[Tweeters] Black-crowned Night Heron at Ocean Shores

Ruth and/or Patrick Sullivan godwit at worldnet.att.net
Sun Aug 14 08:46:25 PDT 2005

Hello Tweets,

Yesterday(August 13th)Tim O'Brien and my mother and I birded the Ocean Shores area between 7am-7pm with only 3-4 hours of really good birding weather due to heavy fog/low clouds and fairly strong afternoon winds at times.Tim birded for most of the day until he had to leave and encountered most of our best highlights during that time. Our main highlight during this time and for the day was a juvenile Black-crowned Night Heron observed a 9:30am on the shores of Lake Minard behind the large cement tower(accessed along Marine View Drive),which this immediate location lies west of Damon Point. The bird rested calmly along the shore of Lake Minard for nearly the entire visit we observed the bird,but would occasionally preen and become alert when a nearby Northern Harrier flew around. Black-crowned Night Heron is listed as a "very rare" species for Ocean Shores a listed in the "old" "Birds of Ocean Shores" by Glen and Wanda Hoge with at least 3 records listed in that book. Along with being very rare for Ocean Shores Black-crowned Night Heron is also an exceptional Grays Harbor Co. bird and a personal new bird for our list,and to make it better a life bird for Tim! We wondered if this bird being a juvenile was a wandering bird or perhaps an offspring of a nearby nesting pair,which would be evenmore rare for this particular area. What ever the case it was a species we hadn't expected at Ocean Shores,as we rechecked the location 2 other times prior to originally seeing the bird and were unable to relocate it.

A single juvenile Stilt Sandpiper briefly observed with a group of 4 Greater Yellowlegs and 2 Long-billed Dowitchers during a windy afternoon walk after 3pm at the estuary portion of the Oyhut WA(accessed from Damon Point). The bird was originally observed amongst the flock of other listed shorebirds,but then retreated with them into a more sheltered and less accessible canal during incoming tide,where it could no be relocated.

Our other main highlights of the day was up to 10 Pacific Golden Plovers during outgoing tide at the Oyhut Wildlife Area aka the "Ocean Shores Game Range"(accessed behind the Ocean Shores STP and north of the large fluorescent navigation tower). The birds were observed in 2 main groups and included 8 adults in alternate plumage and 2 juvenile birds.,where a group of 6 birds foraged on the exposed mudflats and allowed fairly close approach followed by a group of 4 birds observed at the edge of an open area(formally known for past Snowy Plover nesting). Later in the day at 3pm the group of 4 birds was observed upon an extensive walk of the east portion of the Oyhut WA(accessed from Damon Point).

Thirdly, up to 3 Baird's Sandpipers were observed at the Oyhut WA with 2 birds allowing close examination at the Ocean Shores STP,which was another life bird for Tim! Later in the day 2 Baird's Sandpipers were noted with a group of Sanderlings and a single Ruddy Turnstone along the outer beaches north of Driftwood Drive. We figure numbers of the species should increase at Ocean Shores in upcoming days/weeks.

Away from these highlights much of the day at Ocean Shores was spent on foot,as we endured both high tides for the day! Overall shorebird numbers were not impressive as in past seasonal visits to Ocean Shores,but gull numbers were! The entire southern portion of Ocean Shores from the outer beaches to Bill's Spit hosted uncountable numbers of California,Heermann's and Glaucous-winged/Western Gulls in that near order of abundance and were especially thick at the Ocean Shores Jetty and extending to the inner bay of the Oyhut WA. Gull numbers had greatly increased than in our most recent visit and it seemed "white gulls" outnumbered Heermann's Gulls. It was the most gulls we had ever seen anywhere and the gulls seemed to "carpet" the waters surrounding the tip of the Ocean Shores Jetty and the sandy beaches north of that location,as well as cover the main portion of the jetty east to the open,exposed mudflats at the Oyhut WA(including at least one pond at the Ocean Shores STP)and increase through the day! It was truly a sight to see and maybe larger gull numbers will increase through the season! Brown Pelicans were also observed in good numbers,but nearly half of what our numbers totaled during our visit on the 6th of August. Good numbers were also noted yesterday in extremely large numbers off the Ocean Shores Jetty with one beached bird observed during an evening visit to the outer beaches north of Butter Clam Street!

