2017 Annual Skagit Trip

A tiny part of large flock of near in Snow geese, not the one “blue goose”.

Sunday Dec 3 Ken Brown organized and led the annual Skagit and Samish Flat’s birding trip. This year so many ABC’ers wanted to come that he spit the trip into two groups to avoid a long caravan in traffic on the flats. The first group met Ken at the Smoky Point Rest Stop at 7:30, and the second group met shortly after about 8 AM and Ed Pullen along with lots of other strong birders headed out to follow Ken’s route.

First we got off on the first exit north of the rest area, Exit 208, and went left through Silvana and then left onto Norman Rd. Shortly after getting onto Norman Road at a house with several feeders a nice variety of feeder birds were seen, including a White-throated sparrow by just a few of us when it showed very briefly. A Sharp-shinned hawk was fanning its tail to dry in a nearby tree, and a merlin perched on a distant tree top. Further down Norman Rd was our second falcon of the day, an American kestrel, as well as several groups of Trumpeter swans and lots of fly-over Snow geese.

Prairie Falcon on Boe Rd

Where Norman Rd intersects Marine Drive, we went directly across to Boe Road where we had great looks at a Prairie falcon, first located by Bruce Labar, as well as American Kestrel and Merlin, bringing Ken’s group to 4 falcons (Ed’s would get Peregrine later, but Ken’s group had one in travel), as well as American Pipits, both common buteos Red-tailed and Rough-legged hawks, a Cooper’s hawk Ken located tucked in a distant tree, lots of Bald eagles, Western meadowlarks, as well as more and larger flocks of Snow geese overhead.

Subsequent stops at Thomie and Edie Roads yielded more of the same, and in Ed’s group the Willet’s (back care as always) brought us back to see a Northern Shrike.

Northern Shrike in the thorny brambles

From here we headed north to Skagit County, traveling on back roads up to Fir Island. At Wylie Slough we found 6 Greater yellowlegs, Ed saw 12 Black-bellied plover fly by, and we sorted through large flocks of Pine siskins hoping for a Common redpoll, and though Ken found one brief look at a likely possibility, none of us could pull a redpoll out of the hyperactive flocks of 250+ siskins.

Our group at Wylie Slough

At Hayton Reserve we were treated to an estimated 8-10,000 Dunlin in a huge flock on the high-tide remaining mudflats. Two peregrines put on a show dueling for apparent territorial rights to the flock, while the Dunlin dazzled with evasive flocking behavior. A good variety of ducks, a Harlan’s Red-tailed hawk, 12 Greater yellowlegs and about 50 Long-billed dowitchers added to our day list.

It was getting late so we skipped the rest of the dike access areas on Fir Island, and headed for the Samish Flats. A potty stop at Bayview State Park added remarkably little action on the water, with Horned grebe, Common and Barrow’s goldeneyes, and a DC Cormorant the only new species.

The Samish Flats, with most of our time spent at the West 90, yielded more sunshine, a flock of an estimated 20,000 Snow geese with at least one nicely seen ‘blue goose”, more peregrines, kestrels, a single short eared owl flew in the distance as dusk approached but probably the most unusual bird of the day was a single Long-billed curlew in a large flock of Ring-billed gulls fairly close in on one of the muddy rivulets.
Overall a nice day was had by all, and Ed’s group totaled 82 species for the trip. (Ken can make a comment re his groups totals.)

Long-billed curlew at Hayton Reserve

ABC Fall Coast Trip

The group Monday at the Tokeland Marina from Diane Y-Q.


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.

2017 Northeast WA Trip Report

Lark sparrow was a lifer for at least one of us seen on the last day at the Moses Lake Rookery entrance road.


