[Tweeters] Weekend WOS Trip to San Juan County [Sep 9-10, 2017]

Matt Bartels mattxyz at earthlink.net
Tue Sep 12 05:09:15 PDT 2017

Hi Tweets -
This past weekend, Sep 9-10, I led a WOS trip to Lopez & San Juan Islands. Eight of us looped around Lopez on Saturday, San Juan on Sunday, checking a number of beaches and parks and seeing what September has to offer. It was a lot of fun, with about 82 species showing up over the course of the two days.

Saturday 9 Sep - Lopez Island
The biggest rarity on Saturday, our Lopez day, was rain — Though we are all hearty PNW-ers, we admitted having grown so used to smokey and hot that we weren’t quite prepared to the normal soggy life. It rained, steady but not hard, for most all of Saturday. We continued to bird away, but did skip a few longer hikes.
Our first major stop was Spencer Spit State Park, where we hiked down to the spit— the water’s edge was crawling with some type of small crab, and the rain began as we sorted through the large roosting gull flock. A group of peeps tried to elude us, eventually stopping here and there for looks at Western and Least Sandpipers. Taghrid pulled out two Semipalmated Plovers staying close to the grass on the beach. American Pipits, the first of several sightings over the weekend, were flitting about, occasionally landing for good views.

A stop at Hummel Lake gave us our first Barn Swallow flock of the day along with a nice group of Yellow-rumped and Orange-crowned Warblers moving rapidly. At the marsh near Airport Rd. on Fisherman Bay Rd., a good variety of ducks was on display - Wood Duck, Blue-winged and Green-winged Teal, Gadwall, American Wigeon, and Ring-necked Duck.

Down at Fisherman’s Bay, we enjoyed looks at Black Oystercatchers and more peeps, and out on the water found several Harlequin Ducks, Horned & Red-necked Grebe, and a good number of Rhino Auklets.

After lunch at the preserve at the end of Fisherman Spit, we opted not to take the longer hike at Iceberg Point, our next intended stop — Instead, we moved on to the Sperry Peninsula, where we found more Semipalmated Plovers. Wild Turkeys were along Aleck Bay road as usual - 2 adults and three very young young. MacKaye Harbor gave us our only Greater Yellowlegs of the day, and the tanks at the end of Richardson Road offered excellent looks at a pair of Marbled Murrelets, still in alternate plumage.

Sunday 10 Sep - San Juan Island
We awoke to blue skies [yaay], but low-hanging fog [booo] — the fog lifted by the time we got to American Camp though, and we soon had beautiful weather for birding.
At False Bay, on the high tide, we had a good collection of Western and Least Sandpipres again, along with Semipalmated Plover and more American Pipits. At the 4th of July Beach, we couldn’t see out to the water, but we did enjoy our first Fox Sparrow of the fall and another Semipalm Plover on the beach. At the American Camp meadow, we spent a long time enjoying the foxes, and also found about 5 Whimbrel in the fields — our only American Kestrel of the trip gave brief views, along with a more cooperative Northern Harrier. Overhead, we were surprised by a few Purple Martins. Down at South Beach, a pair of Anna’s Hummingbirds were zooming around, along with nice brief looks at Lincoln’s Sparrow.
Down at Cattle Point, we had good views of all three cormorant species, one Black Turnstone and not too many species feeding in the current. Our lunch stop was back at American Camp, where we enjoyed a surprise visit by a Townsend’s Solitaire migrating through.
After a return to 4th of July Beach, where we could now enjoy Surf & White-winged Scoters on the water, we headed to the west side of the island — Great views out there, but not many birds around.
The final notable bird of the trip came as we pulled out of Friday Harbor on the Ferry - we were settling in when a Parasitic Jaeger zoomed by chasing a couple gulls — unfortunately, only a couple of us were able to get views before the ferry moved onwards.

Overall, a fun weekend with good hearty birders —

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA

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