[Tweeters] Rough-legged Hawk at Westport 10-7-06

Ruth and/or Patrick Sullivan godwit513 at msn.com
Sat Oct 7 23:12:55 PDT 2006

Hello Tweets,

Today we enjoyed a great day birding between Bottle Beach and Tokeland like several of our recent trips along with great weather too! We were able to enjoy visits at Bottle Beach during incoming and outgoing tides,which really worked well with our day! Although our main efforts were tuned for shorebirds our main highlight of the day was an adult ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK observed during our visit to Westport,where it hunted over open areas just north of the Westport Airport. This was one of our earliest fall personal records to date for lowland western WA and we presume the bird was strictly a migrant. We watched as the bird hovered,then soared several times revealing it's distinctive tail pattern with a black subterminal band borded by white before the bird flew off to unknown areas further south. It was a great bird to see and somewhat unexpected for this location!

Additionally,our other key highlights of the day were encountered at Bottle Beach beginning with a RUFF that was noted on both visits in a canal east of the foot bridge and the trail that leads you to the actual mudflats. The bird showed very pale upperparts during all observations with a good contrast between the darker back. The bird appeared obviously smaller than a few Greater Yellowlegs that it loosely foraged with and nearly the same size as 3 nearby Long-billed Dowitchers. At first it seemed like the bird was a different bird that we photographed near this same location on the 2nd of October,but after looking back at our photos it appears to be the same bird. During the moring incoming high tide the Ruff was noted along the canal by itself loosely associated with a small flock of Green-winged Teal,but during our evening observation the bird was with a flock of 3-4 Greater Yellowlegs and 3 Long-billed Dowitchers until the bird flew off over to the open mudflats to presumably feed. Whatever the case it was a great bird to see again and the canal is excellent now for shorebirds since it has ample supplies of shoreline depending on the tide! In addition an adult SNOW GOOSE was observed amongst a flock of 45 Canada Geese,as they flew east past Bottle Beach towards Boweman Basin.

Secondly,a single PALM WARBLER was observed briefly,but well amongst a loose flock of 8 Townsend's Warblers along the "greenbelt" between the mudflats and the canal. This location is accessed east of the end of the trail to Bottle Beach and meandering through trees via a small limited trail then along the backside of the greenbelt. This area is good for passerines,especially during fall migration and at times can offer a great diversity of species. The Palm Warbler was observed further east of the small trail that leads you in from the open beach area in small clumps of crabapple trees and other vegetation. It was a great bird to see and our personal first for this location! The actual area that the Palm Warbler was proved quite birdy with a good assortment of other passerines that were heavily attracted to "pishing". Other notable species from this same location included a single Hutton's Vireo, 1 Hermit Thrush,an Orange-crowned Warbler,3 lingering Yellow Warblers and several Purple Finches.

Our morning visit to Bottle Beach was actually much slower for shorebirds than our evening visit and having the oppurtunity to be there during both tide cycles really helped. During our morning visit we more or less stayed close to the shoreline,but during our the evening we were joined by Gary Fredricks and Matt Dufort,as we all walked our across the open mudflats to get closer to the shorebirds. At this time it seemed we really had to race to keep up with the shorebirds,as they foraged and also became agitated by the presence of a Peregrine Falcon. There were shorebirds everywhere across the shoreline and it was hard to get an accurate count on most species with good numbers of Black-bellied Plovers,both Western and Least Sandpipers,Dunlin,Sanderlings and a small scattered mix of both Short-billed and Long-billed Dowitchers. In amongst all these shorebirds a single PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER and up to 30 RED KNOTS were taillied! It was well worth the little effort to walk out on the mudflats,despite the quickly falling tide! After we felt we had scoped the shorebirds fairly good enough we hiked back behind the greenbelt and located the Ruff,as an additional prize for the day for both Gary and Matt! On our way out back to our vehicles we were treated with a SHORT-EARED OWL flying around over a small area north of the actual area where we had just been walking around earlier for the Ruff. A nice way to end a very rewarding day of coastal birding!

The adult BAR-TAILED GODWIT was again present along the rocky jetty just north of the coast guard staion at the east end of the Westport Marina during our visit at 11:45am. The bird was resting with it's head tucked while we watched it for a few minutes amongst a flock of 140+ Marbled Godwits. With poor lighting at this location we decided to walk the sandy spit east of the Westport Coast Guard Station,which proved quite rewarding. Near the end of the spit we located a roosting flock of 34 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS with a single Marbled Godwit that were all surrounded by a gathering of gulls and Brown Pelicans. 2 PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVERS were also noted at this same location before lifting and flying off calling loudly north towards Ocean Shores. As we watched the Long-billed Curlews a large group of shorebirds came flying high overhead from the North Bay,which primarily consisted of Black-bellied Plovers. As the shorebirds descended lower and portions of the flock settling onto the nearby saltmarsh shoreline we were able to seperate Red Knots,Sanderling,Western Sandpiper and a few dowitcher species. On our return hike back frm the tip of the spit we obtained nice flight views of the Rough-legged Hawk,as well as flushing up a flock of 25 LAPLAND LONGSPURS and 5 Western Meadowlarks along with 10 Am.Pipits.

After birding at Westport we drove straight south to the Tokeland Marina,where we encountered the large flock of 800+ Marbled Godwits,as they assembled nicely along the old wooden dock within the marina. Nearby,15 Willets were noted at their usual location just south of the marina. A quick stop before leaving Tokeland at Graveyard Spit produced 2 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS and 36 lingering Caspian Terns amongst a resting flock of various gulls.

Before arriving back to Bottle Beach during the evening outgoing tide we stopped at Midway Beach Rd.,where we made a short hikde north of the end of the road. Here,we located 16 SNOWY PLOVERS all resting in a scattered line along the edge of beach debris. It was great seeing these birds,as it always is and we also noted several banded birds too. On our return walk we located 5 LAPLAND LONGSPURS,25 Am.Pipits and 3 "Streaked"Horned Larks,which were all noted near or in the beach dunes.

Other notable highlights encountered during the day included the following species:

Western Grebe
35 birds at Westport

Great Egret
1 bird at Bottle Beach
6 birds along S.R.105 at Bay City

Greater White-fronted Goose
8 birds in a large grassy field north of Hwy.12 just east of the Wynoochee River
8 birds flying along S.R.105 at the Bishop Athletic Complex(west of Aberdeen)

Common Merganser
12 birds at Westport

2 birds continuing along Foster Rd.(Brady Loop Rd. complex)

Northern Harrier
2 birds at Westport
2 birds at Bottle Beach

Cooper's Hawk
1 bird along Brady Loop Rd.
1 bird at Westport

Sharp-shinned Hawk
1 bird at Bottle Beach

3 birds along the Brady Loop Rd. complex

1 bird along Foster Rd.(Brady Loop Rd. complex)

Peregrine Falcon
1 bird flying along S.R.105 east of Markham
1 bird at Bottle Beach

Semipalmated Plover
4 birds at Westport

Greater Yellowlegs
4 birds at Bottle Beach
30 birds at Westport
1 bird at he Tokeland Marina

Wilson's Snipe
4 birds at Bottle Beach

Herring Gull
1 bird at Westport

Red-breasted Sapsucker
1 bird along Brady Loop Rd.

Western Scrub Jay
1 bird along Brady Loop Rd.

Western Meadowlark
15 birds along Brady Loop Rd.
5 birds at Westport
1 bird at Midway Beach Rd.

We also encountered relatively good numbers of California Tortoiseshells(butterflies)at various locations today including he greatest diversity of this sopecies noted at Bottle Beach.

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit513 at msn.com

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