Ken Brown led a trip to NE Washington from Thursday June 29- Sunday July 2 and we visited many of our old favorite sites and a few newer ones while totaling 148 species.
We met at the Snoqualmie Pass Reststop at 7:25 AM after hitting tough traffic and being tardy for our 7 AM meet-up. From there we headed east, our first birding stop at the Winchester Wasteway Ponds where we looked for and did not find American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt. Killdeer was the only shorebird there. We went on to Sprague Lake in Adams County, where among 42 species our favories were a Grasshopper sparrow who atypically sat on a fenceline giving great views to all and Black terns and Franklin’s Gull giving distant looks thanks to Chazz who scoped them just as we were about to leave. See Heather Voboril’s photos of the GRSP on our href=”http://ebird.org/ebird/pnw/view/checklist/S37870375″ target=”_blank”>ebird list. Additional Thursday stops were at the Sprague WTP, a stop for Burrowing Owl on the Sprague Hwy which was seen only by a few when it flushed and went into hiding in the tall grass, Brown’s Lake, the Reardon Ponds good for waterfowl, Newton Road and the vicinity in Valley trying without luck for Bobolink but surprised to hear Sora, and Hafer Road where at mid-afternoon Clay-colored Sparrow was not found. We had dinner at Subway after sweating and waiting in an upstairs Mexican Restaurant without even getting a menu, and headed for Little Pend Oreille NWR Cottonwood Campground for the night. On the way in we saw and heard Common Nighthawk and a small flock of 8 Wild Turkey as the sun set.
We camped at the Cottonwood Campground, and were up early. Heather saw a cow moose near the port-a-potty about 4 AM, but most of us slept a bit later and missed seeing a moose. We started birding at 7 AM after breaking camp and having an early breakfast. Birding was slower than is usual at the campground, missing American Redstart but seeing the expected Red-eyed vireo along with it’s genus-mates Warbling and hearing Cassin’s vireo. At the Headquarters we got the two expected hummers, Caliope and Black-chinned, but again missed AMRE. On the Auto loop our favorites were a family of White-headed woodpeckers at a nest hole see photos, along with Gray catbird and a good variety of other species. At Amazon Creek Marsh the vegetation was filling in the wetlands more than we’d remembered and we struggled for brief looks but prolonged listens to American Redstart and Northern waterthrush. We headed for Big Meadow Lake Campground to set up for the night, but despite getting there about 2 PM it was full. We anguished over how to proceed. We decided to skip birding there and look for another place to stay. It was fortunate we did as we barely found the last two sites an an unexpectedly nice campground Edgewater Campground nearby. We set up camp, looked around a bit, and drove back to Iona for dinner. This worked out pretty well. Bruce Labar heard a Western Screech Owl call once after most of us were sleeping, and Chazz and Donna heard a Common Poorwill early the next morning. Most of us just slept well ;.)
Saturday we were up early to head for Salmo Pass. There we got great looks at American three-toed woodpecker, fleeting looks at Boreal chickadee (see Heather’s photos) and really enjoyed seeing Pine Grosbeaks. After the pass we drove almost to the Salmo Mountain Lookout, stopping at the parking lot just below the tower, where we added Mountain Bluebird, heard and saw Townsend’s solitaire, and on the way back down had great looks at American three-toed woodpecker (though disappointed after some of us initially thought it was BBWO) see photos Before heading for a much needed shower and bed in Colville, we made a stop to see the Mill Pond chute.

digiscope photo of Clay-colored sparrow. See Heather’s photo on the ebird list for better shots.


Sunday we made up for missing Clay-colored sparrow by showing up earlier, and immediately heard them singing and everyone got great looks at both adults and juveniles on Hafer Rd. Heather got nice photos. and next we tried really hard for Bobolinks again in Valley. No luck but nothing beats morning in a marsh, and we really had fun seeing close-in fly by looks at both Wilson’s phalarope and Black tern. See e-bird list for photos. Next were killer looks at Ferruginous Hawks outside Odessa (see great photos by Heather) before driving to the rookery at Moses Lake for Black-crowned Night-heron and Lark Sparrow. The trip home was uneventful and I at least enjoyed my own bed last night. Another great ABC trip. Thanks to Ken for leading, Heather for being our photographer, and all for coming.

How to Use the Mobile eBird App ABC Meeting Summary

Tuesday March 7th the ABC meeting at the UP Library featured a program by Wendy Connolly of the WA Dept of Fish and Wildlife, who presented on how to use the eBird mobile app to best benefit both us as birders and the eBird data base to help conservationists and biologists do their work.
Bill Tweit, one of our WOS members, a Westport Seabirds leader, and superb birder as well as being an eBird guru was also in attendance to add a birder’s expertise and point of view. Bill talked of how by using the mobile app instead of going home and transcribing field notes into the online eBird interface saves time, improves accuracy, and maybe most important is a positive factor in relationships with non-birding partners. Now when he gets home instead of an hour on the computer entering data, he has a glass of wine with his wife.

