[Tweeters] Nisqually Refuge Wednesday Bird Walk

festuca at comcast.net festuca at comcast.net
Thu Sep 1 07:49:07 PDT 2016

Hi folks,

This week’s Wednesday walk at Nisqually felt like the last day of Summer, after a month of sun and warmth, the temperature was near 60 degrees, but the clouds were threatening. About 35 people, mostly ‘locals’ but including a few out-of-state visitors, had gathered, and were welcomed by Refuge Volunteer Phil Kelley. He pointed out a very cooperative VIRGINIA RAIL at the Visitors’ Center pond. As we were leaving the HQ, Phil felt a bit unwell, so did not continue, and we hope he is feeling better.

The orchard was uncharacteristically slow for birds, although we had good views of BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS and RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER in the mix of BLACK-CAPPED and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES, WARBLING VIREO, BUSHTIT, and WHITE-CROWNED SPARROWS. The service road and loop trail to the Twin Barns were also pretty quiet, although a BAND-TAILED PIGEON was spotted on a fly-by.

Walking from the barns to the estuary dike got us into another nice flurry of activity, with more chickadees, YELLOW and BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLERS, and at least one LINCOLN’S SPARROW in the mix of WHITE-CROWNED and SAVANNAH SPARROWS. An adult WILLOW FLYCATCHER was feeding a late fledgling. The AMERICAN KESTREL was on her perch on the snag in the restoration area, but no other falcons, and few BALD EAGLES, were seen. Richard & Ethan did get good photos of an immature COOPER’S HAWK.

The tide was ‘way out, with the -0.3 foot low at 11:42 a.m., so most of our attention was focused on the freshwater marsh on the south side of the marsh. A WILSON’S SNIPE and 2 VIRGINIA RAILS were seen in the company of a MINK and a pair of MUSKRATS in some remaining standing water amongst the cattails near the base of the estuary boardwalk. The few shorebirds we had this morning were seen here as well, with a flock of 19 KILLDEER, a SEMI-PALMATED PLOVER, and a few LEAST SANDPIPERS. Out on the flats, we heard GREATER YELLOWLEGS. We determined to return rather than walk to the end of the estuary overlook on the low tide. The rain became steady with our return along the east side of the loop trail, and the birds’ activity was somewhat reduced, but an ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD was feeding on the abundant yellow Impatiens blossoms.

For the day, the group had 49 species, and – as most of us are Northwesterners – welcomed the cooling rain in the waning days of Summer.

As a side note, I had lunch at the nearby Nisqually Grill and returned to the Refuge for the incoming high tide, hoping to see what shorebirds might come in with the rising water. I saw the “usual suspects”, but nothing of note. However, on my return along the loop trail at the turnoff to the river overlook, I found a HUTTON’S VIREO in a mixed flock of chickadees, Downy Woodpeckers, and Yellow and Black-throated Gray warblers.


Jon. Anderson

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