Date: 7/4/19 2:26 pm From: Shep Thorp <shepthorp...> Subject: [Tweeters] Billy Frank Jr Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk 7/3/2019
about thirty of us had a cool but very nice day at the Refuge with cloudy skies and temperatures in the 50's to 70's degrees Fahrenheit and a Low -3.51ft Tide at 12:47pm. Highlights included fledgling WOOD DUCK, BARN SWALLOW, CLIFF SWALLOW, BULLOCK'S ORIOLE, YELLOW WARBLER, DOWNY WOODPECKER, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, MARSH WREN, and BALD EAGLE. The morning chorus is still pretty sweet, but the breeding species parents are very busy foraging for insects so summertime change is slowing down the sightings. A large flock of bachelor BROWN-HEADED COWBIRDS works the mud flats during low tide. I made an early morning dash to the Puget Sound Viewing Platform at the end of the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk to catch the falling High 13.17ft Tide at 5:27am and had great looks at LEAST SANDPIPER and WESTERN SANDPIPER. The terminus was good for spotting WESTERN GREBE, RED-NECKED GREBE and WHITE-WINGED SCOTER in the Puget Sound. The Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail is scheduled for closure July 16th for approximately 60 days to replace the bridge between the Observation Tower and the Shannon Slough Photo Blind.
Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am, we had nice looks at WOOD DUCK and ducklings.
The Orchard was good for BULLOCK'S ORIOLE x 3, two adults feeding juvenile. We also had nice looks of YELLOW WARBLER, CEDAR WAXWING, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH, TREE SWALLOW, VAUX'S SWIFT, and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK. There is a couple of WARBLING VIREOS on territory in tall Cottonwoods, but super tough to find - audible only.
Along the Access Road we enjoyed ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, SAVANNAH SPARROW, and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT. Over our grass covered fields many swallows were observed including TREE SWALLOW, BARN SWALLOW, CLIFF SWALLOW, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW and BANK SWALLOW.
The west side of the Twin Barns loop trail was good for SWAINSON'S THRUSH, DOWNY WOODPECKER, PACIFIC SLOPE-FLYCATCHER, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, BLACK-CAPPED and CHESTNUT BACKED CHICKADEE, BUSHTIT, BROWN CREEPER, and YELLOW WARBLER. There is an active RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD nest over the inner rail of the boardwalk in an overhanging Maple Tree branch just north of the twin bench overlook before you get to the Twin Barns Cut-off.
The Twin Barns Overlook had very good observation of RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, CEDAR WAXWING, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK and COMMON YELLOWTHROAT.
Out on the dike, or Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail, the restored surge plain had good numbers of peeps including LEAST SANDPIPER and WESTERN SANDPIPER. SAVANNAH SPARROW, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and MARSH WREN are readily seen and visible on breeding territory along the dike. The fresh water marsh and mud flats are good for observing many species of swallows and good numbers of juveniles. A few frantic moments with alarm calls did not produce any raptors. VIRGINIA RAIL was heard in the fresh water marsh.
Out on the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail we had three River Otters running across the mud flats. We checked in on our BALD EAGLE nests along the McAllister Creek west bank ridge. The nest south of the McAllister Creek Viewing Platform has two chicks, the one adjacent to the Puget Sound Viewing Platform has one chick. The juveniles look larger than their parents so I suspect they are about to fledge. We had great looks of CALIFORNIA GULL, RING-BILLED GULL, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL and CASPIAN TERN. There is a second cycle early migrant MEW GULL in the area. We also had nice looks of BELTED KINGFISHER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW. The CLIFF SWALLOWS have built a late colony of nesting mud huts in the McAllister Creek Viewing Platform which is a real treat to enjoy. Especially if you're into photography. Unfortunately the platform is covered with guano and mud. PURPLE MARTIN continue to nest at Luhr Beach.
On our return we picked up WILSON'S WARBLER near the Riparian Forest cut-off. That bridge is being repaired as well! This is also a good area for WARBLING VIREO singing.
For the day we had 67 species with 147 species for the year. Mammals seen included Eastern Cotton-tailed Rabbit, Eastern Gray Squirrel, River Otter, Harbor Seal, Harbor Porpoise, and Columbia Black-tailed Deer.
Until next week when we do it all over again, good birding!