[Tweeters] Capital forest, Chehalis-Western Trail, Nisqually NWR: Thuston County

Somer, Lonnie lsomer at highline.edu
Sun May 22 08:45:49 PDT 2016

Good morning Tweeters,

I visited a few of my old haunts In Thurston County yesterday with Jim Pruske. We spent several hours birding Capital Forest. The rain began as a light drizzle and became fairly steady, with a few breaks, over the next several hours. The clouds were low, so we soon were in the fog as well. We entered via the Rock Candy entrance and worked our way up to Capital Peak. There is a lot of logging going on, and the main road (I think that it was C-4000 at this point) appears to be closed during the weekdays, when the logging is occurring, but, at least for now, it's open on the weekend, although the driving was a bit bumpy. We parked at the gate at the bottom of the road that one walks up to get to the summit. It was 46 degrees, raining hard, and totally fogged in. We did manage to hear 3 HERMIT WARBLERS and had great looks at 1 that was perched in the open; all were near the base of the road by the gate. A WILSON'S WARBLER was flitting about on the same tree as the visible Hermit Warbler. We walked up the road, but did not hear any warblers along the way. We headed out along the C-4000 to the D-1000 Roads. That way turned out to be closed due to logging activities again (I think that the closure is on D-1000). It's never boring in Capital Forest. Here is a list of species that we found:

Mallard, Pied-billed Grebe, Band-tailed Pigeon, Mourning Dove, Anna's Hummingbird, Rufous Hummingbird, Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pacific-slope Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Gray Jay, Steller's Jay, American Crow, Common Raven, Tree Swallow, Barn Swallow, Black-capped Chickadee, Chestnut-backed Chickadee, Pacific Wren, Marsh Wren, Bewick's Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Swainson's Thrush, American Robin, European Starling, Orange-crowned Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow Warbler, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Hermit Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Spotted Towhee, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbird, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, Purple Finch, American Goldfinch, Evening Grosbeak

Next, we birded a couple of miles along the Chehalis-Western Trail in Tenino, mostly south of the junction of Waldrick and Military Roads. The Equestrian Farm was bought out and the land is being converted to a prairie. The birding was very impressive and the area is quite striking. We found 44 species in the short time that we birded there (the rain had begun to ease up by this time). The most surprising species was a WESTERN KINGBIRD that we observed in a field about 200 yards along the pathway south of the Waldrick parking spot, a Thurston County first for me. Several HOUSE WRENS were singing and hanging around the W. Bluebird boxes along the way. CHIPPING SPARROWS were even more numerous. This is an excellent place to find both of these species in Thurston County. Unfortunately, we did not find any W. Bluebirds. Jim, who set-up and maintains the nesting boxes, told me that some had been captured to aid in the re-population efforts of this species in the San Juan islands, and he thinks that too many were taken from this small population.

We finished up the day with a very quick stop at Nisqually, arriving just in time for the rain to begin again. I was in quest of BLUE-WINGED TEAL. We spotted a lone male in 1 of the ponds along the dike trail along with 4 CINNAMON TEAL. At the very last pond if one walks to the end of the dike just beyond the beginning of the boardwalk, we had close encounters with 2 BANK SWALLOWS, which flew within a couple of feet of us on several occasions. In all, we saw 6 swallow species. Although we saw a number of CLIFF SWALLOWS along the dike trail, I was surprised to see that none were nesting on the Twin Barns. We also heard a couple of VIRGINIA RAILS calling from the ponds.

Even though the weather was not ideal, the rain seemed to have kept the weekend visitors to a minimum, making it less likely to get shot in Capital Forest or run down by a cyclist along the Chehalis-Western Trail, so it was a nice trade-off.

Good birding,

Lonnie Somer


lsomer at highline.edu
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