopefully,  some Inland Northwesterners might
want to try for some of these birds too. 

Good birding to all,

Gina Sheridan
Spokane, WA

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