[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday morning walk 3/21/12

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Mar 22 16:13:47 PDT 2012

Hi Tweets,

Sixteen of us enjoyed a partly sunny morning at the Refuge, a nice change
from the rain, with temperatures in the 40's degrees Fahrenheit and a Low
2'8" tide at 12:16pm. Highlights included great looks at a male Rufous
Hummingbird perched on a Salmon Berry Bush, many Canada Geese searching for
nest locations high in the Maple and Cottonwood Trees, fly by of two Wood
Duck, up close perched immature molting into adult plumage Cooper's Hawk,
and Great Horned Owl owlets.

Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am, we were greeted
with a beautiful male Rufous Hummingbird perched on a Salmon Berry Bush
adjacent to the platform and an American Bittern just below along the
waters edge. A Red-tailed Hawk was perched in the deciduous tree just west
of the center. Paired up Hooded Mergansers, Mallards and Canada Geese were
in the pond. Additional species seen were Cackling Geese, American Robin,
Red-winged Blackbird, European Starling, Northern Flicker, American x
Northwestern Crow Hybrid, House Finch, and Song Sparrow.

The flooded fields south of the Access Road were a good place to view
Northern Shoveler, Ring-necked Duck, and Bufflehead. A few Great Blue
Heron's were around perched and foraging. We observed Golden-crowned
Sparrow and Purple Finch feeding from blossoms of a Willow Tree in the
strip of Riparian Woodland, Golden-crowned Kinglet was heard.

The flooded fields west of the Access Road and south of the Twin Barns
provided additional waterfowl viewing including Green-winged Teal and
American Wigeon. We also observed American Coot and flying over the fields
many Tree Swallows.

On the Twin Barns Loop Trail, we had very nice looks of Yellow-rumped
Warbler (mostly Audubon's with one Myrtle variety seen), Bewick's Wren,
Marsh Wren, Song Sparrow, a large flock of Dark-eyed Junco (Oregon variety)
and our second American Bittern of the day. We had a quick but fun fly by
of two Wood Ducks whistling their whining alarm call. Additional species
seen were Downy Woodpecker and Northern Flicker.

>From the Twin Barns Observation Platform we had terrific viewing of

Gadwall, Bald Eagle, Tree Swallows, Northern Shoveler, Northern Pintail,
American Wigeon and another pair of Hooded Mergansers.

Out on the Nisqually Estuary Trail (new dike) we observed an immature
Cooper's Hawk fly into the big Maple Tree just north of the Twin Barns next
to the slough. The nearly crow sized hawk remained perched for
approximately ten minutes giving everyone a great opportunity to study it.
The underside of the tail was layered with the shorter outer rectrices
visible on the underside of the longer inner rectrices and an overall more
rounded look to the end of the tail. The nape of the hawk appeared crested
and the brown streaks on the breast and belly seemed fine. The cap was
darker then the auricles which made me suspect this bird was molting into
the adult plumage. Other nice finds on the Nisqually Estuary Trail
included Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, 100+ Violet Green
Swallows, Northern Harrier perched and flying over the fresh water side,
Lesser Scaup, and Dunlin. We observed additional Great Blue Heron, Bald
Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk and waterfowl.

>From the Observation Tower at the start of the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk

Trail we added Eurasian Wigeon and Common Goldeneye to our list. The male
Eurasian Wigeon was paired with a female American Wigeon. Jerry scoped a
cinnamon headed, gray and red sided male Wigeon which was probably an
American x Eurasian hybrid. From the McAllister Creek Observation Platform
we viewed and scoped Great Egret, Red-necked Grebe, Horned Grebe,
Red-breasted Merganser, Double-crested Cormorant, Greater Yellowlegs, Mew
Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Glaucous-winged Gull, Glaucous winged x Western
Gull Hybrid (Olympic) and Belted Kingfisher. Both Bald Eagle nests on the
west side of McAllister Creek, north and south of the platform, had birds
sitting in the nests. We met up with another group of birders who
confirmed Burt's sighting of the Red-necked Grebe, and were confident they
had seen two Great Egrets which we could not confirm.

The Puget Sound Viewing Platform required scoping to help us see 80+ Black
Brant, Red-throated Loon, Common Loon, Brandt's Cormorant, and Pelagic

On our return, we viewed Common Mergansers at the Nisqually River Overlook.
We heard or observed Brown Creeper, Black-capped Chickadee and Pacific
Wren on the east side to the Twin Barns Loop Trail. Fortunately, we
re-found two Great Horned owlets and one adult just west of the beaver dam
in the short stand of Riparian Forest. One of the owlets flew to a lower
perch, both owlets have well developed primary flight feathers. I suspect
these owlets were born around the end of January or beginning of February.

A great day with lovely weather for a change, 69 species and a total of 105
species for the year. Mammals seen were Eastern Gray Squirrel.

Until next time, happy birding!

Shep Thorp
Browns Point
sthorp at theaec.com
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