[Tweeters] Mason County WOS trip 26 March 2016

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Sat Mar 26 20:44:06 PDT 2016

Hi Tweets -
Today I joined 13 others for a fun day of great birding in Mason County - this was the 8th time I’ve led this annual trip, and for a change the weather actually cooperated as we made our way around the Hood Canal seeing as many species as we could dig up.

Highlights and main stops:

Elfendahl Pass Road:
Mountain Quail - barely heard - just a few responses
California Quail!! - these are nearly nonexistent in Mason Co., and we had a few calling spontaneously and repeatedly while we went looking for Mountain Quail - as with the MOUQ, we didn’t get look - but still a nice double-quail start to the trip.

Belfair State Park - Our first bunch of Hood Canal water birds included White-winged & Surf Scoters, a couple Red-throated Loons, Common & Barrow’s Goldeneye, Northern Pintail… Horned Grebe.. our first pugetensis White-crowned Sparrows of the day [spring!]

Theler Wetlands was birdy and still was hosting the Snow Goose that has been present for a couple weeks now. A handful of Greater White-fronted Geese were also still sticking around — We picked up another couple sign-of-spring birds with Rufous Hummingbird & Savannah Sparrow. On the loop trail, we got glimpses of Virginia Rail and flushed a Wilson’s Snipe — In the forest, we also had a small flock that included two Hutton’s Vireos and an Orange-crowned Warbler — I admit to not spending enough time on the OCWA since I was hopeful it would mean we’d see them throughout the day - it was the last we saw.

Moving south down the east side of Hood Canal, we stopped at Twanoh SP and picked up Brant, Common Loon, Red-necked Grebe.

At Union, a bit of scoping eventually turned up a handful of Black Scoters - and a Bald Eagle startled and provoked a fly-by from our first Osprey of the season. Nice!

In the fields north of Hunter Farms, a flock of 20-30 Greater White-fronted Geese were still present

We ate lunch at Potlatch SP, and pulled Pigeon Guillemot & Pacific Loon out as new birds for the trip - the first three of several Turkey Vultures soared overhead as well.

Skokomish Park @ Potlatch, just north of there, had a messy looking Eared Grebe, always a good trip bird

George Adams Hatchery produced one of the nesting American Dippers for a great close show, then we headed up Skokomish Valley - Wood Ducks were in a roadside pond, Scott glimpsed a male Brown-headed Cowbird [our only cowbird of the day], and a few Eurasian Collared-Doves made a fly-by.

Up Forest Route 23 to High Steel Bridge, we turned up Western Bluebirds in a clearcut, then at the bridge, saw our second Osprey of the day in a distant snag.
[and enjoyed great views]

We couldn’t find a Green Heron at Eells Hill Hatchery where they nest, but moved up Eells Hill Rd and near the intersection w/ Dayton Airport Rd we were happy to pull out a Band-tailed Pigeon to make a 4 pigeon day.

Little Egypt road always looks super promising -today it hosted our only Hooded Merganser of the day, surprisingly our only Bewick’s Wren!, and more Virginia Rail.

Next stop was in Shelton, where we wandered the Mountainview Neighborhood — Western Scrub-Jays were cooperative, as were Eurasian Collared-Doves. Anna’s Hummingbirds eventually showed up, and we managed to add House Sparrow to the list!

At Isabella Lake, American Coots and Pied-billed Grebe [for a 5-grebe day] popped up.

Our final stop was Kennedy Creek, where the tide was far enough out that we couldn’t coax a Black-bellied Plover to show up in Mason Co - we did manage Dunlin as our final species for the day.

Overall, I believe we tallied 92 species for the day — along with the cooperative weather and fun crew, quite a good day.

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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