Like a lot of folks on Tweeters, I noted Dennis Paulson report of the Black - legged Kittiwake down at the Marine Science Center pier on 3/12, but it sounded like it flew off. Then the Grainger's reported it the next day in the same place. Not really having an excuse not to go check it out, I got off my lazy butt and went over there - I’m glad I did because the immature Kittiwake is a beautiful bird !
Lucky for me it was within my Ten Minute Circle -the farthest I’ll travel to see a rare bird. The Kittiwake was sitting on the concrete wall over by the boat launch. I walked the pier to get a closer look and I did, also managing to spook the bird which flew around and perched on the pier where it was first spotted.
Then the bird proceeded to circle the pier a few laps, dropping down for a fish a few times without luck. I did note a small school of herring under the pier, pretty hidden away from prying eyes or worse.
The Kittiwake flight was very delicate and fine to watch. Three times it flew within 6 ft of me, right at eye level, or a bit below so I got fine looks at its striking plumage - a showy black “M” formed on the leading edge of its wings and on it’s back, and its tail also rimed with black, black collar mark and eye marks. Binoculars not required.
The last time I saw a Kittiwake was in fall of 1974. First, offshore the Washington coast on a Pelagic Trip and a few on the Westport jetty. Then in Nov. of 74 saw more on another pelagic trip off Portsmouth New Hampshire, where I also saw some of the pretty immature birds. So it’s only taken 46 years to get my best view of a Kittiwake ever. Thats ambition for you.
Feeling good, I gimped up Artillery Hill, which wasn’t bird but I did see blooming Tall Mahonia, some bright Red-flowering Currants, and many blooming Indian Plum. On way home I stopped by Port Townsend’s minI- prairie, Kah Tai, and spotted some early bright yellow Lomatium (Spring Gold) which was far outnumbered by the showy reddish-purple Satin Flower - usually it’s the other way around. The swamp on the north side of th lagoon full of blooming Hazel.