[Tweeters] Hoquiam rarities and Black-tailed Gull, Sunday October 25

Eugene and Nancy Hunn enhunn323 at comcast.net
Sun Oct 25 21:23:30 PDT 2009


The “Patagonia Roadside Reststop Syndrome” was in full swing today at the
Hoquiam Sewage Ponds. Brien Meilleur and I arrived at 10 AM to find a small
army of birders patrolling Paulson Road and the southeast corner of the
Hoquiam Sewage Lagoon loop road. We were advised that the ORCHARD ORIOLE and
one CLAY-COLORED SPARROW had just been seen along the fence line on the east
side of Paulson Rd. east of the four conifers. The oriole soon emerged from
foraging low in thistles and blackberries just behind the fence for
excellent and sustained views. The Clay-colored took a bit longer to
relocate but eventually perched up in the open and fed right behind the
fence at close range.

In the scopes we could see two black spots on right side of the oriole’s
throat, in amongst the bright yellow, which perhaps indicates that the bird
is an immature male (??).

No one had seen the longspur since 3 PM Saturday afternoon (much grumbling
and sighing), so Brien and I broke for lunch at the Hangar Café, hosted by
Betty Boop. We thought it worth one last pass to see if the longspur might
have reappeared. As luck would have it, the crowd of scopers gave the
thumb’s up. It had just a few minutes before flown in, flashing its largely
white tail. The CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR proved elusive, but with so many
eyes out for it we were all able to get clear views as it dodged in and out
of the grass along the southern margin of the dirt track inside the fence by
the pond margin.

We had a lively discussion as to it’s likely plumage. The largely blackish
belly, slightly frosted, and the quite yellowish face certainly indicated a
“breeding” male plumage, while the nape and crown matched Sibleys “winter
male” plumage. A black ear mark was apparent but no sign of the shoulder
patch of the “breeding male.” Seemed very early for “breeding plumage.” The
feathers all looked quite fresh and newly minted to me. My hypothesis is
that it molted on the breeding grounds and is now in the process of wearing
off the camouflage feather tips to reveal eventually the stunning adult male
plumage. Was it a bird fledged this past summer now in first “breeding”
plumage or an older male? I don’t know how to judge that and I’m not at all
clear how many plumages there might be in a longspur plumage “cycle.” Plus I
don’t know whether to call it “basic” or “alternate,” or if that is a
meaningful distinction in longspurs. The photos will no doubt show the
small, gray bill and very short primary projection as well as other
definitive details.

Just as we were about to leave, about 2 PM, someone spotted a PALM WARBLER
right across the street scurrying along behind the fence on the east side of
the road! Everything but the Tropical Kingbird, which had apparently moved
on. EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES were noted nearby along Paulson Rd. as was a

We stopped at Commencement Bay to have another shot at the BLACK-TAILED GULL
and were not disappointed, as it was resting on the log booms with a hoard
of Bonaparte’s Gulls and visible from the usual pull outs. It was a trick to
pick it out as it snoozed. The mantle color was just a shade darker than the
Mew and California Gulls in the flock, but eventually it stretched, preened,
showed its tail band, collar, even spread its wings a bit when the
Bonaparte’s were spooked. It had gone back to sleep when we left about 4 PM.

Gene Hunn

Lake Forest Park, WA 98155

enhunn323 at comcast.net

More information about the Tweeters mailing list