Bill Tweit (Android) & Wendy Connally (iPhone) offer eBird help, with a bit of a flame war

An important feature of the app is that there is always a way to fix, or change choices made along the way. You can usually make these changes within the app, and if not you can make changes later using the eBird online interface. Don’t worry about making mistakes, you can fix them later.

Here is a summary of the “How to use the eBird mobile app presentation.

Download the Free eBird App:
You’ll want to have the eBird mobile app on your smart phone. You can download the eBird app from either the Apple or Google app store. It’s free, and has ongoing free upgrades and support. It looks like this on the Apple store:

After you download the app, the first time you use the app it will ask for your eBird user name and password, so that it can upload data from your mobile app into your eBird account.

Once downloaded and registered you are ready to start.

On opening the app you’ll see a screen with a big green “Start NEW CHECKLIST” icon, and several other smaller options below this.

Opening Screen:

-The “My Checklists” option brings up a reverse chronological list of checklists entered using the app.
-The “Trip Summary” brings up a summary of the sightings noted today, over a period of time you can choose, or all time.
-The little “?” icon at the left bottom is the help section of the app. Wendy says it will be your new best friend. It has FAQ options, a tutorial likely better than this one, an area to send feedback to the eBird team.
The little gear symbol at the bottom right brings you to your personal settings area.

Start New Checklist
First just click on the eBird app icon on your phone, and tap on the “Start NEW CHECKLIST green button on the screen. This brings you to an area to select your location. This can be one of the most confusing areas for beginners. Don’t let it be a roadblock.

Select Location and Starting Time:

There are seven options as to how to select your location. Wendy stressed that the default option should be the second from the top, “Choose a Location From Map.” This brings up a screen of the area you are currently located denoted by a yellow teardrop shaped marker. It may also show red markers (eBird Hotspots) and Blue Markers (Your personal locations). (note that these markers are also labeled at the bottom of the screen view)


If a Red Hotspot marker is on the screen and it appropriately describes your location you should use the hotspot location. To use a location just tap on or touch the marker you choose. Using a Hotspot marker if appropriate allows the best compilation of data. If you have birded in this location previously you will see Blue markers. If there is no hotspot you should use your previous location so that data from the location will be compiled as one location, not many separate but nearly identical locations. If neither a hotspot or a previous personal spot marker are appropriate you should use the default yellow marker. This is where you are currently located as determined by the GPS function of your phone. If you don’t choose another location, the yellow current location marker will be the default place chosen by the app.

If you use a Hotspot or Previous location the checklist for that location will load when you click next at the top right to move to the next step. If you choose a new personal location you will have a two more things to do.

Before you accept your current location you probably will want to name the location something more descriptive than the street address and longitude-latitude coordinates. This is especially helpful if no street address is shown. To do this just “long press” on the location shown, once it becomes highlighted just type in a description, for example “Dad’s Backyard” to make a personal location you can use repeatedly or at least know where the list is from. Then tap on “next” in the top R corner of the screen.

This will bring you to a screen to start a checklist.

Best practice is to do all of this right when you arrive at a new location. If you do it then the current time will be correct and you can just click on the bar at the bottom to “Start Checklist.” If you need to adjust the time you can do it by adjusting a few minutes using the + or – “Adjust Minutes” circles, you can “Reset to Now” by clicking on that option in green typeface, or you can tap on the time itself and a scroll screen will appear allowing you to change the hour and minute and even date you started birding. When the time is correct you click on the “Start Checklist” green bar at the bottom.

Sometimes it saves time to use one of the other options for selecting a location, rather than using “Choose a Location From Map.” Here is a brief discussion on when to choose a different option: (note that this information is from me, not from Wendy’s talk, so if mistakes it’s all on me.)

Choose a Recent Location: This is a descriptive label. If you birded the same location recently click this, and your most recent checklist locations will appear in reverse chronologic order. If you are at a place you birded in the last 5-10 checklist entries this may be a good option.

Create an Offline Checklist: This is for use when you don’t have a cell connection. When you choose this it will mark your location using the GPS feature of your phone, and you will need to confirm your location prior to submission of your list later when you have internet connectivity. More on this later.

Create a New Personal Location:
This should be a rarely used feature. Use the Choose a Location From Map instead so you don’t miss a nearby hotspot, or previous personal location.

Choose a Nearby Hotspot: This brings up a list of nearby hotspots instead of a map showing nearby hotspots. It may be easier if you know where you are and know it is a hotspot and you know the hotspot name.

