[Tweeters] Samish Flats 10/23: Gyrfalcon and Sharp-tailed Sandpiper

Robert Sundstrom ixoreus at scattercreek.com
Sat Oct 23 23:11:14 PDT 2004


A few hours of birding this afternoon were productive for Kraig and Cathy Kemper, Sally Alhadeff and me.  Mid-afternoon at the West 90 of the Samish "T" there was an adult gray morph Gyrfalcon, pirating prey from Northern Harriers in the fields northeast of the 90 corner, a few  hundred yards north of the 90.  While scoping the Gyr' we turned our scope on a flock of Dunlin to the muddy field to the west and were surprised to see a brightly plumaged juvenal Sharp-tailed Sandpiper mixed in with a few hundred Dunlin, a dowitcher, and a few Black-bellied Plovers.  The sandpipers were flushed several times in the direction of Alice Bay, and when some of them reassembled in the muddy field, the Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was missing.  A few minutes later, a remarkably pale looking Merlin stooped on the Dunlin, pinning one to the ground after a nearly vertical descent onto the flock.  This was one of four different Merlins we saw this afternoon; an adult Peregrine flew over the West 90.  At least four different Rough-legged Hawks were seen, including adult light and dark morphs in the same vicinity as the Gyrfalcon.  At the little public park and beach access on Samish Is., a Mountain Chickadee was in the Douglas-firs, as was a flock of Red Crossbills.

This seems a relatively early arrival date for Gyrfalcon on the flats.  My hunch is that this is the same individual Gyr' that spent last winter in the same vicinity as an immature.

Good birding, Bob

Bob Sundstrom
ixoreus at scattercreek.com
Tenino, WA  
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