Date: 6/20/19 12:41 pm From: Shep Thorp <shepthorp...> Subject: [Tweeters] Billy Frank Jr Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk for 6/19/2019
about 25 of us had a nice spring walk at the Refuge with mostly overcast skies and temperatures in the 50's to 60's degrees Fahrenheit. There was a Low -2.10ft Tide at 1:42pm, and we were treated to a nice morning chorus that warmed up through out the day. Highlights included juvenile WOOD DUCK, MALLARD, BARN SWALLOW, TREE SWALLOW, CLIFF SWALLOW, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, DOWNY WOODPECKER and BALD EAGLE.
The Refuge plans to perform work on the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail and Riparian Forest Overlook this summer sometime in July and August. The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail requires a longer span bridge over a channel that drains into Shannon Slough between the Observation Tower and the Photo Blind. Therefore the entire Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail will be closed for many weeks during this two month period of time. The Riparian Forest Overlook has been closed since the winter when a large Cottonwood fell and broke the bridge over a tidal fresh water channel. Hopefully this will reopen in the Fall.
Starting out at the Visitor Center at 8am, we enjoyed baby WOOD DUCK and MALLARD in the Pond. We had great looks at BARN SWALLOW and YELLOW WARBLER.
The Orchard was good for WARBLING VIREO, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, TREE SWALLOW, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, CEDAR WAXWING and BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD. BULLOCK'S ORIOLE was heard.
I decided to lead the walk in reverse, hoping to listen for Red-eyed Vireo (not heard) near the Riparian Forest Overlook cut off, so we entered through the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail. A pair of BUSHTIT have a nest immediately adjacent to the opening along the south side. PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER, BEWICKS WREN, AND WILSON'S WARBLER were singing. We had good looks of WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, SWAINSON'S THRUSH and additional BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK along the east side. As well a family of CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE feeding young.
The Nisqually River Overlook was quiet with a few Mallard.
The north side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail has a DOWNY WOODPECKER nest cavity in a multi-trunked snag outside the trail. Adults were in the area and a chick was calling from the nest cavity. We also had good looks at WILLOW FLYCATCHER, ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, and more Cedar Waxwing.
The Twin Barns Overlook provided nice observation of Tree Swallow, nest and young. CLIFF SWALLOW, Willow Flycatcher and Cedar Waxwing. The grass is very high making spotting difficult. The bramble, Alder and Cottonwood Trees along the slough are growing tall enough to block views north of the salt water estuary.
Out on the dike, or Nisqually Estuary Trail, we had good looks at BANK SWALLOW, PURPLE MARTIN, and NORTHERN FLICKER. We probably observed upwards of 8 Bank Swallow over the fresh water marsh and many of us speculate that these may be local breeders from further up Nisqually River and/or McAllister Creek. Other sightings included SAVANNAH SPARROW, MARSH WREN, COMMON YELLOW THROAT, and good numbers of RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD.
The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail was good for Cliff Swallow mud hut nests at McAllister Creek Viewing Platform. Both BALD EAGLE nests, west bank of McAllister Creek, have chicks/juvenile that are about to fledge. BELTED KINGFISHER and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW are nesting along the west bank of McAllister Creek as well. We observed RING-BILLED GULL, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, CALIFORNIA GULL and CASPIAN TERN on the mudflats. RED-TAILED HAWK were soaring on thermals over McAllister Creek Ridge. Dozens of GREAT BLUE HERON were feeding along the mouth of McAllister Creek during the low tide. Numerous DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT and gulls were observed roosting on the reach.
On our return, we had additional sightings of previous birds. The morning chorus extended into the afternoon with the cooler temperatures.
55 species for the day, nothing new for the year with 144 species seen thus far on the walk.
Mammals seen included Eastern Cotton-tailed Rabbit, Townsend's Chipmunk, Muskrat, Harbor Seal and California Sea Lion.
Phil Kelley is well, but on leave for the next few weeks. I'll be leading the walk with the help of other volunteers and regulars. With our many spotters we look forward to observing juveniles and the the return of peeps with post breeding migration of shorebirds southward with the start of Summer next week! Until then...
Good birding, Shep -- Shep Thorp Browns Point 253-370-3742