[Tweeters] nice afternoon at the Nisqually NWR 7-14-07

Ruth and/or Patrick Sullivan godwit513 at msn.com
Sat Jul 14 20:06:05 PDT 2007

Hello Tweets,

This afternoon we birded the Nisqually NWR between 12:30pm-5pm primarily for shorebirds along the McAllister Creek trail during the evening incoming tide. Our visit was quite productive,as we walked as far north along the McAllister Creek trail to the photo blind then worked our way slowly back. Crowds of people were extremely few,which seemed very odd for a nice Saturday afternoon! The weather remained very warm and muggy,but increasing cloudy skies moved in after 2:30pm making conditions slightly cooler.  Shorebird counts were very few in the wetland area along the inner dike along the McAllister Creek trail until after 3pm when increasing numbers of "peeps" moved in from the direction of the Nisqually Delta,as we rested on a bench along the main trail.  As we scanned over vast areas good numbers of swallows rested on dead trees in the heavily flooded areas south of the photo blind. Here, we located 2 BANK SWALLOWS that clearly stood out from several hatch-year Tree Swallows by color,contrast and overall size. It was an exciting find considering the date,as well as location too. The very broad dark brown beast band stood out in almost every view,as well as in flight too. The back and head appeared to show a somewhat frosty brown appearance so perhaps these birds were hatch year birds and were moving trough the area. This represented our 4th record of Bank Swallow for Thurston Co.,which were all noted at this location.

As we headed back south along the McAllister Creek trail we paid close attention to the best shorebird habitat along the inner dike. The best areas currently for shorebirds are just north of the McAllister Creek viewing area for a short ways,then areas become more flooded with far less muddy areas all the way north to the photo blind. Basically he best shorebird habitat lies in the southwest corner of the "loop" trail. As we thoroughly and carefully scanned over the muddy areas we located 2 shorebirds that were noticeably larger than the nearby Western and Least Sandpipers along with showing bright rusty heads. These 2 birds turned out to be alternate plumaged SANDERLINGS,which seemed very unusual for this exact location considering the habitat. We were be more accustomed to seeing Sanderlings at the Nisqually Delta rather than this inland more freshwater location. The 2 birds foraged together with several "peeps" nearby for size and color comparisons,which these 2 birds stood out considerably. This was our first July record of Sanderling in Thurston Co. and we were able to get a few extremely poor distant photos of the birds. While watching the Sanderlings an adult SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER walked by the same location,as it foraged with other "peeps".  A list of other notable shorebird species along he McAllister Creek trail included the following species:

13 Greater Yellowlegs
1 Spotted Sandpiper
300+ Western Sandpipers
120+ Least Sandpipers
12 Long-billed Dowitchers
5 Wilson's Snipes

After leaving the shorebird habitat along the McAllister Creek trail the distinctive calls of a WHIMBREL filled the air and soon the bird was located flying southeast fairly high overhead in the direction of Nisqually Cut-Off Rd. The bird kept flying and was soon lost in the sky,but within 10 minutes presumably the same bird was seen again flying northward towards the Nisqually Delta. Like the Sanderlings this was also a nice July sighting for the Nisqually NWR and perhaps more birds could be out on the Nisqually Delta,where they are annual in migration,but typically during the spring.

Other interesting bird species of note encountered at the Nisqually NWR included the following:

4 juvenile Pied-billed Grebes
2 Am.Bitterns
a pair of Cinnamon Teal with 4 young
3 Hooded Mergansers
1 Turkey Vulture
1 Osprey
1 Mourning Dove
1 Olive-sided Flycatcher(McAllister Creek)
4 Willow Flycatchers
5 Purple Martins
18+ Northern Rough-winged Swallows
35 Bushtits
7 Purple Finches

In addition to bird we also encountered good numbers of dragonflies since conditions seemed prime for them with Common Green Darners being the most abundant species observed. Other species that were noted included Common Whitetail and Eight-spotted Skimmer. mammal species of note included 3 young Raccoon foraging along the muddy shores of McAllister Creek and a single Muskrat swimming in the flooded areas along the inner dike.

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit513 at msn.com

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