[Tweeters] Grays Harbor Bar-tailed and Hudsonian Godwits, and others

Michael Woodruff crazybirder98 at hotmail.com
Sun Sep 25 19:51:54 PDT 2005

This weekend (9/23-24/05), Garrett MacDonald, my dad Roger, and I went on a 
whirlwind trip to the coast for a pelagic and some coastal birding.  We left 
Spokane at 4am on Friday and were to Ocean Shores at about 10:45.  The mud 
at the beginning of Damon Point had Western, Ring-billed, California, and 
Glaucous-winged Gulls, 3 Sanderlings, and 1 Long-billed Curlew.  13 Pectoral 
Sandpipers were in the sand and grass away from the water, but a diligent 
search yielded no Sharp-taileds.  The bay held Surf and White-winged 
Scoters, a Common Merganser, Western and Horned Grebes, Common Loons, and 
one juvenile Pigeon Guillemot.  Brown Pelicans, Double-crested Cormorants, 
and Northern Harrier flew over.  Countless Savanna Sparrows were around 
Damon Pond, but no longspurs or golden-plovers.  We flushed a Ring-necked 
Pheasant farther out the point.

Our next stop was Bill's Spit.  A scan of the large shorebirds showed that 
there were godwits other than Marbled, so we put on boots and went in for a 
closer look.  Before long, we picked out 2 juvenile BAR-TAILED GODWITS and 1 
juvenile HUDSONIAN GODWIT among bunches of Marbled Godwits, Long-billed 
Curlews, 2 Whimbrel, 1 juv Short-billed Dowitcher, and gulls.  We had looks 
as good as they come.  The Hudsonian even preened, showing the black tail 
and white rump, as well as lifting its wings to reveal black undersides.  In 
flight, it stuck out like a sore thumb, easily picked out at long distances. 
  Both the Bar-tailed and Hudsonian were lifers for me and my dad.

Both Garrett and I digiscoped the godwits, and you can view photos of them 
at my site at www.flickr.com/photos/nightjar.  Garrett should post his soon, 
which will be at www.flickr.com/photos/redknot.

We drove around the harbor to Bottle Beach, but it was high tide and no 
shorebirds were around.  Onward to Tokeland, in Pacific County, where we 
easily found the flock of roosting Marbled Godwits.  Marv Breece soon 
arrived and picked out the sleeping BAR-TAILED GODWIT's white belly from the 
Marbleds.  We hadn't been able to see it from our angle---it can really hide 
in there. By getting in the right spot, we were able to see its bold 

We went across the road to the dock that has a large shed at the base.  
Roosting there were 15 Willets and 2 Whimbrels.  As we watched them, we 
heard a gunshot from somewhere, and the godwits lifted into the air.  What 
followed was a fantastic aerial show, with the godwits wheeling and calling. 
  We could sometimes pick out the Bar-tailed by its lighter color, but it 
was hard to keep track of.  After quite some time, many of the godwits 
landed on the "Willet dock", including the Bar-tailed, while the rest went 
to shore.  After a few more minutes, they repeated the show!  It was truly a 
marvelous experience with a Bar-tailed that is often just sleeping!

On Saturday (9/24), we went on a Westport Seabirds Pelagic boat trip.  
Although bird numbers were apparently down, we still saw lots of Sooty, 
Pink-footed, and Buller's Shearwaters, almost 70 Black-footed Albatrosses, 
Northern Fulmars, Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels, Pomarine -6 and Parasitic -1 
Jaegers, South Polar Skuas -3, Common Murres, Rhinoceros and Cassin's 
Auklets, and 4 Sabine's Gulls.  In the harbor, there were 3 species of 
cormorants, 2 adult Black-legged Kittiwakes, Surf and White-winged Scoters, 
and 1 Black Turnstone.  There were some Marbled Godwits, but the "mystery 
godwit" wasn't among them.

Following the pelagic, we visited Bottle Beach, where we found 23 
Black-bellied Plovers, 6 Semipalmated Plovers, and a large flock of Western 
Sandpipers.  As the tide rose past their "limit", they all flew away except 
for a Western.  A Peregrine Falcon cruised along the beach..

We walked part of the Game Range in Ocean Shores.  One Greater Yellowlegs, a 
large flock of Least Sandpipers, a Horned Grebe, and a Pied-billed Grebe 
were about all we got.  The mudflat to the north at the beginning of Damon 
Point didn't have much more, with many Killdeer and a few Western and Least 
Sandpipers, plus the same flock of Pectorals that was there before.

We left just before dark, and got home around 2am.  It was a great 
introduction to the outer coast for my dad and I, being our first birding 
trip to the area.  I got 20 state lifers, and he got 16, while Garrett got 1 
(the Hudsonian Godwit).  Both rare godwits were ABA lifers for the two of 
us, as well as the Fork-tailed Storm-Petrels.  We will have to come back!

Michael Woodruff
Spokane, WA

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