Search Hotspots by City: Almost always a better choice to use other location options. This may be useful as a way to look for local hotspot names in a distant city, but not for actual real-time location choices.

Choose a Nearby Personal Location:
This can be useful if you know you have birded in this location previously and entered a list using your phone app. It will bring up a list of nearby personal locations. Duh?

Enter Species Sightings.
Once you choose the location a checklist of species of birds likely in that location is downloaded you are ready to enter species you encounter while birding. The best practice for data entry is to enter birds as you see them. This is practical when birding is slow, or you just seeing birds occasionally, but not really practical when birding is faster paced. IF you cannot enter birds as you encounter them try to do it as frequently as is reasonable. Waiting several hours to enter species on a longer stop lends more room for forgetting species, or for mis-estimation of numbers of birds seen. .

No “X’ Lists Rule:
At any rate however you enter data, ALWAYS try to make your best reasonable estimate of the actual number of species seen, and avoid using the “X” feature denoting you saw the species but are not saying how many A best estimate is much more useful than an “X” for data analysis by biologists and researchers.

We did learn some cool tricks for entering species information. At the top of the species lists are three options of what view to see. The default on opening is the “Likely” screen in the middle of the menu bar at the top of the screen. It lists all species deemed “usual” from the eBird database for the location you are birding. The option on the right is the “Checked” view. This shows you species and numbers already entered. On the left is an “All” option. It is for use when you need to add a species not expected in your location. It brings up a list of all 10,000+ world species, so it is no useful as a scroll through list for finding a species, but if you cannot find a species you identify in the “likely” screen, it will be in the “all” screen.

You can find a species by scrolling down through the likely species list. This is useful when entering birds after a bit of time birding. Once you find the species you want, you can enter the number seen by tapping on the + symbol at the left of the species. Each tap will add 1 to the number seen. This is fine when only a few are seen. If you see a large number tap on the species name and a screen to enter the number seen will occur. You could for example enter an estimated 500 Dunlin in a flock this way. After entering the count, just click on the “Done” button at the top of the screen.

If you are entering a species when you see it, or adding one or a few species to a list, it may be easier to use the # species name/code entry space at the top of the list. In this space you can enter the number of birds seen and the species name or 4 letter code. On iPhones you will need to put a space between the number and the species name or code. On android phones don’t use a space.

For example on my iPhone if I want to enter a sighting of 4 American Robins, I can type in the dialogue box “4 amro” which will bring a screen with American Robin as an option to select. If I tap on American Robin, the app will enter 4 next to the species American Robin. Later if I see an additional 35 robins, I could tap the number area 35 time, I could add in my head 4 + 35 and tap on American Robin to go to the species area and change 4 to 35, or I could just type in the dialogue box “35 amro” and tap on the American Robin species and the app will add 35 to the 4 and now show 39 American Robins seen. Don’t be intimidated by the 4 letter codes. The app is smart, and using a few letters of either the first or last name usually gets you to just a few species to pick from. Hint: Choose the more unique name, i.e. choose “Bay-breasted” rather than “warbler” to get a shorter list.

Review and Submit Your List:

Once you have a list complete you will want to Review and Submit the list. If you selected a location to start once you click on “Review and Submit” on the bottom of the screen a screen asking for information about your visit will occur.

Yes or No to the complete list question?:

At the top is the choice asking, “Are you submitting a complete checklist of the birds you were able to identify.” The best practice is to be able to check yes here. Remember it is YOUR LIST. You enter information for your level of expertise. Don’t worry that you missed some sightings. Use this option if you are trying to enter all the birds you were able to identify. If you were on a hike and are only entering one or two of the species you saw and making no effort to enter others you saw and could identify, then select “No.” In general try to be in a position where you can JUST SAY YES!

Choose an Observation Type:

-Traveling: This is for when you are traveling by foot or vehicle over more than a fairly limited location. If you wander up to 30 meters or so, choose a Stationary location. If travelling enter the estimated “one way” distance. On out and back hikes use just one direction to describe the actual distance of terrain covered.

-Stationary: This is for use when a location is fairly limited, i.e. up to 30 meters of so of moving about to see birds.

-Incidental: This is best for entey of a species of interest you want to document, but when you are not trying to enter all the species seen. An example is seeing a Peregrine Falcon fly in front of your vehicle while traveling, or seeing a flock of common murre fly past a ferry when you are not primarily birding.

