Date: 9/7/17 11:48 am From: Shep Thorp <shepthorp...> Subject: [Tweeters] Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk for 9/6/17
well, we had a smoke and ash overcast day with temperatures in the 70's and 80's degrees Fahrenheit with a Low 0.17ft Tide at 12:28pm. The poor air quality, muggy temperatures, immense mud flats with the low tide, and summer doldrums provided an apocalyptic feel for the day. We suspect the fires on North Peak Mount Rainier and Mount Jolly in Cle Elum, along with other forest fires in eastern Washington and Oregon, have contributed to the smoke and ash. I could not stay for the entire day so Jon Anderson helped with the dike, boardwalk and Nisqually Overlook. We only had 51 species for the day with highlights including GREEN HERON, RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER, SWAINSON'S THRUSH, AMERICAN PIPITS, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, and BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER.
With the Swallow-tailed Gull recently reported at Point Wells, Snohomish County north of Richmond Beach, as recently as Tuesday September 5th, we had a couple of bird watchers from out of town join us hoping to see some of our regular birds.
Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am, we had good looks of WOOD DUCK, HOODED MERGANSER, AMERICAN COOT, NORTHERN FLICKER, and RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD.
AMERICAN PIPIT and another flock of SAVANNAH SPARROW are moving through with good sightings both on the fields south of the Twin Barns and out on the dike. The Refuge has started mowing fields in preparation of intentional spring fed flooding for the wintering waterfowl.
Along the west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail we had high counts of COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, all gender and age varieties, vocalizing with a "chew" call note. Many Savannah Sparrow were high in Willow Trees along the edge habitat. RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was a life bird for some of our out of town birders. We had good looks of WILLOW FLYCATCHER, BROWN CREEPER, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, SONG SPARROW, SPOTTED TOWHEE, juvenile WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. Last week we did not see SWAINSON'S THRUSH, but we picked up two about 70 feet high in our single Douglas Fir Tree or "Peregrine Tree" in the middle of the riparian habitat.
The Twin Barns Overlook was slow with a few MALLARD, BARN SWALLOW and DARK-EYED JUNCO, and additional looks at previously seen species.
Out on the dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail TREE/VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, more American Pipit, were added to the list. On the tidal side NORTHERN PINTAIL, GREAT BLUE HERON, COOPER'S HAWK, BALD EAGLE, RING-BILLED GULL, AMERICAN KESTREL, PEREGRINE FALCON. On the fresh water side we observed NORTHERN SHOVELER, VIRGINIA RAIL, GREEN HERON - best seen August and September at Nisqually, and WILSON'S SNIPE.
On the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, Jon Anderson and the intrepids, picked up DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, GREATER YELLOWLEGS, WESTERN GULL, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, WESTERN X GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL HYBRID or Olympic Gull, BELTED KINGFISHER, and COMMON RAVEN.
During our return along the north and east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail, and including the Nisqually Overlook, we added ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, BUSHTIT, BEWICK'S WREN, and female BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER.
51 species for the day, with 154 species for the year thus far. Notably, we are lacking sightings on varieties of shorebirds, owls and salt water birds which usually help get us closer to 170.
Mammals seen included Mink and Eastern Gray Squirrel.
I believe they still have plans to replace the bridge just south of the photo blind on the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, pending permits, so there will likely be two closures this Fall on the boardwalk - 1) maintenance - variable; 2) hunting season - after the middle of October.
Until next week when Phil will return to lead the walk, good birding!