Subject: More Purple Martins
Date: Jun 26 18:20:00 2003
From: Rob McNair-Huff - rob at

Just a quick update on the numbers of Purple Martins at two different
Pierce County sights: Titlow Beach and Ruston Way at the Dickman Mill
Park site. Natalie and I had dinner while watching at least 16 Purple
Martins at Titlow Beach two nights ago. Many of these martins are
using both the old nesting boxes and the new ones that were installed
a few weeks ago. We have not had the time to closely examine whether
there are young martins already hatched at the site, but it did
appear from our quick look the other night that there are young in a
couple of nesting boxes. Either way, this is an excellent and very
accessible site for anyone wanting to see Purple Martins in the
Tacoma area.

The other new site where martin boxes were installed just a few weeks
ago was along Ruston Way off shore of the Dickman Mill Park site near
the Harbor Lights restaurant, just a short way from our home in the
north end of Tacoma. There have been Purple Martins at this site each
day, just about from the time that the nesting boxes were installed.
Last night there was one female sitting on top of the piling closest
to shore, within easy view of anyone driving past the site on busy
Ruston Way, and another four or five martins flying farther from
shore. And when we passed the site on our way home last night around
9 p.m. there was still a female sitting on the closest piling.

In other Purple Martin news from the Tacoma area, two nights ago I
watched two Purple Martins flying and feeding over an open field at
the South Puget Sound Wildlife Area around 7 p.m., so keep your eyes
open for these birds all around the South Puget Sound area within a
few miles of water.

My only other interesting sighting so far this week was a quick
stopover by a Spotted Sandpiper in the ponds within the portion of
the SPSWA that is closed to the public. The sandpiper flew in low
over the pond and called twice, startling a Mallard female and its
ducklings and making a female Hooded Merganser dive. The Spotted
Sandpiper landed on a log on the opposite side of the pond from me
and stayed just long enough to get a couple of photos before it took
off to points unknown. It was interesting to see this bird in full
breeding plumage in the western lowlands, when I would expect it to
be hanging out along mountain lakes with its cohorts during the

One other note about the SPSWA, for those interested in watching
dragonflies and damselflies at an easy-to-reach site. So far I have
seen at least eight or nine different dragonfly and damselfly species
at this site, and many can be seen in the publically accessible areas
where there is ample public parking alongside a concrete waterway
that leads down to the fish hatchery on the site. The same area also
offers glimpses of Willow Flycatcher, Bewick's Wren, the occasional
Yellow Warbler, and over the last couple of days a male Black-headed
Grosbeak that has been putting on a great display as it calls and
flies overhead offering great views of its flashy, neotropical wings.
The same area that is good for dragonfly watching is also good for
butterflies right now, although the only species I am seeing reliably
are Red Admirable, Lorquin's Admiral, Western Tiger Swallowtail, and
Cabbage White.

Happy nature watching!

Rob McNair-Huff ---------- mailto:rob at
White Rabbit Publishing --
Mac Net Journal ----------
The Equinox Project ------