[Tweeters] Mount Walker Yesterday

B B birder4184 at yahoo.com
Wed Apr 27 09:10:30 PDT 2016


I kicked around various spots on the west side of the Sound yesterday getting as far away as Port Angeles where the Yellow Billed Loon cooperated and then ended the day with a drive up Mount Walker encouraged in part by a report recently from Dan Waggoner that included Townsend's and Hermit Warblers and Sooty Grouse.  Not knowing where I might find the birds, I used a technique that was productive last year on Bethel Ridge when I was looking for Flammulated Owls. I stopped every half mile, listened, looked, and used playback for Hermit Warbler.
At the first half mile spot, I heard a light tapping that turned out to be a Hairy Woodpecker - nothing else.  At the second stop. I tired for the warbler and heard a rustling in some branches.  When I got out of my car I heard a distant "booming" of a Sooty Grouse and was hopeful that the rustling was him in the trees.  Turned out to be a Band Tailed Pigeon (only second one I have seen this year and first photo).  The booming seemed to get closer but as is almost always the case I never could "find" the bird.  I will skip and then summarize all of the other stops except that when I got almost to the top of the Mountain, I had a repeat of the experience at the second stop with both Band Tailed Pigeon and Sooty Grouse, the former seen and the latter not.
At the top of the mountain, I chose to go to the lookout to the left (Northern I believe).  I had not seen a soul on the way up and as I hiked the short way to the lookout I found a bag that contained ... shoes and socks.  Strange.  The explanation revealed itself as I got to the viewpoint and a photographer was there with an assistant who was holding a reflective silvery thing (do not know the technical term).  They were doing an advertising shoot for a new line of ...shoes.  This was a first in my birding experience.  As they continued there shoot, I played callback for Hermit Warbler and FINALLY got a response...two Gray Jays swooped in and perched on the railing right behind the photographer.  They had been there a long while and had not seen any birds until then.  Later 4 more Gray Jays joined the party.  A Varied Thrush also appeared perching on an open branch.  I had heard others on the way up.
On the way down I tried again at a few spots for the warbler.  The sum total of birds seen and heard on the trip: 5 Sooty Grouse (maybe a sixth), 3 Band Tailed Pigeons, 6 Gray Jays, 1 Varied Thrush seen and others heard and the single Hairy Woodpecker.  I did not hear or see a single warbler and astonishingly to me, not a single Chickadee nor Wren - no Pacific Wren singing which was a total surprise.  I expect there were Hermit Warblers there being difficult for me as is generally my experience and there must have been Black Throated Gray Warblers somewhere as I found them singing in many places earlier.  Maybe it was the 4:00 - 5:00 nap time.  But it was great fun hearing (and yet again failing to see) Sooty Grouse and the Gray Jays were a treat.  The shoe shoot is now on my life list as well.
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