[Tweeters] Big Salty King County Day Thursday 10/7 (long)

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Sat Oct 9 10:21:10 PDT 2010

Hey Tweets!

Took a day off to see a lot of King County shoreline on Thursday, and was able to get a lot of good looks at some birds, as well as some first-of-fall sightings for me.

Started the morning with Randy Bjorklund at Discovery Park - looking for Short-eared Owls, but got buzzed by a Barn Owl instead. I was surprised at that hour, so far from the water, to have Randy yell "Duck!"... Figured out a little late that he didn't mean that kind of duck. On the way down to the lighthouse, we had Varied Thrushes fluting; Hopefully there will be more around than last winter! At the lighthouse, we had a nice mix of gulls, including some Heermann's still hanging around. Five alcids were riding the rough waves about 30 yards out from the lighthouse, we watched them for about 30 minutes trying to sort out what we had. The coloring, I think, had us down to Rhinoceros or Cassin's Auklets, and they seeeemed so small next to the gulls around them... Would have been nice to have them sitting still to be more confident with the size, but this may be an ID that I pass on.

Off to Carkeek from there, where we met up with Jeff Cohen. Scoped the sound for a while, finding some Red-Breasted Mergansers, Surf Scoters and a few flavors of grebe, including Red-Necked. Jeff and Randy also found a distant loon that appeared to be a Common.

Picked up one more birder at Richmond Beach - Evan Houston. We poked around the parking lot a little bit, where Evan found a Flicker with yellow shafts - although I don't know if we nailed it down as a pure one or an integrade in the end. Still a lovely bird. We made our way down to the water, and located a scoter flock. Walking up the beach to get a better view, we were able to get at least one Black Scoter in the mix - a little smaller than the Surf Scoters around it, and with a bright orange-only bill.

>From there I ran off solo to West Seattle, where I found a Red-throated Loon at the terminal for the Vashon Ferry. Went to Vashon itself, which was really a nice trip. I wish I had a whole day for it, as I've never had dedicated birding time on the island before, and the habitat was just different enough to produce some good birds. My first stop was Fern Cove on the Northwest part of the island. This was on Evan's suggestion - it sounds like the shorebirding is often good here if it's not good at KVI beach. Quite a few Killdeer were running around the shoreline, as well as a Black Turnstone! I made it down to Tramp Harbor from there - what a great spot! The loons and grebes are concentrated pretty well in the harbor, so I was able to get some good looks at more Common Loons (but no Pacifics, as I was hoping to find!), and after picking through all of the Horned Grebes, was finally able to find an Eared Grebe very close in by the exercise bikes. (What exercise bikes? You have to go and see for yourself! Very good viewing spot!)

Finally, KVI beach was a quick stop. I had three more Common Loons very close in to shore, and a... seal-y thing. I'm so sorry here. This falls in with butterflies and dragonflies for me. I will have to give in and figure out what mammals I'm seeing at some point. At any rate, as I walked up the beach, a lightly colored seal sitting on the beach finally decided I got too close and flopped in to the water.


-Tim Brennan
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