Other: for specialized birding activities.

Number of Observers: Self explanatory, enter the number of people birding with you. Don’t worry if they are entering their own lists. You can share a list or each enter your own, if in a group describe the number of birders.

Duration: If you started the checklist when you start, and submit or end when you finish, just use the “Calculate” feature and the clock in your phone will fill in the number of minutes. If not enter the duration of your birding in minutes

If a green checkbox shows up beside any of your sightings something is unusual about the sighting, and it falls outside the eBird “filter.” First double check to be sure you have not made a data entry error. This happens often using a small screen like a phone. If it is an error you can delete the sighting by swiping from the Right on iPhones or long-tapping the sighting on androids. You can then enter the correct species if needed by clicking on the “add species” option. If you really saw what you entered, you will need to enter information in the comments section of the species. To do this tap on the species and a dialogue box will show up where you should describe the sighting, how you made the ID, what optics were used, etc. Don’t be intimidated by this, it helps the eBird reviewers assess the sighting validity and helps keep the eBird data base more valid. Then check the green box prior to submitting the checklist.

Submit the Checklist:

Once you have reviewed the list click “Submit” on the bottom of the screen and your list will be submitted to eBird and will be added to your personal account.

Offline Checklists:

When you are birding in areas where you do not have a cell connection good enough for internet data, you will not be able to select a location from a map, or using internet connectivity. In those cases you may need to enter an “Offline” checklist. Other options may be “Choose a Recent Location” if you have birded here recently. When you use the enter an offline checklist option the first option is whether to use a “Recent Checklist” or the “Full Taxonomy” option. It is almost always better to choose a “Recent Checklist” The likely species may not be perfect, but it is likely it will better facilitate species data entry that the full world taxonomy checklist .

Wendy taught us a handy way to prepare to go birding in a place where you know you’ll be offline and where none of your recent checklists will be appropriate. This is great for international travel, or for just a first trip to a place with a very different avifauna than on any of your recent checklists. In this case just start a checklist before you leave for the Hotspot you are going to visit, or for a nearby hotspot. Then leave the checklist unsubmitted, and when you get to the place, and start an offline checklist, you can use the “Recent Checklist” option to select an appropriate likely list for where you are birding. Pretty cool, like a Boy Scout, you an “Be Prepared.”

After you select a recent checklist the phone will use the GPS feature to find your location, usually within 5-10 meters. Once the location is reasonably close, click on OK and you will proceed on the same process as for every checklist.

Later, after you complete your sightings checklist, once you have internet connectivity you will just confirm the location prior to submitting. When you check “Submit” you will be forced to confirm the location in order to be able to submit the list. Just follow directions to do this.

Wendy finally gets us to the Submit page! Tah-Dah!

This is just the basic stuff, but with a little practice you’ll be entering eBird data in the field like a pro. Many thanks to Wendy and the Department of Fish and Wildlife for their continued support and teaching.

Freezathon 2017

Saturday Jan 14th Ken Brown and 15 other ABCers headed east for what has become an annual MLK weekend trip we call our freezathon.” As we have in recent years we met at 7:30 AM at the Snoqualmie Pass ski area comfort station in carpools, this year 4 cars of 4 each. Heather Vorobil was the only first timer on the trip and she rode with Ken, Ryan Wiese and myself, so caravanning was easy, and we set off for the first potty stop at the Confluence State Park in Wenachee. There we saw Redheads as well as a few other waterfowl and quickly headed for the Waterville Plateau. We went up a different way this trip, ascending through McNeil Canyon but on the way saw 9 Trumpeter Swans (unusual for this season and area) in the Columbia River just south of mile marker 229, and got a flock of about 30 Bohemian Waxwings in a tree beside the road along with a few Cedar Waxwings.

Bohemian Waxwings

We didn’t see much on the ascent through McNeil Canyon, but the day on the Waterville Plateau was wonderful. The visibility was excellent, avoiding the fog that can often make it difficult, and we saw huge numbers of Horned Larks, one flock we conservatively estimated at 2-3000, another of >1000 and many flocks we estimated to be 100-500 bitds. Interesting it seemed most of the HOLA were a pale subspecies, with very little or no yellow, and a minority were the more bright yellow birds we tend to see locally. Our theory is that this may be a big year for northern migrants in this area. We also for the first time on this annual trip found Lapland Longspurs on several occasions

Lapland Longspur


We had a pair of Short-eared owls, initially one perched, then the pair flying over a field. We also spotted a falcon we all hoped would be a Gyrfalcon, but turned out to be a very puffed up Prairie Falcon on a cliff edge for great scope views for all.

