Ancient Murrelet strategy

Mike Wile mikewile at
Fri Nov 22 13:20:54 PST 2002

I totally agree with Gary in terms of the best months and good places to see Ancients. I will add that probably the most reliable spot in my experience has been taking the ferry to the San Juans. The 4 or 5 times I have done this in November/December (usually not just birding trips) have always been rewarded with great views, including right off the ferry dock in Friday Harbor.

Good Luck

Mike Wile
Redmond, WA
mikewile at
----- Original Message -----
From: Gary Bletsch
To: tweeters at
Sent: Friday, November 22, 2002 12:04 PM
Subject: Ancient Murrelet strategy

Dear Tweeters,

Here is my two cent's worth (adjusted for inflation) on trying to find Ancient Murrelets for one's life list.

When I went for this species in the early nineties, several of us got together and took the ferry from Whidbey to Port Townsend, as pedestrians. We rode it back and forth a few times. I believe it was November, or perhaps December. Certainly, almost all of my ANMU sightings since then have been in those months. Anyway, one or more of our group saw one or more birds on each leg. I think we took the ferry there, back, there, and back again (four crossings). I had horrible cheapo binoculars at the time, and so I was the last one to get a decent look, my friends all having Zeiss or other nice bins. Even with my $29.99 optics, though, I got great looks on our last leg.

I have not bothered to do the ferry trip again, at least not in the cold season. Since then I have found that two or three November trips to Green Point (Washington Park) in Anacortes, per year, usually suffice to find an Ancient or two, for ye old Skagit county year list. That strategy has usually demanded long sessions at the picnic table out there. Optimal conditions have often included cold rainwater running down my back, continual need to wipe off eyeglasses, and wind threatening to knock the tripod off the table, but there is also a special quality to Green Point in late autumn, and the chance for big flocks of fish-eating birds up close.

Good luck with your lifer ANMU!

Gary Bletsch

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