Date: 3/16/17 10:41 am From: Shep Thorp <shepthorp...> Subject: [Tweeters] Nisqually Wednesday Walk - 3/15/2017
twelve of us braved another wet walk on Wednesday with rain, temperatures in the 50's degrees Fahrenheit, and a High 13 foot Tide at 8:06am. Highlights included FOY WOOD DUCK, GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Eurasian), RUDDY DUCK, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, and continuing GREAT HORNED OWL.
Starting out at the Visitor Center at 8am, we had nice looks of COMMON MERGANSER and HOODED MERGANSER.
Along the west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, we had great looks of RING-NECKED DUCK, BEWICK'S WREN and HAIRY WOODPECKER. Richard spotted the GREAT HORNED OWL in a tree, two trees south and east, of the nest tree from two years ago that looks like a giant cocktail fork in the north riparian stand. In recent past years, we have seen owlets approximately 2 weeks after observing the adults. Currently, we are only seeing one owl, and consequently are concerned that nesting has been unsuccessful. The owl was also visible from the north and east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail. The north side of the Riparian Woods had dozens of YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, almost all were Audubon's variety. We also saw our FOY RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, both male and female, feeding on Salmon Berry flowers. FOX SPARROW was seen, PILEATED WOODPECKER was heard.
At the Twin Barns Overlook, we had fantastic views of GREEN-WINGED TEAL, NORTHERN PINTAIL, AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN SHOVELER, and AMERICAN COOT. Flying overhead were dozens of white-bellied swallows, most were VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS and many TREE SWALLOWS were seen as well. The GREATER YELLOWLEGS were scattered through out the Refuge in the flooded fields, fresh water marsh, and tidal estuary.
Out on the new dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail, we got to pick through hundreds of foraging waterfowl. In the surge plain we found a GREEN-WINGED TEAL (Eurasian) with a nice white horizontal line between the side and wing and lacking any markings from the shoulder transversely between the breast and belly. We also noticed this individual seemed to have more prominent white lines around the green eye patch. Last year at this time we spotted this species in this same area of the Refuge. An uncommon spotting of RUDDY DUCK in the fresh water marsh. Other species seen along the dike included GADWALL, PIED-BILLED GREBE, GREAT BLUE HERON, NORTHERN HARRIER, AMERICAN KESTREL, and RED-WINGED BLACK-BIRD. VIRGINIA RAIL was heard.
On the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, we had good looks of SURF SCOTER, BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, LEAST SANDPIPER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, MEW GULL, and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL. The south nest on the west bank of McAllister Creek is occupied with a BALD EAGLE, nesting, which is most visible from the Observation Tower and McAllister Creek Viewing Platform. The nest can also be seen directly west of the Access Road west of the west parking lot, and from the Twin Barn Observation Platform. This pair nested last March as well. From the Puget Sound Viewing Platform (or end of the boardwalk) we had great looks of EURASIAN WIGEON and BRANT GEESE. We also had distant sightings of SCAUP, COMMON LOON, and BRANDT CORMORANT. BELTED KINGFISHER, STELLER'S JAY, and VARIED THRUSH were heard along the west bank of McAllister Creek.
The Nisqually River Overlook is still a good spot for COMMON MERGANSER. We observed nesting WOOD DUCK on the inside of the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail just south of the Beaver Dam. PACIFIC WREN was seen at the Riparian Forest Overlook. On the southeast side of the loop trail near the aqueduct we observed a MINK.
We checked out the Orchard in the afternoon and located BROWN CREEPER. Along the Access Road or Maintenance Road we had nice looks of RED-TAILED HAWK, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, and SPOTTED TOWHEE. We also had good looks of GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW's, but at this time of the year they move up into the trees to presumably feed on insects prior to migration.
The flooded fields had plenty of water and lots of good views of waterfowl in good numbers. The CACKLING GEESE are decreased but still number in the hundreds which can be typically seen dawn and dusk as the fly out or in to the Refuge for their day of foraging in the valley.
We had over 70 species for the day with 98 species for the group walk for the year. FOY included WODU, GWTE (Eurasian), RUDU, RUHU, VATH.
Mammals seen included Cotton-tailed Rabbit, Eastern Gray Squirrel, Harbor Seal, California Sea Lion, Columbia Black-tailed Deer and Mink.