We descended from the plateau down Bridgeport Hill Rd., and Ryan managed to get us on a few Sharp-tailed Grouse as they flew from some distant trees into a cattail marsh area near the usual water birch stand. Next we got to Bridgeport State Park about 3 PM, earlier than

Northern Saw-whet Owl

usual and all got very close looks at the now seemingly annual Northern Saw Whet owl there.

We added a wintering California Gull at the toilets before the park and headed for the Omak Inn. We cleaned up, bemoaned the Seahawks loss, and had dinner at the Breadline as usual.

Sunday we spent the day in the Okanogan Highlands. On the way up we stopped a Fancher Loop to look for the usual Golden Eagle (successfully) and Chukar (not in the morning). The rest of the day was spent driving the roads, stopping for anything we could see, and being amazed at the almost entire absence of any finches of any type. No Gray-crowned Rosy Finches, no crossbills of either species, no Redpolls, no Siskins, no Pine Grosbeaks, just nothing. We did get nice looks at Ruffed Grouse, Golden Eagles, modest numbers of buteos, both Rough-legged and Red-tailed Hawks, a single Gray Jay and two Clark’s Nutcrackers. We had planned to stay for owling, but by 3 PM were just worn down by unrewarded eye-strain and headed down early to try for White-headed woodpecker, seen by the WOS group near 777 Okanogan Highlands Road, where we just could not find a place to get off the road to park 4 cars, and so we went for a last chance try for Chukar. This time the women in the back car spotted them near the usual place by the farm on the lower loop area and we all got nice scope looks as dark approached. Tonight dinner at Rancho Chico where I was thrilled at a whole new menu with a nice vegetarian section, and we all enjoyed the food.
Monday we started by going up the north end of Cameron Lake Rd looking for the White-headed woodpecker and Pygmy Nuthatches we often find in the pines near the American Flag over the road. Today it was early, cold and nearly birdless there. We saw or heard Ravens, Stellar’s Jays and little else. No action at the cattle operation and no sparrows to look over for possible American Tree Sparrows, so we headed back to the Waterville Plateau to try for Gyrfalcon and tree sparrows. No luck on the Gyr, but we did strike American Tree Sparrow nirvana. We initially found them at the copse of trees on Heritage Rd where we also looked for Long-eared owl but without success on the owl. The sparrows responded to a song recording right from the road to pop up for great views.

American Tree Sparrow


The rest of the day we looked for Snowy Owl or Gyrfalcon without success, but found a flock of about 40 American Tree Sparrows, found another 1500 or so Horned Larks, found 2-3 Snow Buntings and at least 3 Lapland Longspurs mixed in these flocks.

We called it a day about 2 PM in Waterville, where we all headed for home. A very cold weekend of good time with friends, mixed success at finding our winter specialties, but as always excited to be out birding again. I put a few more photos on my birding blog site and expect much better photos from Pat and Heather when they get them ready. Pat and Heather, please add links to your photos in comments below.

Total Species: 64
Okanogan County Species: 38
Douglas County Species: 41

Kenya Trip Report

Lesser and Greater Flamingos with Great White Pelicans and shorebirds at Lake Bagoria.

Lesser and Greater Flamingos with Great White Pelicans and shorebirds at Lake Bagoria.


Kay and I joined Bruce Labar, two other central california birders, and two guides on a 15 day birding trip to Kenya in November. James Bradley, our primary guide is almost ready with a detailed trip report on his website Birding in Kenya Safaris and I’ll let you know when this is ready, but I did a report more focused on the experience (it was fabulous) than just the birds since James’ report will be much better than any I can do re the birding. Here is the post to my report. I think I’ll be able to get James to give a talk on Kenya birding to our group next year. Kenya 2016 Trip Report.

