[Tweeters] 2 Snowy Plovers on Dungeness Spit
mombiwheeler at gmail.com
Mon Apr 24 20:46:59 PDT 2017
After almost becoming seasick reading Bruce's pelagic birding account
yesterday, I decided to bird the ocean from land along Dungeness Spit
today. The weather was very mild with only a gentle breeze, and best of
all, no rain! The birding was pretty amazing also (full list on eBird).
Several species of sea birds in breeding plumage were very close to shore,
the most common being RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS and HORNED GREBES. The water
was so calm that I could hear the grebes call to one another. One pair
even performed a courtship dance, which I had never witnessed before.
RED-THROATED (none of them in full breeding plumage), PACIFIC, and COMMON
LOONS were all present, with one of the latter letting out a loud yodel
call. A BALD EAGLE came flying in low over the water at one point and
swooped over a Red-throated Loon, making it dive, then it circled back and
did it again, It finally landed on a log, looking very smug with itself. I
saw nearly 40 species in all (including during the forest walk), including
CASPIAN TERNS, BRANTS. 2 MARBLED MURRELETS, 1 RHINOCEROS AUKLET,
BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERS, DUNLIN, WESTERN SANDPIPERS, 1 SANDERLING, and 3
flocks of SEMIPALMATED PLOVERS. I was perhaps 3 miles up the spit when I
encountered the last of the SEPL flocks. I immediately noticed that 2 of
the plovers were lighter and a bit smaller than the others, and that they
had smaller, incomplete rings (bilateral patches) on their necks. I
realized that they were SNOWY PLOVERS! I've provided a more detailed
description on eBird. I did not have a camera with me, so no photos, but
I'm certain of the ID.
There were substantially fewer birds on the walk back in the early
Perhaps a mile before the lighthouse, I began to see some very large sea
lion bulls (Steller's?) just offshore. Some appeared to be dozing on their
sides, while others watched me go by, with just their heads sticking out of
the water. One gave an enormous yawn, showing all of his teeth.
While on the Bainbridge/Seattle ferry going home this evening, I saw an
enormous flock of gulls to the south, a bit before the halfway point.
There were a few thousand of them strung out over a mile or more. Most
were sitting on the water, but some were flying back and forth. Very
impressive sight. I'm curious if other birders have seen this, perhaps on
your evening commute.
mombiwheeler at gmail.com
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