Subject: [Tweeters] Billy Frank Jr Nisqually NWR Wednesday Walk for
11/20/2019 Date: Thu Nov 21 16:30:03 PST 2019 From: Shep Thorp - shepthorp at gmail.com
thirty of us had a beautiful cool crisp Fall day at the Refuge with fog or
overcast skies in the morning converting to sun by late morning.
Temperatures were in the 30's to 50's degrees Fahrenheit with frost on the
boards to start, making for slick conditions. We had a High 14.14ft Tide
at 12:21pm for a great tidal push and spectacular show of thousands of
waterfowl. Highlights included collared CACKLING GOOSE, continuing
RED-SHOULDERED HAWK, PEREGRINE FALCON pair devouring duck breakfast, FOY
TRUMPETER SWAN, and new bridge between Observation Tower and McAllister
Creek Viewing Platform on the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk Trail. The
boardwalk estuary trail is reopened up until the closure gate at the last
700 feet for hunting season until February 1st.
Starting out at the Visitor Center Pond Overlook at 8am, we had great
viewing of WILSON'S SNIPE, RING-NECKED DUCK, GADWALL, AMERICAN WIGEON,
BUFFLEHEAD, MALLARD and RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET. The Barn Owl that was
roosting in the Visitor Center the previous week has not returned for
The morning started off slow with the cold temperatures and little bird
movement. The Orchard was good for DOWNY WOODPECKER, RED-BREASTED
SAPSUCKER, (SOOTY) FOX SPARROW and SPOTTED TOWHEE. As part of weed
control, the Refuge has removed significant amounts of Himalayan Blackberry
bramble from around the Orchard changing the behavioral patterns of the
GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, which are regularly seen around the Parking Lot,
Access Roads, and Dike Roads. An immature RED-TAILED HAWK and NORTHERN
HARRIER were hunting the flooding field adjacent to the Entrance Road.
The Access Road was good for CHESTNUT BACKED CHICKADEE, GOLDEN-CROWNED
KINGLET, and YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER. We had good numbers of NORTHERN
PINTAIL in the flooded fields south and west. The flooded field west of
the Access Road and south of the old McAllister Creek Access Road was great
for CACKLING GEESE - 300+, WILSON'S SNIPE - 7+, and NORTHERN SHOVELER. One
of our Cacklers had a yellow neck collar with black writing with a keyhole
shape (horizontal) and 9% (vertical) that will be reported to the Bird
Banding Laboratory. We try to report all our band sightings.
One of the best shows of the morning was a pair, male and female, of
PEREGRINE FALCON, on a snag in the surge plain scoped from the old
McAllister Creek Access Road. The female Peregrine was eating a duck with
the male perching guard, the pair undisturbed by any harassing Bald Eagles.
The west side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail was good for GOLDEN-CROWNED
KINGLET, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, BROWN CREEPER, DOWNY WOODPECKER, SONG
SPARROW, BEWICK'S WREN and PACIFIC WREN. The front part of our group got
great looks at the RED-SHOULDERED HAWK hanging out around the Maple Tree
Stand next to the Twin Barns. The Refuge habitat with all of our gravel
roads and dikes, provides many barriers for prey species like Garter Snakes
and Voles. I believe the Red-shoulder Hawk and the Great Blue Heron are
successfully benefiting from this edge habitat.
The Twin Barns Overlook was good for WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO
(OREGON VARIETY), AMERICAN WIGEON, NORTHERN PINTAIL and NORTHERN SHOVELER.
We had additional decent looks at the RED-SHOULDERED HAWK.
Out on the dike or Nisqually Estuary Trail, a pair of BALD EAGLES, is
renovating a nest in a large Cotton Wood Tree approximately 1/2 mile north
along the west bank of the Nisqually River, just south of the old Ring
Dike. The tidal push was a spectacle with at least 6,000 waterfowl in the
surge plain east of Leschi and flooded marsh west of Leschi Slough. Over
2-3,000 AMERICAN WIGEON with 3 EURASIAN WIGEON seen. Over 1-2,000 AMERICAN
GREEN-WINGED TEAL and 2-300 NORTHERN PINTAIL. There were plenty of
MALLARDS and NORTHERN SHOVELERS, and a few GADWALL. The flooded marsh on
either side of the boardwalk had good numbers of BUFFLEHEADS. The BALD
EAGLE, PEREGRINE FALCON, RED-TAILED HAWK and NORTHERN HARRIER were all
actively hunting. We enjoyed decent numbers of shorebirds, GREATER
YELLOWLEGS 15+ and DUNLIN 300+. We also had good looks at RING-BILLED
GULL, MEW GULL, CALIFORNIA GULL, and GLAUCOUS WING X WESTERN GULL Hybrid.
Three TRUMPETER SWANS flew over the Refuge.
With the bridge repaired between the Observation Tower and McAllister Creek
Viewing Platform, we were able to enjoy the Nisqually Estuary Boardwalk
Trail and pick up nice sightings of HOODED MERGANSER, RED-BREASTED
MERGANSER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, and BELTED KINGFISHER. Just off the
McAllister Creek Viewing Platform we observed about 60 LEAST SANDPIPER,
perched up in the dried out Grindelia or gum weed during the high tide.
>From the closure gate at the end of the board walk we could scope COMMON
LOON, PACIFIC LOON, BRANDT'S CORMORANT and DOUBLE CRESTED CORMORANT.
On our return on the east side of the Twin Barns Loop Trail we added HAIRY
WOODPECKER, TOWNSEND'S WARBLER, and MERLIN to our days count. There were
30 KILLDEER seen in the muddy field just south of the Twin Barns. The best
place to look for the Great Horned Owl is along the north section of the
Twin Barns Loop Trail and the east section in between the beaver dam and
the twin benches. The owl is most frequently seen on the inside of the
All in all, we had 68 species for the day, with 167 species for the year.
TRUMPETER SWANS were FOY. Mammals seen included Eastern Gray Squirrel and
Until next week when we get to do it all over again, happy birding!