Weekend Coast Trip

Saturday on the new steps to Bill's Spit

Saturday on the new steps to Bill’s Spit


Ken Brown organized and led a trip to the coast last weekend, and the group of 12 ABC’ers lucked out re weather with showers Saturday only until about 9 AM, a mildly blustery rest of the day, and a gloriously sunny Sunday. I took few photos, none very good, so other birders are encouraged to post flickr or other links in the comments to theirs.
Saturday we headed straight to the Hoquiam Sewer ponds with a potty stop as usual in Elma. There we really saw remarkably few birds, battled some wind and rain, and saw only a smattering of ducks, a fly over by 3 American Pipits, and 19 total species. We then headed to Ocean Shores, where on arrival the sky’s cleared nicely. Little activity was noted at the beach by the Oyhut picnic area, so we went on the Brown’s Point Jetty. By far the most exciting thing there was a large feeding frenzy of birds on an apparent bait ball of fish just off the jetty. We remarkably found zero rocky habitat shorebirds, but enjoyed an estimated 2500 Sooty Shearwaters, 800 Brown Pelicans, and lots of gulls including 300 Heermann’s Gulls. STwo species of alcids were seen including 30 Common Murres and Rhinoceros Aucklet.
Next stop was Bill’s spit, where we went next thinking mid tide would be best. There we did find our only Herring Gulls of the trip, but not the hoped for shorebird flocks. We had lunch and Diane took our group photo (above) there.
From there we birded both ends of the Oyhut Game Range. First the south end entry by the sewer ponds where we found 32 Black Turnstones at the base of the jetty, and studied a good flock of about 350 Western Sandpipers mixed with a few dunlin, least sandpipers, Semi-palmated Plovers, and a lone Black-bellied Plover.
We walked back out and looked in vain for any longspurs. From the Tonquin Ave. end we again located a good flock of mixed peeps, primarily WESA, but found a single Baird’s Sandpiper near the edge of the flock for excellent views.
On the way back to Aberdeen we drove and stopped on Burrow’s Road and again revisited the Hoquiam Sewer ponds hoping for better luck, but really found little of added interest. Dinner as usual at the Mazatlan was good, and we stayed at the old Guesthouse, now a Best Western.
Sunday we had breakfast a bit before the official opening time of 7 AM and got off about 7:10. First stop was at Tokeland, first a drive by At Graveyard Spit where fog prevented any viewing. Next fog again at Tokeland, where we really saw just a few Willets and a Belted Kingfisher.
Next we headed for Midway Beach were a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper was seen the day prior. This turned out the best shore-birding of the trip, with about 17 Pectoral Sandpipers along with an 18th that in flight was intriguing as a possible Sharp-tailed, but remains just intriguing. We also found a Ruff, lots of American Pipits, and a nice fly by of a Golden Plover we called American based on wing length, coloration, and call note.
At Bottle Beach we hit the tide perfectly, but except for a nice group of 5 Baird’s Sandpipers found only a good flock of Black-bellied Plover, a mix of the usual peeps, and relatively few birds that failed to congregate very well as the tide came in.
On the way home we chased Sabine’s Gull in Pierce County at Sunnyside Beach, Steilacom seen earlier that day by Bruce Labar, but without luck.
A nice trip, with 90 species, 17 shorebird species, and a few really nice birds seen. As usual great fellowship and a good time had by all. Thanks to Ken for leading.
Here is an e-Bird trip summary:

