[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk - 3/9/2016

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Mar 10 09:06:42 PST 2016


Hi Tweets,

thirty of us enjoyed a wet day at the Refuge with light rain, temperature
in the 40's degrees Fahrenheit, and a Low 2'2" Tide at 11:55am. Highlights
included FOY RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD and relocated BUFFLEHEAD X COMMON GOLDENEYE
HYBRID and INTERGRADE GREEN-WINGED TEAL.

Starting out at the Visitor Center at 8am, we had great looks of HOODED
MERGANSER, PIED-BILLED GREBE and MALLARD. RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER and
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW were also observed. PACIFIC WREN was heard in the
stand adjacent to the parking lot.

Checking the flooded fields along access road we had nice observations of
TREE SWALLOW, VIOLET-GEEN SWALLOW, NORTHERN SHOVELER, NORTHERN PINTAIL and
GREEN-WINGED TEAL.

Along the west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail in the pond we had great
looks of RING-NECKED DUCK and WOOD DUCK. DOWNY WOODPECKER, BEWICK'S WREN,
RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, SPOTTED TOWHEE and SONG SPARROW were also seen. Many
of our breeding CANADA GEESE were searching for nest sights in the tall
Maple and Cottonwood Trees which is something that we typically see this
time of year. We did observe one goose on a nest in the grasses of the
pond edge. Two VIRGINIA RAIL were heard near the cut-off for the Twin
Barns and a Peale's variety of PEREGRINE FALCON was spotted high up in a
tree over the Nisqually Overlook. We saw our FOY RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD
protecting Salmon Berry flowers adjacent to the cut off. The GREAT HORNED
OWL is still bedded down in the nest tree, the larger of two snags, on the
inside of the north section of the Twin Barns Loop Trail. She has nested
now for 12 weeks, my understanding is that incubation may be 28-34 days
with the chicks appearing 1-2 weeks after hatching. As we have not seen
any signs of chicks, we speculate the first clutch was nonviable.
Fortunately the other adult was seen adjacent to the nest cavity in the
last several days, so it seems both adults are still committed. In the
last 8 years we have often seen owlets in January and February, however
Phil Kelley reports that previous to that, sightings were often in March as
well.


>From the Twin Barns Overlook we bumped into a large flock of YELLOW-RUMPED

WARBLER, both Audubon's and Myrtle variety. BROWN CREEPER and FOX SPARROW
were also seen. We've observed a good number of AMERICAN COOT wintering in
both the flooded fields and fresh water marsh.

While walking along the Nisqually Estuary Trail, or new dike, we had nice
looks of AMERICAN WIGEON, RUDDY DUCK and MARSH WREN in the fresh water
marsh. On the surge plain and mud flats there were plenty of GREEN-WINGED
TEAL, GADWALL, RING-BILLED GULL and MEW GULL seen.


>From the Observation Tower at the beginning of the Nisqually Estuary

Boardwalk Trail, Russ Smith spotted the BUFFLEHEAD X GOLDENEYE hybrid
foraging in a tributary of Shannon Slough. This white-headed, white-sided
diving duck with a sloped brow and iridescent green stripe down the central
crown and nape appears to have a golden eye. We have seen this bird two
weeks ago, and possibly two years ago during the same time of year:

https://flic.kr/p/EXjd9v

We also observed GREAT BLUE HERON, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, COMMON GOLDENEYE,
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, SURF SCOTER and hundreds of BUFFLEHEAD.

On the inside of the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, from the McAllister
Creek viewing platform, we relocated the Intergrade AMERICAN GREEN-WINGED
TEAL X EURASIAN GREEN-WINGED TEAL:

https://flic.kr/p/EXjmor

The north nest of the southern nesting pair had an adult BALD EAGLE
nesting. In previous years this southern pair has started nesting in March
which appears to be on schedule. We also added LEAST SANDPIPER, GLAUCOUS
WINGED-GULL and GLUACOUS WINGED X WESTERN GULL hybrid or Olympic Gull to
our list.

At the end of the boardwalk or Puget Sound Viewing Platform, Jon Anderson
spotted a Black MERLIN perched over the mud flats. We had nice distant
looks of BLACK BRANT GEESE, BRANDT'S CORMORANT, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and
BELTED KINGFISHER.

On our return, we picked up AMERICAN KESTREL along the south side of the
new dike making it a 3 falcon day. COMMON MERGANSER was seen at the
Nisqually River Overlook. We bumped into another nice mixed flock of
BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, BROWN CREEPER,
GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, RUBY CROWNED KINGLET, DOWNY WOODPECKER and BEWICK'S
WREN along the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail.

For the day we had 63 species, with 99 species for the year so far.
Mammals seen included Harbor Seal, Columbia Black-tailed Deer, and River
Otter.

Until next week when we meet again at 8am at the Visitor Center.

Good birding,

Shep Thorp
--
Shep Thorp
Browns Point
253-370-3742
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