We began our long day at Ocean Shores along the fog-covered outer beaches,then proceeded onward until conditions cleared at Bill's Spit. We then worked our way slowly back towards the Ocean Shores Jetty by checking several areas including the Oyhut WA,which was probably our best single productive spot of the day. From the Oyhut WA we finally arrived at the Ocean Shores Jetty at 12pm,but too late in the day to do much of any thorough searching of offshore waters due to heat waves and for gull and human crowds. Next, we traveled to Damon Point and made a walk to the "pond" then walked along the sandy beaches along the Grays Harbor side back to the parking lot. After departing with Tim we remained and walked along the large sandy spit at the eastern portion of the Oyhut WA,then continued our efforts back and forth from the outer beaches to Bill's Spit and the Ocean Shores STP looking for roosting shorebirds,etc. After 3 hours we finally located the roosting flock of shorebirds we had anticipated on after our 3rd foggy attempt along the outer beaches. We arrived at 6:30pm to the Butter Clam Street beach access and proceeded to the north and located the first of 3 flocks of roosting shorebirds resting nervously along he upper beach and into the dunes. The largest densities were of Western Sandpipers followed by Black-bellied Plovers with lesser numbers of 4 other shorebirds species.We made fairly close approach to the birds so that we could identify and count them with too much disturbance,then proceeded back to our vehicle due to the heavy fog and wind. It was nice to finally see these birds after such a long day of waiting and searching!

Our other main highlights during our day at Ocean Shores include the following:

Red-necked Grebe
1 at the Oyhut WA(with a single Red-throated and Common Loon nearby)

Sooty Shearwater
15+ off the ocean beaches north of Driftwood Drive

Green-winged Teal
35 at Bill's Spit
22 off the Ocean Shores Jetty
1 at the Ocean Shores STP
5 at the Oyhut WA

Northern Pintail
5 over the Oyhut WA

Northern Shoveler
5 at Lake Minard
2 at the Oyhut WA
4 at the Ocean Shores STP
47 at Bill's Spit

1 at the Ocean Shores STP

Black Scoter
1 lingering female bird at the Oyhut WA(with nearby Surf and White-winged Scoters)

Hooded Merganser
2 at Lake Minard
2 at the Ocean Shores STP/Oyhut WA

Red-breasted Merganser
2 at the Oyhut WA
7 at Damon Point

1 at the Oyhut WA

Northern Harrier
5 at the Oyhut WA
2 a Damon Point

Peregrine Falcon
1 adult at the Oyhut WA

Black-bellied Plover
17 at Bill's pit
365 along outer beaches north of Butter Clam Street

Semipalmated Plover
8 along the outer beaches between Driftwood Drive and Butter Clam Street
11 at Bill's Spit
1 at the Ocean Shores STP
15 at he Oyhut WA
3 at Damon Point

Greater Yellowlegs
5-6 at the Oyhut WA

Lesser Yellowlegs
1 at the Oyhut WA

Marbled Godwit
1 with a single Whimbrel at Bill's Spit

200+ along outer beaches between Driftwood Drive to Butter Clam Street

Western Sandpiper(largest counts for the day with much smaller amounts with Least Sandpipers noted at other locations)
3,500+ along the outer beaches north of Butter Clam Street

Pectoral Sandpiper
1 at Damon Point(foraging along the north shoreline with Least Sandpipers at 2:30pm)

8 along the outer beaches north of Butter Clam Street

Short-billed Dowitcher
1 a Bill's Spit
8 at the Oyhut WA
48 along the outer beaches north of Butter Clam Street

Long-billed Dowitcher
8 at the Oyhut WA

Wilson's Snipe
1 at the Oyhut WA

Bonaparte's Gull
2 juvenile birds amongst a large gull mass at the Oyhut WA

Common Tern
69 at Damon Point
108 at the Oyhut WA

Marbled Murrelet
1 off the Ocean Shores Jetty

Mammal highlight of the day:

A single Long-tailed Weasel scampering across the Damon Point parking lot

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit at worldnet.att.net

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