[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday morning walk 11/30/11

Shep Thorp tanwaxlake at comcast.net
Wed Nov 30 17:36:09 PST 2011

Hi Tweets,

18 of us had a magical morning at Nisqually with great views of a Snowy Owl
on a grassy knoll in the surge plain 100 yards north of the New Estuarine
Dike Trail just north of the Twin Barns around 10:30am. We had beautiful
lighting with partly cloudy skies with plenty of sunshine. The Snowy was
first spotted by one of our birders, Anne Crowe, from the Twin Barns
Overlook, but the Estuarine Dike Trail provided the best looks. The
temperature was in the 50's degree Fahrenheit with moderate breezes and a
high 14'7" tide at 9:54am which may have helped to bring birds in closer to
the new dike. Other exciting moments included our first Varied Thrush of
the year, and good numbers of Peregrine Falcon (3), Red-tailed Hawk(6),
Northern Harrier(6), Bald Eagle(8), and American Bittern (3).

Meeting at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am we had our first
Peregrine Falcon and two Red-tailed Hawks (dark brown dark morph and
immature light headed banded brown tail western morph). American Coot,
American Wigeon, Bufflehead and Mallard were seen in the pond. Pine
Siskin, Red-winged Blackbird, Golden-crowned Sparrow and Song Sparrow were
seen and heard in the surrounding bramble and woodlands.

Viewing the flooded fields south of the Access Road, we observed Northern
Pintail and approximately 30 Long-billed Dowitchers. From the flood fields
just south of the Twin Barns approximately 3,000 Cackling Geese flushed
from the refuge as two adult Bald Eagles soared overhead. Scanning the
fields from the fence at the junction with the old McAllister Creek Road,
we viewed good numbers of Green-winged Teal, American Wigeon, Northern
Pintail and Northern Shovelers feeding in the flooded field. A small flock
of Dunlin were observed roosting and flying around the muddy water edges.
In the center of the field we saw Ring-billed Gull, Mew Gull,
Glaucous-winged Gull and Glaucous-winged x Wesetern Gull Hybrid (Olympic

Along the western branch of Twin Barns Boardwalk Loop Trail we saw our
first Varied Thrush for the year and two American Bitterns. Very
surprising to us all, Dave and Jerry located a male Common Yellowthroat
Warbler and Nancy saw a Sora just south of the twin barns cut off which we
think is unusually late for these migrants to be observed at the refuge.
We also saw Gadwall, Spotted Towhee, Fox Sparrow, Ruby-crowned Kinglet,
Golden-crowned Kinglet, Marsh Wren, Bewick's Wren. At the cut off, we
added Brown Creeper and Black-capped Chickadee.

>From the Twin Barns Overlook, we had our first sighting of the Snow Owl on

a grassy knoll island in the surge plain just north of the dike. The Snowy
had moderate baring on the belly and we speculated that it may have been an
immature male. We had terrific viewing of other raptors including at least
6 Bald Eagle - many immature 1st, 2nd, 3rd and 4th years, 4 Northern
Harrier, and 4 Red-tailed Hawks. Two Peregrine Falcons were scoped in one
of the snags in the western aspect of the surge plain, the larger of the
two with white lores and cere and a very large white auricular patch
suggestive of a female Tundra paired with male Peale's. A third Peregrine
Falcon arrived resulting in agnostic behavior as the new arrival was chased
off. We saw additional Golden-crowned Sparrow as well White-crowned
Sparrow and Lincoln's Sparrow.

Out on the new Estuarine Dike Trail, we enjoyed lots of waterfowl. Nancy
and Eric spotted an Eurasian Wigeon. Another white beauty, the Great
Egret, showed up and a probably second seen along Shannon Slough. Western
Meadowlarks, Northern Shrike, Snow Goose, Canada Goose, Taverner's Cackling
Geese were also seen. We observed Long-billed Dowitchers, Dunlin and
Greater Yellowlegs for shorebirds. Two Virginia Rail were heard on the
inside of the new dike, and Horned Grebe and Double-crested Cormorant were
seen along Shannon Slough.

Dave Richardson completed the board walk, and reported seeing Common Loon,
Red-throated Loon, Surf Scoter, Common Goldeneye. He also had good numbers
of shorebirds including Semipalmated Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper and plenty
of Dunlin.

On return to the Visitor Center we picked up Downy Woodpecker, Hairy
Woodpecker, American Goldfinch and Steller's Jay.

Nisqually delivers again! 71 species for the day, with the Snowy Owl and
Varied Thrush new for the year, with a total of 174 species for the year.

Mammals seen for the day included Eastern Gray Squirrel, Harbor Seal and
Columbia Black-tailed Deer.

Until next week, good birding!
Shep Thorp
Browns Point
sthorp at theaec.com
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