[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR May 3, 2016 (longish)

Christopher Clark cjbirdmanclark at gmail.com
Wed May 4 15:53:56 PDT 2016

Yesterday a friend and I went birding at the Nisqually National Wildlife
Refuge (now officially called the Billy Frank Jr. Nisqually NWR) and had a
great day with many first of year birds! First off, the weather was great.
Mostly sunny and warm, with a refreshing breeze coming from the north. The
day started off with a FOY (first of year) Yellow Warbler singing somewhere
near the parking lot. Several more of these were heard throughout the day.
Walking past the restroom we scanned the visitor center pond where we had 5
Wood Ducks, 3 males and 2 females, as well as a Hooded Merganser pair, plus
a Gadwall couple. Barn Swallows were flying around and an active nest was
seen in the corner of one of the buildings. Next we headed down the gravel
path towards the twin barns. Scanning the nearly dry fields yielded
dwindling numbers of waterfowl. Aside from Canada Geese and Mallards, all
our waterfowl were seen in only the single digits, with Green-winged Teal
being the most numerous...We had 8 for the day! Two male Cinnamon Teals
marked another FOY bird, and a Greater Yellowlegs was seen in one of the
few remaining puddles. We cut back over to the visitor center pond and saw
another male Wood Duck, plus a female Hooded Merganser with nine new

Heading down past the twin barns and towards the boardwalk yielded FOY
Blue-winged Teal in the freshwater marsh, as well as two FOY Long-billed
Dowitchers. Two pintail and a lone female Bufflehead were all the
representatives of their species we saw for today. We started the boardwalk
at low tide, so not many birds present. A flock of Least Sandpipers flew
by, a lingering female Common Goldeneye was seen, and a definite change in
gull concentrations was noticed. Mostly Ring-billed Gulls were present with
a handful of Mew Gulls. Both Glaucous-winged and "Olympic" Gulls were seen
in larger numbers than usual, indicating migration. We also had a possible
1st year Herring Gull hanging out too, but I'm unsure of the ID. Photos
were taken and I'm currently working to see if a definite ID can be
established. FOY Caspian Terns were seen, and several Black-throated Gray
Warblers were singing in the forest across McAllister Creek. A Black-headed
Grosbeak/Western Tanager was singing in this area too, but it was too
distant for me to confidently call. The Puget Sound viewing platform
revealed a nice adult Bald Eagle (I still can't figure out where their nest
is) and several Great Blue Herons hanging out in the distance. Northern
Rough-winged Swallows were heard and several dark Swallows were flying over
the water at a distance, which may have been Purple Martins.

Heading back we had a flock of Violet-green Swallows flying around. Once we
got back to the gravel path on the dike, a nice female Yellow-headed
Blackbird gave us excellent views as she perched in a tree in the Saltwater
side. Photos revealed some interesting behavior. In this tree (or shrub or
whatever it is) there was a spider web caked with bugs. She was picking and
eating bugs from it! Very interesting. On the Twin Barns loop trail we
picked up other birds such as Brown Creeper, FOY Western Tanager at the
Riparian overlook junction, and a Song Sparrow uttering a very, very
deceptive "whit" call that sounded exactly like an early Swainson's Thrush!
Finally we scanned the visitor center pond again where a Cinnamon Teal pair
was seen, plus a raccoon on the opposite side of the pond and a Possum in
the woods between the boardwalk and gravel trail!

So for the day we had 55 species (56 if Herring Gull sighting is correct).
Notable misses included Wilson's Warbler (I was really hoping for at least
one), Orange-crowned Warbler, and Yellow-rumped Warbler. None were seen or
heard anywhere! So all in all, an awesome day with some awesome birds!
Here's the day's checklist:


Happy Birding!
Christopher Clark
Sumner, WA
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