[Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk, 1/18/2017

Shep Thorp shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Jan 19 20:07:12 PST 2017


Hi Tweets,

10 of us enjoyed a wet one at the Refuge with intermittent rain,
temperatures in the 50's degrees Fahrenheit, breezy conditions, several
rainbows, and a High 14.5 foot Tide at 10 am. Highlights for the day
included GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, 4 BARN SWALLOWS, and our first
sighting of the NORTHERN SHRIKE this winter. Our Great Horned Owls remain
elusive, and it's been weeks since we've seen either adult.

Starting out the at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook, we had nice looks of
MALLARD, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON, RING-NECKED DUCK, BUFFLEHEAD, HOODED
MERGANSER, PIED-BILLED GREBE, AMERICAN COOT and BALD EAGLE. The dabbling
Gadwall and American Wigeon kleptoparasitize the diving birds eating
vegetation, Ring-necked Duck and American Coot.

The Orchard was very quiet, but we had great looks of Bald Eagle and BROWN
CREEPER.

The flooded fields west of the Access Road to the Twin Barns were packed
with waterfowl giving us very nice opportunities to appreciate the winter
plumage of NORTHERN SHOVELER, NORTHERN PINTAIL, and GREEN-WING TEAL. We
had great looks of CANADA GEESE, CACKLING GEESE, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED
GEESE and GREAT BLUE HERON. If you're into checking out the variety of
Canada Geese and Cackling Geese, there is lots to see. Smaller Canada
Geese that may be LESSER CANADA GEESE, and larger Cackling Geese that are
TAVERNER'S CACKLING GEESE. Most of our Cacklers are MINIMA CACKLING GEESE,
but many varieties with 10-15% having white rings on the neck between the
black neck and purple metal gray breast. We've not come across any
Aleutian Cacklers, nor Dusky Canadas, but we look for them. A
SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and RED-TAILED HAWK have been wintering in the short
stand of sparse riparian habitat in the middle of the fresh water marsh
where the Red-shouldered Hawk wintered last year. We also see Coyote
weekly in this area.

The west entrance to the Twin Barns Loop Trail was good for NORTHERN
FLICKER, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, MARSH WREN, SONG
SPARROW, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW and SPOTTED TOWHEE.


>From the Twin Barns Overlook we had nice looks of all waterfowl, and one of

our surprises of the day was four BARN SWALLOWS, flying around. We had
plenty of opportunity to observe them, as they foraged over the fresh water
flooded fields and the surge plain restoration area north. Typically the
Barn Swallows that winter in our area fly by quickly in singles, and these
birds were enjoying the balmy weather and foraging hard. We speculated
that they may be early arriving migrants possibly pushed north from the
blizzard that hit the Portland area. DOWNY WOODPECKER, BEWICK'S WREN and
FOX SPARROW were also observed.

Out on the new dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail, we picked out EURASIAN
WIGEON amongst the thousands of waterfowl. LINCOLN SPARROWS have been
reliable seen just north of the dike in Reed Canary Grass with patience -
usually the phished Song Sparrows eventually call the Lincoln's out of
hiding. Where Leschi Slough crosses under the new dike has been good for
WESTERN MEADOWLARK. Lots of hunting action to enjoy with NORTHERN HARRIER,
COOPER'S HAWK, AMERICAN KESTREL, and PEREGRINE FALCONS. We had good
numbers of Bald Eagle, approximately 15, that frequently hunt waterfowl on
all ponded, flooded areas where birds congregate. We had great looks of
GREATER YELLOWLEGS and DUNLIN moving around the estuary. Along Leschi
Slough the GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLs, RING-BILLED GULLs and MEW GULLs
congregate in good morning light for scoping. The fresh water marsh had
good numbers of male RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD's singing routine territorial
calls and other interesting less familiar vocalizations. Shannon Slough
and McAllister Creek were good for COMMON GOLDENEYE, SURF SCOTER,
RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, and DOUBLE CRESTED CORMORANT. Finally, the
NORTHERN SHRIKE made an appearance in the small Willow Tree along the new
dike south of the green closure gate in the sanctuary. This is our first
sighting of this species this winter for the Wednesday walk, and again, I
wonder it the blizzard south had anything to do with this species suddenly
showing up.

The Nisqually Overlook is reliable for COMMON MERGANSER. Chum Salmon must
still be running as we had good looks of California Sea Lion and Harbor
Seal as well. Jon Anderson picked up River Otter in the slough next to the
Twin Barns.

On our return along the East Side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, we had nice
looks of RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER and PILEATED WOODPECKER. PACIFIC WREN and
HAIRY WOODPECKER were heard.

For the day we had 58 species (+7 other taxa) with a total of 69 species
for the year.

Until next week when we do it all over again at 8am at the Visitor Center,

Good Birding!

Shep

--
Shep Thorp
Browns Point
253-370-3742
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