[Tweeters] Snowy Owls near Union,Mason Co.

Ruth and/or Patrick Sullivan godwit at worldnet.att.net
Thu Dec 1 15:46:29 PST 2005

Hello Tweets,

Today we ventured out to the Skokomish River Delta near the town of Union in Mason Co. and located up to 3 SNOWY OWLS resting at a fair distance along the shoreline between 11am-12pm. The birds were all visible from a pull-off along Hwy.101 just south of Potlatch State Park,as mention and previously reported by Bill Shelmerdine yesterday. The conditions at the time of the observations were not too bad with some light snow and rain mixed,but we were definitely able to watch the Snowy Owls in our spotting scope. 2 of the birds strongly appeared to be adult birds and rested together possibly 50 yards east of a large turquoise colored boat that was visible along the immediate shoreline. The other individual Snowy Owl rested further east along the shoreline,but was more obstructed by grassy areas. Overall the 2 birds that rested together were most visible and there were plenty of gulls and at least 2 white objects that could fool you to thinking they were Snowy Owls. The lone Snowy Owls lifted once during our visit,but quickly remained at it's roost while the other 2 birds never moved,except for a slight movement of the head. We initially searched along S.R.106 with some ample views of the Skokomish River Delta,but NO Snowy Owls were observed from he three vantage points we checked. The actual viewing of the Skokomish River Delta is probably best viewed from Hwy.101 due to access,but it seems much of the area is closest from S.R.106.

It was great sighting to see this species in Mason Co. and it strongly appears to be a first Mason Co. record for Snowy Owl,as of yesterday! This may be a good time to check other western WA counties for Snowy Owl that are absent of the species including Cowlitz,Skamania,Wahkiakum Cos. While watching the Snowy Owls we also checked the waters of Annas Bay that produced a single male REDHEAD amongst a scattered flock of Great Scaup and Common Goldeneyes. A few scattered Dunlin were also noted flying to and from the shoreline,as well as good numbers of "Black"Brant in Annas Bay. A single adult Thayer's Gull was also noted amongst a gull flock at the pull-off just south of Potlatch S.P.

As we continued southward along Hwy.101 towards Shelton conditions really declined with fairly heavy snow,which remained nearly to the Olympia area. It was at this point we decided cancel our previous plans and head home. As we drove north along I-5 near Nisqually conditions improved slightly so we decided to make a quick stop at the Nisqually NWR. The lingering 8 SNOW GEESE were again visible in the large grassy field just north of the refuge entrance road than we noted at this exact location on the 28th of November. The bird this afternoon were primarily alone,but a scattered flock of Cackling Geese were noted nearby in the same field.

Our last stop of the day was made at Luhr Beach in northern Thurston Co.and despite light snow showers and rather poor visibility we managed to locate 2 SNOWY OWLS at the Nisqually Delta. One of the birds was fairly close resting on the ground showing only it's head near 2 driftwood obstructions. The other bird was way over on the Pierce Co. side of the Nisqually Delta and more readily visible resting atop a large driftwood clump. The only other good sighting from Luhr Beach was a flock of 58 SNOW GEESE that were first noted at the mouth of the Nisqually River,but then lifted and flew southward over the Nisqually NWR. This was an unexpected sighting for us of the number of Snow Geese in south Puget Sound and surpasses our recent record number! We expected the birds may have landed on the Nisqually NWR and maybe joined another geese flock,where good feeding may persist.

To end our message we did observed our adult WHITE-THROATED SPARROW in our front yard this morning at 9:45am just before heading out on the road,but upon arriving home this afternoon were unable to relocate the bird. We did however have an adult Sharp-shinned Hawk that was flushed from the side of our house soon after arriving home.

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit at worldne.att.net

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