[Tweeters] Wenzel Slough Rd/ Brady Loop - 04/23/05

Maurie Kirschner outdoorchickeroo at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 24 11:51:15 PDT 2005

My husband and I loaded up the kayaks Saturday morning with the intension of paddling at Lake Sylvia State Park. Since it's a small lake and we had all day I managed to talk him into driving the Wenzel Slough and Brady Loop roads for some pre-paddling birding...sneaky huh?

Our first stop was Vance Creek County Park where we spoke briefly with the pelagic carpool group. We then wandered the paths in the park for a short while. There really was very little on the lakes. Lesser Scaup and Western Gulls pretty much summed it up. However there was a lot of singing in the trees, but the birds were staying mostly out of sight. I heard Marsh Wren, Bewick's Wren, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat and a few calls I did not recognize.

Along Wenzel Slough Road some highlights were massive numbers of Band-tailed Pigeons, Common Raven (harrassing the Pigeons or vice-versa), large numbers of Golden-crowned Sparrows, Tree and Barn Swallows, Kingfisher (on the river), and two Red-tailed Hawks. One of the RT Hawks was a stunning "dark morph" adult. This bird looked identical to the one in Sibley. It was standing in a pasture, not 50 feet away. When it flew it had a small rodent dangling from it's talons.

Along Brady Loop I had great looks at both Short and Long-billed Dowitchers, Least and Western Sandpipers, Dunlin, Black-bellied Plovers, and numerous Greater Yellowlegs. I also had nice looks at a Vesper's Sparrow which stayed put on a low wire even as we pulled up even with it. There were Northern Harrier (1), Red-tailed Hawk (2), American Kestral (3), and Osprey (2). I heard Ring-necked Pheasant, Killdeer, Song Sparrow, and Winter Wren. The wind picked up a bit so I did not see or hear too many songbirds. We had one GB Heron fly by. Small numbers of various waterfowl were spread out in the larger wet areas. We got to one flooded area closer to the east end of the loop where I could see a large number of shore birds in the distance, but they were all well away from the road and I would have needed a scope to ID them...who knows what I missed back there!

Our paddle at Lake Sylvia was enjoyable dispite the steady rain. We startled several Mallards, Buffleheads, and a pair of Wood Ducks. In the forest and vegetation around the lake RW Blackbirds, Song Sparrows, Bewick's Wren, and Winter Wren were singing. Also Varied Thrush and lots of American Robins were heard.

Our last stop of the day was a quick side trip up to Shaeffer State Park where we sat and ate sandwiches as dusk aproached. We were looking out over the river when we heard a Kingfisher go on and on...the reason (not that they normally need a reason!) soon flew up in front of us and landed in a snag across the river. A beautiful Osprey...one of my husband's favorite birds. For a non-birder he sure does hog the binoculars when one of these birds comes around! We sat and watched this bird for about a half hour. It was watching the river, wagging it's head back and forth, leaning forward...we were on the edge of our seats hoping, waiting...would it dive? At one point it took off from the tree and harrassed an incoming GB Heron. The Heron flew to a tree down stream and the Osprey went back to it's perch. Finally we had to go and just as we turned on the car, we looked over to see the Osprey dive, hitting the water with a big splash. It bobbed to the surface, floating do!
a bit before taking to the air again, unfortunately it's talons were empty. We, on the other had, were full of big grins and the amazing joy that comes from watching one of these birds dive...we wished the Osprey good luck as it flew back to it's perch and we drove away. The grins didn't disappear for quite sometime.

Happy Birding,

Maurie Kirschner
Olympia WA

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