[Tweeters] Grays, Clallam bird news 10/24 (long)

Scott Atkinson scottratkinson at hotmail.com
Mon Oct 25 10:12:39 PDT 2004


Tweeters:

Had the fortune of putting together last-minute a second fall survey for
Graysmarsh out near Sequim. As it was last-minute, I had to go solo this
time. The morning was frosty, and the day that followed was mostly sunny
and still. Visibility was excellent, and fresh snow capped the closest
peaks and upper elevations of the Olympics. Splashes of yellow with spots,
reds and pinks, burnt santas, and variegated combinations in between were
evident along the roadsides and trails at Grays. The combination of recent
rains, fallen leaves, and a clearly-above average mushroom season left a
raw, but rich, scent to the fall forests. Walking all day I found 110 bird
species, about 10 more than I expected for so late a date, and only 5 less
than the Sept. 7 survey.

There were 3 new species, all somewhat expected but nonetheless exciting to
find. Five SNOW GEESE were at the central beach and later, two of them
landed on the outer marsh. This species tends to be scarce in Clallam and
seems to not show every fall in the Sequim area; notably, however, one of
the hunters I encountered on the property said he had shot one about 10
years prior there.

Just inland of the public beach access was a tail-wagging PALM WARBLER. I
heard the characteristic chip note and then after a few minutes got close
looks at this Western-type as it hopped about in rose and crabapple thickets
just behind the first pond near the main dunes. Also in this area among a
horde of small brown birds was a returning SWAMP SPARROW. Hopefully the
warbler will hang around long enough for the CBC. I'm confident the sparrow
will hang around, 1-2 of them usually do. The PALM is one of very few
Clallam records, in fact I can only recall 1-2 others, but it seems we have
been having a pretty good flight year so far.

The third goody was in the southeast corner, Anne's spot, specifically in
the narrow band of bluff Doug-Fir forest. There, in a decent-sized
chickadee-kinglet-RB Nuthatch grouping was a single MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE. I
heard the bird twice before I at last saw it close at hand about mid-level.
There are only two other Clallam records that I know of for this species, it
was sure nice to get it for the property, knowing that these invasions
aren't common and this is pretty far west.

Other local Sequim notes: before I lost him on the cell, 'ol Bob
Boekelheide told me his weekly birding class found a late YELLOW WARBLER
last weekend, a late one indeed.

OTHER BIRDS FROM GRAYSMARSH, OCT. 24, 2004

DC Cormorant 172
Brandt's Cormorant 4
SNOW GOOSE 5
Gr. White-fronted Goose 3 (reported by hunters for 10/23)
GW Teal 138
Bufflehead 280 (widespread arrival)
Harlequin Duck 17
Oldsquaw (Long-tailed Duck) 68 (widespread arrival)
Black Scoter 2 (females, has become scarcer in recent years)
N. Harrier 8 (high count, previous high 6)
Peregrine Falcon 1 (sparred w/harriers, then perched at the beach w/rising
moon behind at dusk)
Am. Kestrel 1 (rare at Grays)
Virginia Rail 7
Sora 1 (answered tape)
Spotted Sandpiper 1
Gr. Yellowlegs 1
phalarope, sp. 1
Thayer's Gull 2
4 owl species including (!) 2 N. Pygmy-Owls
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE 1
Hermit Thrush 1
Am. Pipit 6
Cedar Waxwing 3
N. Shrike 1
Townsend's Warbler 2
PALM WARBLER 1
COM. YELLOWTHROAT 1 (late)
Red Crossbill 51 (good number)
Spotted Towhee 63 (migrant peak)
8 sparrow sp. not including junco, Golden-cr. (91), Fox (51), Lincoln's (10)
White-throated Sparrow 1
Swamp Sparrow 1
W. Meadowlark 2

ODDBALL DUCK: the hunters showed me an oddball duck taken the day prior.
Size, bill, proportions as GW Teal but basically white throughout. Speculum
however medium brown, smudgy brown breast; a few brown speckles elsewhere.
I was ready to say partial albino GW Teal but the bird had a pin-type tail
(as on a female Pintail) which was very confusing. Perhaps a hybrid of some
sort. The taxidermist will make the call, but: any ideas out there?

Scott Atkinson
Lake Stevens
mail to: scottratkinson at hotmail.com

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