[Tweeters] Am.Dipper near Elma 12-07-06

Ruth and/or Patrick Sullivan godwit513 at msn.com
Thu Dec 7 19:40:00 PST 2006

Hello Tweets,

Today under cloudy skies we spent a few hours this afternoon checking a few locations in the Elma-Brady area of eastern Grays Harbor Co. We encountered a nice assortment of species including several highlights. Our main highlight of the day was a single AM.DIPPER observed and photographed from the short bridge along South Union Rd.,where the bird foraged along the gravel shoreline along Cloquallum Creek. This was major excitement for us both,as it was a much,much overdue and highly anticipated Grays Harbor Co. bird for us,(especially since we have a very respectable list for that county)! It is a species we have looked for at this specific location and making an unexpected stop here on our way added to the excitement!  We observed the bird at 3:45pm where we first observed the bird and heard it call several time before landing on a small gravel stretch along the creek. From this location we watched it forage,preen then bath along the gravel shoreline along the north side of the creek,as we looked east up the creek. The bird also gave it's distinctive "bobbing" behavior before it finally flew up the creek calling to an unknown location. This portion of the creek flows under Hwy.8 and continues north and eastward so the bird could show up almost anywhere! There are also a few other nearby creeks including Wildcat Creek,but the location we observed the bird was perfect since it held a good amount of gravel areas along the creek. 

We will continue to check this location to and from our destinations to coastal areas,especially since it is so accessible from Hwy.8. It also helps since this location is in our personal area of the Satsop CBC on the 26th of December,so it will definitely be a bird we will look for! The actual location is accessed just south of Hwy.8 at South Union Rd.,where you drive a short ways south of Hwy.8 to the bridge along Cloquallum Creek,specifically for those interested in this sighting. Despite Am.Dipper being currently listed as only a code 2 species for Grays Harbor Co. it was unique and special for us. We know of records of Am.Dipper from the Lake Quinalt area,as well as several creeks in the immediate portion of eastern Grays Harbor Co.,but as much birding as we do in many of these areas we have yet to see this species!

The rest of our afternoon was spent driving at several of the more known locations in the Elma-Brady area beginning along the entire portion of Wenzel Slough Rd.,where conditions were rather slow. Near the western portion of Wenzel Slough Rd. we located a distant flock of swans that we observed from the Newman Creek bridge. We anticipated to get to a closer vantage point to properly identify and count the large flock,where we did along Keys Rd. immediately south of Hwy.12. From a shoulder pull-off along Keys. Rd. we were able to count 167 swans of which 35% of the birds were immature birds. The flock consisted of 135 Trumpeter Swans and 42 Tundra Swans,which represented our personal largest concentration of swans in Grays Harbor Co. at a single location. We watched as the swans rested and grazed in a large grassy field,but on our drive home later in the afternoon the flock had declined in numbers and much more spread out across the same field just south of Hwy.12. We also encountered swans along Brady Loop Rd. including 88 birds observed from two locations west of the intersection of Foster Rd. The first flock was a pure flock of 16 Trumpeter Swans observed resting calmly along Brady Loop Rd. just west of Foster Rd. The second and much larger flock was noted further west along Brady Loop Rd. in a recently flooded area that contained 62 birds. This flock consisted of 52 Trumpeter Swans and 10 Tundra Swans. All together we observed 245 swans during the day,although some of these birds could have been from the original flock we observed south of Hwy.12 near Satsop,although we saw only a few scattered swans flying to and from the immediate area.

Our other somewhat good highlight of the day was a single adult WHITE-THROATED SPARROW(tan-striped form),which was observed along Keys Rd. amongst a small flock of White-crowned and Golden-crowned Sparrows. This location was the same location we observed the large flock of swans,but on the west side of Keys Rd. in a private yard,but safely viewed from the edge of the road. Other key highlights during the day included 10 SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS and 2 WESTERN SANDPIPERS observed amongst one of two large flocks of Dunlin along the eastern portion of Brady Loop Rd. This represented our personal largest flock of Semipalmated Plovers during the late winter for eastern Grays Harbor Co. Additionally, along this same stretch of Brady Loop Rd. we located 900+ Dunlin primarily foraging along the muddy shoreline from vast flooded areas that also included one bird that showed large white areas on the entire outer wing when it flew,which could also be visible when the bird landed and moved around amongst the other "normal" Dunlin. It was something different to see,as it really stood out amongst the large flocks!

Overall our day was quite slow for waterfowl and raptors in general as far as numbers and diversity,but everyday is different in this area. Our best raptor highlight of the day was seeing the adult light-morph "Harlan's"Red-tailed Hawk intergrade,which was promptly perched in a tree along Hwy.12 just north of Schafer Boom Rd. The bird soon flew south over Hwy. 12 and was relocated in a large alder clump along the north end of Schafer Boom Rd. before again flying off to an unknown location. The bird seems content in this immediate area over the past few winters,so perhaps the feeding is very good!

Our last species of the day as we continued eastward along hwy. 8 after watching the Am. Dipper was a single male MOUNTAIN QUAIL observed flying south over both lanes of Hwy.8 at MP 14. This location was described as being west of the cut-off onto Kennedy Creek Rd. near Summit Lake in Thurston Co. It was another great and unexpected sighting for the day,especially while driving 55 MPH!

A few other species noted during our afternoon include the following:

Western Grebe
1 bird(with a small gathering of Lesser Scaup and 1 RUDDY DUCK)at the lake at the east end of Vance Creek Co. Park and along the north side of Wenzel Slough Rd.

"Dusky"Canada Goose
62 birds along the eastern portion of Brady Loop Rd.(our personal highest count of this subspecies in eastern Grays Harbor Co.)

Ring-necked Duck
198 birds counted at the gravel pit"pond" along Twidwell Rd.(accessed just south of Hwy.12 northeast of Elma)

Northern Harrier
2 birds along Wenzel Slough Rd.
3 birds along Brady Loop Rd.

1 bird along Keys Rd.
1 bird along Monte-Brady Rd.
1 bird along Moore Rd.
1 bird along Hwy.12 west of Elma

Peregrine Falcon
1 adult bird along Brady Loop Rd.

125+ birds at Mud Bay,Thurston Co.
200+ birds along the eastern portion of Wenzel Slough Rd.
900+ birds along the eastern portion of Brady Loop Rd.

Mourning Dove
30 birds along Monte-Elma Rd. near Satsop

Red-breasted Sapsucker
1 bird along Hiram Hall Rd.(Brady Loop Rd. complex). This bird was observed at sap wells from 2 separate holly trees at the intersection of Brady Loop Rd.,which also attracted a single Ruby-crowned Kinglet,2 Yellow-rumped Warblers,2 Lincoln's Sparrows and a few White-crowned Sparrows

Western Scrub Jay
1 bird along Hwy.12 at Elma
1 bird along Keys Rd.
3 birds along Brady Loop Rd.
2 birds at Satsop

Lincoln's Sparrow
9 birds along Brady Loop Rd.

Purple Finch
3 birds along West Moore Rd.

In addition to our regular sightings during the day we located many clumps of Snowberry in the field,of which found none of the berries being eaten by any birds nor have we ever seen any birds eating them in our many years in the field. These are just our personal observations eventhough they are eaten at some point! One more note in that we observed a single Marsh Wren foraging in an old wood pile along Hiram Hall Rd. in the manner of a House Wren. The bird was clearly not a House Wren,but the behavior was as such and could have been mistaken for that species if not seen well.

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit513 at msn.com
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