we had a pretty nice day considering the forecast, as the rains held off until the evening. 40 of us enjoyed cloudy skies, occasional light rain, temperatures in the 40's degrees Fahrenheit and a High 14.02ft Tide at 12:18pm. Highlights included continuing NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL, FOY WILSON'S SNIPE and RED-THROATED LOON, DUNLIN show with murmurations of high count 1,500 and breeding pair PEREGRINE FALCON on the hunt.
Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook we observed Wilson's Snipe, BUFFLEHEAD, RING-NECKED DUCK and AMERICAN WIGEON. The Northern Saw-whet Owl continues it's winter roost in a small cedar across from the east parking lot along the entrance road. The tree is taped off to control people from getting too close, please respect Refuge Rules and do not wander off trails.
Checking the fields on either side of the old McAllister Creek Access Road we had nice looks at CACKLING GEESE, NORTHERN SHOVELER, and NORTHERN PINTAIL, The AMERICAN KESTREL was perched on the Twin Barns and has been reliable seen in this area and the snags in the surge plain.
We decided to head out on the west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail to catch the incoming tide. ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was seen at the entrance. We had good observations of COMMON RAVEN, NORTHERN FLICKER, DOWNY WOODPECKER and HAIRY WOODPECKER. RED-TAILED HAWK was seen at the Nisqually Overlook, out on the reach, and along the entrance road.
Again, the Twin Barns Overlook is terrific for scoping waterfowl in the flooded fields south and west. We had a nice mixed flock of SONG SPARROW, FOX SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO (OREGON), RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET, and BROWN CREEPER. The picnic area had a flock of upwards of 30 GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW's.
Out on the new dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail, the tidal push brought in a nice size flock of 500 DUNLIN. We had a terrific show with a breeding pair of PEREGRINE FALCON that hunted the flock and speed driven flashy murmuration. The mud flats and waters edge of the surge plain and tide flats had great numbers of GREEN-WINGED TEAL and AMERICAN WIGEON. Four EURASIAN WIGEON were seen during the day, 3 male and one cinnamon headed female closely followed by a male. We also had good looks at RING-BILLED GULL, MEW GULL, GADWALL, GREAT BLUE HERON and GREATER YELLOWLEGS. On both sides of the dike we observed NORTHERN HARRIER with a high pitched squeaking call. On the fresh water side we enjoyed AMERICAN COOT, HOODED MERGANSER and MARSH WREN.
On the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail we had great looks of COMMON GOLDENEYE, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER and a fly by ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD. SPOTTED SANDPIPER was seen working the west bank of McAllister Creek and we had up close looks at LEAST SANDPIPER in the salicornia near the terminus. Scope views of the sound and reach helped us to add BRANDT'S CORMORANT, SURF SCOTER, and Red-throated Loon. A huge flock of 1,000 Dunlin were working the marsh plain, possibly looking for a place to roost during the high tide.
Both pair of breeding BALD EAGLES have been restoring their nests along the west bank, carrying branches and resting on the nests.
On our return we discovered a nice winter mixed flock of BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, BEWICKS WREN and PACIFIC WREN. RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKER was observed along the southeast side. We ended the day at the Orchard, and observed a COOPER'S HAWK fly into the flooded field adjacent to the entrance road and catch an American Wigeon or Green-winged Teal. The hawk drowned the water fowl and dragged it to the near shore to consume. This is the first time I've seen a Cooper's Hawk predate on water fowl.
We had 61 species for the day, with 71 species for the year. Mammals seen include Muskrat, Columbia Black-tailed Deer, Harbor Seal and California Sea Lion.
Until next week, when Phil promises to return from Arizona.
Good birding, Shep Thorp
-- Shep Thorp Browns Point 253-370-3742 <(253)%20370-3742>