[Tweeters] Consolation prizes after missing the Variegated Flycatcher

Eugene and Nancy Hunn enhunn323 at comcast.net
Tue Sep 9 21:13:19 PDT 2008


I arrived at Windust Park at 1:30 PM Monday and could tell just by looking
at the idle wanderings of the birders there that the prize had flown.

Lots of Oregon birders still hoping. The big flock of birders that had been
there at dawn had drifted on to Washtucna and elsewhere but I figured I'd
look around anyway.

A ton of mostly juvenile White-crowned and Chipping Sparrows on the lawn at
the west end near where the flycatcher had been. I missed a reported red Fox
Sparrow that had been seen there off and on that day and previously
apparently, but I did locate a Lincoln's and a GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, the
latter perhaps not usual for Franklin County.

Just after I spotted the Golden-crowned Sparrow (in Russian olives east of
the boat launch), a very bright bird popped into view that at first I
thought was a Least Flycatcher on steroids. I watched it for about five
seconds in the clear at about 20 feet and then for a couple seconds more had
a clear shot of the head before it ducked back into the Russian olives not
to be seen again despite several of us trying several times. It was clearly
a BLUE-HEADED VIREO, my primary consolation prize as I'd not seen one before
in Washington. It was strikingly marked, a rather dark blue-gray hood with
striking broad white spectacles, a gray vireo bill, a contrasting greenish
back with a striking wing panel of blackish flight feathers and coverts with
bright yellowish margins and wing bars, white below with yellow flanks.
Stout, nice big round head. I had seen a Cassin's, a Red-eyed, and several
Warbling Vireos earlier there for comparison. No comparison! The Blue-headed
was smashingly different. Subsequently I heard rumors of at least two other
Blue-headed Vireo sightings, one at Bassett Park Monday fide Ted Peterson
and one by David Irons somewhere the day before (third hand report). I can
only vouch for mine.

At 4:30 I headed northeast to Washtucna hoping to see the Tennessee and a
Blackpoll that a guy I ran into at Windust said had just been seen there by
a bunch of birders. By the time I got to Bassett Park it was deserted and I
was starving so I had diner in the local dive and headed down to Lyon's
Ferry to camp.

Great Horned Owls and Western Screechies serenaded at night. I birded Lyon's
Ferry solo until 8 AM and failed to see the Blackpoll or waterthrushes Steve
Mlodinow reported (which I was unaware of anyway). I did see one EVENING
GROSBEAK and several Townsend's Solitaires plus tons of Yellow-rumps, some
Willies, Yellow Warblers, Townsend's Warblers, and Common Yellowthroats and
another Cassin's Vireo for comparison with the Blue-headed of the day
before. No comparison! Then back to Washtucna for breakfast and a pleasant
morning visiting with Steve Pink, Ted Peterson, Jeff Bryant, MaryFrances and
Phyllis, Ken Knittle, and Bob Flores. An American Redstart, a Lewis's
Woodpecker (previously reported), and a variety of empids which I think were
mostly Hammond's, with one or more Dusky, Gray (downward tail wag not seen
though), and Pacific-slopes, plus wood-pewees and an Olive-sided Flycatcher,
likely my closest approximation to the Variegated. The collared doves cooed

Despite missing the big find it was an experience witnessing the heavy
migration, something I rarely if ever have seen on the west side.

Gene Hunn.

18476 47th Pl NE

Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

enhunn323 at comcast.net

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