[Tweeters] Black-tailed Gull at North Cove 10-2(long)

Ruth Sullivan godwit at worldnet.att.net
Sat Oct 2 20:12:55 PDT 2004

Hello Tweets and other birders,

Today my mother and I enjoyed a lovely day again in the Tokeland-Midway Beach Rd. area,although weather conditions remained very cloudy compared to yesterday. We led a half day field trip for the ACOW(Audubon Council of Washington)that staged in Westport,as we led a group of 27 participants covering just a few areas between Tokeland and Midway Beach Rd. until 12pm,then birding in the general area on our own until 3pm. The field trip was very exciting and rewarding for all the participants,as we were able to obtain good to excellent looks at ALL of the main highlights,of which the main highlight for everyone was the Black-tailed Gull observed at North Cove between 7:30am-8am. We arrived at the North Cove location,as we noticed 2 birders already scoping the gull flocks(including an Oregon birder that initially located the bird prior to our visit at or near 7am),then almost immediately setting up our spotting scopes and getting our group situated we quickly announced "BLACK-TAILED GULL"! No sooner than 5 minutes later the bird was put into several spotting scopes,as we mentioned all the distinguishing field marks separating the Black-tailed Gull from other gulls at the location. Within 15 minutes of arriving at the location all of our group were able to see the Black-tailed Gull,as it foraged and preened in the gull flock that contained about 150 gulls of various species and at times the gull would move about the flock showing most of the visible characteristics of this species. It was truly an exceptional sighting considering all of our participants were able to see the bird,of which most was a life bird and one species we did not expect to even see for the day due to the bird being so elusive!

The morning lighting conditions were not the best at North Cove with low clouds,but we were able to watch the Black-tailed Gull until 7:50am the bird flew off into the ocean soon after the gull flock was flushed by a nearby adult Bald Eagle. At this time most of the gulls remained and resettled along the beach shoreline,but the Black-tailed Gull was not refound,as we continued watching the gull flocks until 8am. This sighting was the foundation for a good half day to come,as our next stop was made at Tokeland arriving along 7th Street with views of Graveyard Spit at 8:15am. Within a few minutes of scoping through the foraging large shorebird flocks the juvenile Bar-tailed Godwit was found and separated at a distance amongst the buffier and larger Marbled Godwits and Long-billed Curlews. We watched the Bar-tailed Godwit and the other large shorebirds until deciding to drive to another location and vantage point further south along Kindred Ave.(Tokeland Rd.) Within 5 minutes later the Bar-tailed Godwit was relocated and viewed at a much closer and clearer range allowing great views by all of our group along with again announcing all the distinguishing and separating field marks compared to several nearby Marbled Godwits. It was great to have both species observed together for the greatest comparisons!

Next,we drove down to the Tokeland Marina,where we were entertained with even closer views of Marbled Godwits with a very large flock foraging within the sheltered marina along with up to 19 Willets tallied. This was a spectacle for many participants,especially those that had never been to Tokeland and experienced this large congregation of Marbled Godwits. From both locations at Tokeland there were an estimated 815+ Marbled Godwits counted,primarily from the Tokeland Marina. Next,as we were mainly all watching the Marbled Godwit flock a Palm Warbler flew in from an unknown location behind us and landing along telephone wire before flying around the marina area and finally settling near the fishing/crabbing pier at the south end of the marina. We soon tracked the bird down after announcing it's presence until within a few minutes relocated the bird actively foraging mainly south of the paved road leading to the pier. We were able to first gain scoping views of the bird,as it remained very active foraging within a large outcropping of rocks near the pier in typical Palm Warbler behavior(wagging and bobbing it's tail) at the base of the small,white bridge leading to the pier. The bird was extremely cooperative at times allowing great scoping views for everyone in our group,of this normally skulky bird. After 15 minutes and everyone observing the bird we all decided to continued along the paved road closer to the bird and obtain photographs too. The bird continued flying low along the ground,as well as foraging and didn't seem the least disturbed by our large group presence,which made the sighting that much better. We were able to walk within approximately 35 feet of the bird,as it remained very active foraging along the pilings bordering the pier,as well as foraging within the rock outcroppings and gravelly upper beach shoreline that hosted driftwood and debris clumps. The bird spent a great deal of time foraging near the end of the paved road,which turned into gravel allowing probably the best views for everyone,as well as in flight showing the white"flashes"visible on the outer edges of the tip of tail along with bright yellow undertail coverts diagnostic of this species.