Species Name Sep 17 Sep 18 Sep 19 Sep 20 Sep 21 Sep 22 Sep 23
Cackling Goose — 45
(1) — — — — —
Canada Goose 30
(6) — — — — — —
Gadwall 50
(2) — — — — — —
American Wigeon 50
(3) 2
(1) — — — — —
Mallard 80
(6) 1
(1) — — — — —
Mallard (Domestic type) 1
(1) — — — — — —
Northern Shoveler 60
(4) 8
(1) — — — — —
Northern Pintail 100
(5) 40
(2) — — — — —
Green-winged Teal 30
(4) 30
(2) 4
(1) — — — —
Greater Scaup — 3
(1) — — — — —
Surf Scoter 300
(3) 150
(4) 3
(1) — — — —
White-winged Scoter 13
(2) 30
(1) — — — — —
Barrow’s Goldeneye — 1
(1) — — — — —
Common Merganser 1
(1) — — — — — —
Red-throated Loon 2
(2) — — — — — —
Pacific Loon 20
(1) — — — — — —
Common Loon 4
(3) 1
(2) 4
(1) — — — —
Pied-billed Grebe 1
(2) — — — — — —
Horned Grebe 2
(1) 3
(1) — — — — —
Red-necked Grebe — 8
(1) 10
(1) — — — —
Western Grebe 20
(1) 8
(2) — — — — —
Sooty Shearwater 2,500
(1) — — — — — —
shearwater sp. 1
(1) — — — — — —
Brandt’s Cormorant 12
(1) 4
(1) — — — — —
Pelagic Cormorant 8
(2) 6
(4) — — — — —
Double-crested Cormorant 15
(6) 4
(4) 2
(1) — — — —
cormorant sp. — 200
(2) — — — — —
Brown Pelican 800
(3) 60
(5) — — — — —
Great Blue Heron 3
(6) 1
(2) — — — — —
Great Egret — 2
(1) — — — — —
Turkey Vulture 2
(1) — — — — — —
Northern Harrier 1
(2) — — — — — —
Sharp-shinned Hawk — 1
(1) — — — — —
Black-bellied Plover 8
(3) 80
(1) — — — — —
American Golden-Plover — 1
(1) — — — — —
Semipalmated Plover 12
(2) — — — — — —
Killdeer 2
(2) — — — — — —
Bar-tailed Godwit — 1
(1) — — — — —
Marbled Godwit — 1,000
(2) — — — — —
Black Turnstone 32
(1) 11
(1) — — — — —
Ruff — 1
(1) — — — — —
Sanderling 5
(2) 1
(1) — — — — —
Dunlin 7
(1) — — — — — —
Baird’s Sandpiper 1
(1) 5
(1) — — — — —
Least Sandpiper 40
(4) 20
(1) — — — — —
Pectoral Sandpiper — 18
(1) — — — — —
Western Sandpiper 350
(3) 200
(1) — — — — —
peep sp. 11
(2) 2
(1) — — — — —
Long-billed Dowitcher — 2
(1) — — — — —
Greater Yellowlegs 1
(1) 3
(1) — — — — —
Willet — 8
(1) — — — — —
Common Murre 30
(1) 7
(1) — — — — —
Pigeon Guillemot — 1
(1) — — — — —
Rhinoceros Auklet 6
(1) — 1
(1) — — — —
Bonaparte’s Gull — 2
(1) — — — — —
Heermann’s Gull 300
(2) 300
(4) — — — — —
Mew Gull 4
(2) 1
(2) — — — — —
Ring-billed Gull 50
(4) 80
(1) — — — — —
Western Gull 6
(5) 4
(3) — — — — —
California Gull 200
(6) 500
(3) — — — — —
Herring Gull 2
(1) — — — — — —
Glaucous-winged Gull 12
(5) — 2
(1) — — — —
Western x Glaucous-winged Gull (hybrid) 20
(1) — — — — — —
Western/Glaucous-winged Gull 280
(8) 100
(6) 14
(1) — — — —
gull sp. — 400
(1) 10
(1) — — — —
Caspian Tern 8
(5) 6
(3) — — — — —
Rock Pigeon — 12
(1) 2
(1) — — — —
Eurasian Collared-Dove — 1
(1) — — — — —
Mourning Dove — 1
(1) — — — — —
Belted Kingfisher — 1
(1) — — — — —
Northern Flicker 1
(1) 3
(3) 1
(1) — — — —
Peregrine Falcon 1
(1) 2
(1) — — — — —
Steller’s Jay 1
(1) — — — — — —
American Crow 4
(7) 4
(2) 6
(1) — — — —
Common Raven — 2
(2) — — — — —
Barn Swallow 12
(2) 11
(2) — — — — —
European Starling 40
(1) 400
(2) 4
(1) — — — —
American Pipit 8
(3) 50
(2) — — — — —
Cedar Waxwing 1
(1) 1
(1) — — — — —
Orange-crowned Warbler — 1
(1) — — — — —
Common Yellowthroat 1
(1) 4
(1) — — — — —
Yellow-rumped Warbler — 2
(2) — — — — —
White-crowned Sparrow — 1
(1) — — — — —
Golden-crowned Sparrow 1
(1) — — — — — —
Savannah Sparrow 30
(8) 30
(2) — — — — —
Song Sparrow 2
(2) 2
(2) — — — — —
Red-winged Blackbird — 2
(2) — — — — —
Brewer’s Blackbird — 20
(1) — — — — —
House Finch 5
(1) — — — — — —
House Sparrow — 2
(1) 8
(1) — — — —