[Tweeters] Samish and Skagit Flats and Ruff

B & P Bell bellasoc at isomedia.com
Sun Dec 9 20:47:49 PST 2007

Hi Tweets

I took a class on a final field trip today to the Samish and Skagit Flats. It started snowing at the Smokey Point Rest Stop and continued until early afternoon. This did not stop us, but did make some distant viewing difficult. The Samish had its usual large contingent of BALD EAGLES of all ages. RED-TAILED HAWKs were abundant, and we saw several male NORTHERN HARRIERS as well as a couple of females and one juvenile. We got very nice views of a couple of ROUGH-LEGGED HAWKs. At the West 90 (where Samish Island road turns north) we had nice looks at a SHORT-EARED OWL that was coursing over the fields. It eventually came in and perched on a fence post. Just as we were putting a scope on it, it flew, circled around and came right over our heads in perfect light. Absolutely incredible views and we were able to really study it in flight. Behind us, about 70 yards away, was a perched NORTHERN SHRIKE.

We then headed south because the snow was getting heavier. On Maupin Road, just west of Fir Island Road, we had at least 7000 SNOW GEESE. They were calmly feeding in the field and we were able to study them at our leisure. Back on Fir Island Road we had an adult PEREGRINE FALCON perched in a deciduous snag. At the Hayton Preserve we had several female BUFFLEHEAD in the water, and a group of LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS (showing tertials and flanks nicely) feeding along the edges. While we were watching the dowitchers a STILT SANDPIPER flew in and proceed to feed with them. There were several BALD EAGLES and RED-TAILED HAWKs perched in the distance. Three Bald Eagles were feeding on something in the field to the east, we finally got a good enough look to determine that it was a SNOW GOOSE. All during the day we had groups of ducks flying by at a distance that was to great to identify.

We then headed down to Boe Road to try our hand at finding the RUFF. As we pulled up to the likely area we saw Grace and Ollie Oliver with Ollie grinning and pointing out into the field. We parked, walked back and had three scopes on the bird in short order. The Ruff was in the close grassy field just east of the big barn and before the house. It was with a large group of KILLDEER and was between 70 and 150 feet away. We had nice light and got stunning looks at the bird. This bird is in fresh plumage with everything looking nice and crisp. While we were watching it, large groups of SNOW GEESE flew over contributing their music to the afternoon. What a great way to end the day.

Brian H. Bell
Birding & Natural History Guide
Woodinville Wa
bell asoc at isomedia dot com

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