After watching the Palm Warbler and getting many photographs of the bird we watched the bird continue along the rocky edges of the paved road away from us,as we walked back towards our vehicles. We left the bird at this location,as it continued towards the large white abandoned building south of the paved road. This is most likely the same individual observed and reported by Gil Tabori on the 28th of September at this same location. We left Tokeland at 10am and traveled to Midway Beach Rd. to spend the remainder of the outing there by walking the open,sandy beaches,as well as wetter inland areas in search of more specialties. Within 5 minutes of arriving and preparing to descend onto the beaches a group of 5 Lapland Longspurs were heard and seen within distance to the south of us,before landing back in taller beach vegetation along with 2 nearby "Streaked"Horned Larks. We slowly continued north to a flooded,marshy area within the upper beach shoreline that hosted up to 17 Pectoral Sandpipers and 3 Wilson's Snipes. Continuing onto the open,drier upper beach and locating a few additional species we soon located our first Snowy Plovers of the trip,as they rested and foraged in recent vehicle tracks within fairly deep,dry sand. We were able to tally up to 27 birds without too much effort and continuing further and more were probably there,but our time now was limited. We watched the Snowy Plover at fairly close range for several minutes and noted a few additional species for the day before heading back to our vehicles and ending the trip with all in all a very great half day! It definitely wasn't the quantity of birds encountered,but the quality due to an almost lack of any passerines!

After departing from our group at 12pm we remained at Midway Beach Rd. before driving back to North Cove and checking conditions there with far less gull diversity than our morning visit,but exchanged our sightings with several birders. We then drove back to Tokeland between 1:30pm-2:30pm,where the Bar-tailed Godwit was again located immediately upon our arrival at the south end Graveyard Spit during incoming tide. The bird rested and moved about a fairly tight flock of Marbled Godwits and Long-billed Curlews along with 1 Whimbrel and scattered numbers of various gulls species and 24 resting Caspian Terns. We soon drove back to the Tokeland Marina and briefly checked conditions there with the usual large roosting flock of Marbled Godwits noted from the southern most wooden dock in the marina. We decided to check areas immediately west of the marina in possible search of the Palm Warbler,including an extensive Scot's Broom thicket. With no passerine movements and somewhat partial clearing skies overhead out attention remained skyward,as a roaming flock of chickadees flew in from the north,which soon landed along available telephone wires and scattered conifer trees. The birds were first identified as Chestnut-backed Chickadees due to voices heard until the clear,raspy voice of Mountain Chickadee was clearly heard with up to 2 birds seen well in a large conifer bordering the Tokeland Marina to the southwest. A total of 22 Chestnut-backed Chickadees and 2 Mountain Chickadees were counted from this tight,roaming flock. This was truly another unexpected surprise with the second "mountain" species in two days at a coastal location!The roaming,active flock looped a residence near the marina near a residence before they continued to the west and finally back in the direction they came. This may most likely represent the 1st record of Mountain Chickadee for Pacific Co. ,as others could appear at feeders or with more searching from surrounding counties. It is totally unclear where these birds came from,as we did not encountered any chickadee flocks earlier in the day at Tokeland and the flock did seem very active and nervous flying from tree to tree,but their distinctive and separating calls were obviously noted,but only at times and not constantly. A very large flock of 300+ Pine Siskins were also observed flying over this location,then eventually continuing south over Willapa Bay and represented our largest personal flock of the season. Perhaps there will be a further influx of mountain species to come with our and other sightings from observed in western WA.

Continuing north and working our way home we made a quick stop at Flower Street,which is accessed off Kindred Ave. in Tokeland that produced a very bright Palm Warbler and most likely a different individual bird than the bird observed at the Tokeland Marina earlier in the day. The bird was very sulky,but allowed brief,but good looks and otherwise this location was very slow. Continuing on our way home we located a single Great Egret and a Merlin as we drove east of S.R.105 at the Elk River bridge at Bay City with clearing skies to the east. Our last stop of the day was made along the Brady Loop Rd. complex to Foster Rd.,which was quite slow with a few notable species encountered to end our long day.

A list of additional highlights noted from selected locations during the day included the following:

Pacific Loon
15 off North Cove

Western Grebe
43+ off North Cove
12 at Tokeland

Brown Pelican
55+ off North Cove
22 at Tokeland
12 off Midway Beach Rd.

Surf Scoter
370+ at Tokeland
120+ off North Cove
70+ off Midway Beach Rd.

White-winged Scoter
7 at Tokeland
8 off North Cove
3 off Midway Beach Rd.

1 at Midway Beach Rd.

Northern Harrier
1 along S.R.105 near Tokeland
1 along Foster Rd.(Brady Loop Rd. complex)

Cooper's Hawk
1 at Tokeland

Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 along Foster Rd.(Brady Loop Rd. complex)

Peregrine Falcon
1 at North Cove

3 at Tokeland

Long-billed Curlew
51 at Tokeland

45+ at Midway Beach Rd.

Long-billed Dowitcher
7 at Midway Beach Rd.

Mew Gull
5 at North Cove
25+ at Tokeland

Herring Gull
6 at North Cove

Caspian Tern
32 at Tokeland
4 at North Cove

Red-breasted Sapsucker
1 along Brady Loop Rd.

Hairy Woodpecker
1 at Tokeland

"Streaked"Horned Lark
15 at Midway Beach Rd.

Western Scrub Jay
1 along Hwy.12 at Elma

60+ at Midway Beach Rd.

Hutton's Vireo
1 at North Cove

Yellow-rumped Warbler
4 at Tokeland

Townsend's Warbler
1 at North Cove

Lapland Longspur
7+ at Midway Beach Rd.

A great and exciting day at the coast!

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit at worldnet.att.net

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