[Tweeters] Skagit birds

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 9 21:12:14 PDT 2011

Dear Tweeters,

This morning (10-09-2011) I ran into Ryan Merrill and Charlie Wright at Mansford, a small enclave of Skagit County, reached via Darrington. They were looking at a Vesper Sparrow as I walked up. This was just east (?) of the big manure pile/ruined barns at the corner of Sauk Prairie Road and East Sauk Prairie Road. None of the other rarities that Ryan had seen earlier this weekend were present. After the Wunderkinder left, I was able to find a late Wilson's Warbler and a late Common Yellowthroat near where Ryan had found the unusual bunting and the Bohemian Waxwings. Oddest bird here was a Western Grebe flying over the farm fields--first time I recall seeing one so far from any body of open water. There were quite a few Western Meadowlarks around the hayfields here, a Sharp-shinned Hawk flew over, and it was all in all quite a birdy area.

At Corkindale, I ran into Ryan and Charlie again, as well as Randy Knapp. It seemed very quiet there, so I left to go shorebirding downriver.

A note on birding strategy follows. As I have remarked to several friends, several times this year--NEVER LEAVE RYAN MERRILL TO GO BIRDING SOMEWHERE ELSE! You will end up missing a rarity! Stay as close to Ryan as possible, until either the sun goes down, or Ryan walks into a darkened movie theater. It also pays to attach a small, inconspicuous homing device to the bumper of Ryan's car.

But of course, I drove away--minutes before, as I later found out, he and the others found a Rusty Blackbird there at Corkindale!

The Samish Flats didn't have anything out of the ordinary, besides armed men, accompanied by dogs, and garbed in a curious, bright orange color. One can only suspect it must be some sort of Dutch holiday.

At North Fork Access were lots of passerines, including Song, Fox, Golden-crowned, Savannah, and Lincoln's Sparrows. Raptors there included a Cooper's Hawk and an American Kestrel. Three species of wren were on the island, as well as a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers.

After several hours beating the grasses for sparrows out there, and a lovely visit to the juniper-clad rocky islet, I headed back, just as Ryan phoned me to tell of the American Golden Plover at Jensen Access--which is where I had almost decided to go, before heading to the North Fork on a whim.

As luck would have it, the tide had come in during my visit to the island, washing away the foot-plank over the ditch--the only way back to terra firma at North Fork Access.

An invigorating, armpit-deep wade ensued, during which no electronic devices were harmed.

After performing emergency tripod repairs using my bicuspids and Swiss Army Knife, I repaired to Jensen, just in time to see Ryan's American Golden Plover. Huzzah!

By the time I made it to Hayton Preserve, it was almost dark, but there was quite a goose show going on. I couldn't locate the Sandhill Crane, but there were 249 Greater White-fronted Geese, about 1700 Snow Geese, forty or so Cacklers, plus at least 21 Black-bellied Plover out in the fields.

At the same time, vollies of shotgun fire could be heard, heralding the end of the carefree birding season on Fir Island--five more days remain.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch

Gary Bletsch Near Lyman, Washington (Skagit County), USA garybletsch at yahoo.com Mentre che li occhi per la fronda verde
ficcava ïo sì come far suole
chi dietro a li uccellin sua vita perde, lo più che padre mi dicea: «Figliuole,
vienne oramai, ché ’l tempo che n’è imposto
più utilmente compartir si vuole».  

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