Per our annual routine Ken Brown led us on a coastal birding trip, this time a Sunday-Monday rather than the usual Saturday-Sunday because Ken, Ed, Laurel, and Lisa went on the Westport Seabirds Saturday pelagic out of Westport. The highlights of the pelagic trip were Laysan Albatross, Short-tailed shearwater, Buller’s shearwater, calm seas, sunny skies, and a huge flock of seabirds trailing a fish processing boat off Willapa Canyon. There were an estimated 5000 birds, with >50% Northern Fulmar, with lots in all three morphs, and seemingly every mutation of the morphs.
Sunday we met at the Point Brown Jetty where a steady stream of Sooty shearwaters, two Parasitic jaegers, loons, ducks, and gulls were seen, but no rock-birds. This was the story of the weekend really, nice weather, good comradery, and few shorebirds. We made several stops on the open coastal beach finding primarily Sanderling, then stops at the north end of the Oyhut Game Range (nearly devoid of shorebirds but nice looks at Merlin and Peregrine falcon) where we did manage to see an American golden plover far away across the tidal ingress stream with a flock of other shorebirds. This prompted us to return to the south end of the game range to try for closer looks at the shorebird flock. We were able to get nicer looks at the AGPL but most of the peeps had moved on.
On the way back to the hotel we stopped at the Hoquiam STP, where shorebirds were surprisingly nearly absent. We had a 7 LBDO and 15 KILL as the only shorebirds, but did see 8 Greater white-fronted geese and a modest variety of other waterfowl.
We had dinner at the usual Mexican place and overnight at the Best Western Plus (the old Guesthouse) by the river.
Monday AM we awakened to fairly dense fog by the river, and were relieved that it cleared as we drove south to Westport. At the Coast Guard Station end of the marina area we had the flock of Marbled godwits, estimated at 600+, and easily picked out the Bar-tailed godwit which in its current plumage is much paler than the MAGOs and easier than usual to find. We spent a bit of time in the overgrown fields by the Coast Guard Station and Fox sparrows were singing, WEME were found, a few American pipits were on the sparsely vegetated ground area to the left of the road in, and the sun started to warm things up a bit.
From here we headed to Bottle Beach where we had 47 species, highlighted by a grand total of 1 shorebird. A single Black-bellied plover clung to a piece of sunken driftwood as the tide came in, but no other shorebirds at all were seen. We had a good time birding the upland area finding a fair variety of passerines.
We had lunch at the Tokeland Marina, where nice new picnic tables gave us views of the wintering Willets, and we looked hard for unusual water birds, really finding nothing other than the usual Common loons, and a variety of grebes, ducks, and gulls.
At Graveyard spit we did see Caspian terns and 3 Bonaparte’s gulls, but no curlew or whimbrels.
Our last stop was at Westhaven SP where we hoped for the missing rock birds, but only Black Turnstones were found which we had already the day prior at the base of the jetty.
A good time was had by all, a big group of 19 on Sunday and 21 on Monday.