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.

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) — — — —

Rolan Nelson Memorial Great Gray Owl Trip

Our Group in Spring Creek after Ryan's family joined us.  Photo by Diane Y-Q

Our Group in Spring Creek after Ryan’s family joined us. Photo by Diane Y-Q


Our ABC Birding club took off on Friday May 20th and headed south on a trip to find the Great Gray Owl in LaGrande, OR as a tribute to Rolan Nelson, one of our longtime members who passed away last year. GGOW was one of his long-time nemesis birds, one I believe he never saw, and our hope had been that his widow Kathleen would join us on the trip. Kathleen was unable to come due to a work conflict, but the rest of us had a great adventure as Rolan would have wanted us to do.

Friday we caravanned south, 4 cars, 14 birders, to our first stop to the cemetery on Balsh Rd, Lyle, WA. There under sunny skies we had FOY looks for many of us at Ash-throated flycatcher, Lesser Goldfinch, White-breasted nuthatch, Chipping Sparrow, and others. checklist

Ash-throated Flycatcher by Diane Y-Q

Ash-throated Flycatcher by Diane Y-Q

To see a photo montage of the whole trip visit Diane’s Flickr site

From there we headed to the Acorn Woodpecker granary, where we found neither the granary tree or the woodpecker, but heard a wild turkey gobble, saw a male Western Tanager up close, and enjoyed the sunshine. checklist

Western Tanager by Diane Y-Q

Western Tanager by Diane Y-Q

Next stop was Rock Creek, where we birded the gravel road, had great looks at more Lazuli buntings and a Yellow-breasted chat. We also saw my FOY Willow Flycatcher. checklist

We spent the first night in La Grange after a good Mexican meal in Pendleton

Saturday we were up early to seek the Great-gray owl ner Spring Creek on nest boxes provided by the Walawa-Whitman National Forest management group. We headed back east out of La Grande, and onto FR 21 where after a few more turns came to the area for the first search. This area involved a walk through beautiful monotone meadows on a muddy two-track road looking for the promised Purple polka-dotted flag to mark the first nest box area. We looked, and we looked, and found no tape/flag but did manage two very brief fly-by sightings of large, gray silent owls. One look seen by most was adequate to ID the GGOW but not good enough to feel satisfied. The next was only seen by Ken and myself, and was much more fleeting, in a deeper forest area. We got good looks at Mountain bluebird, and enjoyed the exercise. checklist

After this we sent to the box described as where everyone goes. We figured out why, it’s where you can actually find the box and see the owls. The box had 3 downy chicks, and we had one good but brief fly in by the adult presumed male to feed them a rodent.

by Pat Dameron

by Pat Dameron


By Pat Dameron

By Pat Dameron


DSCN0912
Better photos to follow when our photographers send them. As we got ready to flee the incoming rain a male Williamson’s sapsucker treated us to a great show, working a vertical “V” of sapsucker holes on a tree near the nest box. checklist with photos

We spent the rest of the day birding a large wetland near La Grande called Ladd Marsh. This area has huge colonies of Northern Pocket Gophers, and this brings in large numbers of hawks, Swainson’s (12), Red-tailed, (10) and Northern Harriers. (10).
DSCN0946

In addition there were large numbers of Yellow-headed blackbirds, lots of waterfowl, and just generally good birding. See checklist.

We drove back to Pendleton for dinner and a room, as due to multiple graduations in Walla Walla we couldn’t find space there. We enjoyed excellent food, service and ambiance at The Prodigal Son Brewery and Pub.

Sunday we headed back to WA and Biscuit Ridge where we targeted Green-tailed towhee on a day when it was flat out cold and windy. We battled through the elements and most of us got at least fleeting looks at a GTTO. We got to hear it sing along with at least one more farther down a slippery, wet, rocky hillside. Just after seeing this some of us got on an adult Northern Goshawk as it flew up the valley. After briefly considering a try for Great-gray owl in WA where it has been seen on Jasper Mountain Rd, we decided to stop shivering and head for lower ground. checklist

Millet Pond, near the mouth of the Walla Walla River, has had Glossy Ibis recently, and so we headed there to explore, warm up, and seek Blue-winged teal, Yellow-headed blackbird, Black-crowned Heron, and a good afternoon of birding. We got all of this in spades (except only Donna saw the YHBL). We had good numbers of Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, two GWTE, Lots of AWPE, a nearly invisible Wilson’s snipe, and after a long walk and good exploring by Donna LaCasse we got on a flock of 6 White-faced ibis near the back of the wetlands. Other good birds were Eastern Kingbird and Bullock’s oriole. checklist with photos

Many of us extended the day with a trip to the Tyson Blood Ponds hoping for a White-rumped sandpiper seen there the prior day, but neither our group nor prior birders relocated one. It was a cool place, with lots of Black-necked stilts, a few ducks, and Greater yellowlegs and Spotted sandpiper. Checklist

We spent our last night in Yakima after dinner in Pasco. The last day we headed for Oak Creek Canyon where it seemed like Lewis’s woodpeckers were everywhere
DSCN1002
and Rock wrens were singing from several of the basalt columns.
DSCN0997
We added good looks at one of several MacGilvery’s warblers we heard, and tried for looks at drumming Downy woodpeckers and Red-naped sapsuckers. checklist

I’ll let another of the group finish the report of the day about the stop at Bethel Ridge as I left early to drive home to help out participants with a family emergency. (use the comments to discuss the last stop)

Rolan, we wish you had been able to be with us, and remember you with fondness. RIP.

I also wrote daily posts on my personal birding notes readers are welcome to see. Day 1, Day 2, Day 3, Day 4

Here are a few more of Pat’s nice photos.
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20

Banded Swainson's

Banded Swainson’s

04

ABC Trip on Repositioning Cruise LA to Vancouver

Repositioning Cruise LA to Vancouver. May 3-7, 2016. Limit 12 persons. 8 spots left. Sign up by Friday Jan 22 to assure a spot.

I have set up a trip for ABC on a Princess Cruise ship for the purpose of looking for pelagic birds. Size limit for the group will be 12. The ship leaves Los Angeles on May 3 at 4 PM and arrives at Vancouver BC at 7:30 AM at May 7th. There is a single port-of-call at Victoria BC from noon until 11:30 PM on May 6th. There should be a good part of May 6th in WA waters.
I have used an agent to reserve 6 double person inside berths at what seems to me to be an excellent cost of $634/ room, or $317./ person double occupancy. This includes everything except tips and alcohol. These reservations will be held just until noon EST on this Friday Jan 22nd. To reserve a spot on the trip send an email to Gail Agamie. I expect the spaces to fill quickly, so sign up right away.

I have arranged for Bruce Labar, a spotter on Westport Seabirds, to come with us so we have expertise to recognize the birds As an inducement to Bruce to come I agreed that ABC members would pay $30. each which if 11 of us come will cover his cruise fee. A bargain given that to do the same trip with wings is $275. per person plus cost of the cruise.

This is a different type of pelagic cruising. No stopping for birds, viewing mostly through a spotting scope, and several days long. A big plus is much less motion, so seasickness should be less of a concern.

So far Ken Brown, Bruce Labar, Art Wang and myself (Ed Pullen) are signed up. 8 spaces left. I expect them to fill fast. There is no financial commitment to sign up. Just send you full name and date of birth to:

Gail Allen Agamie
Cruise Consultant
Cruise Vacation Outlet
5575 S. Semoran Blvd Ste. # 4
Orlando, FL 32822
Toll Free: 1-800-797-4635 Ext 137 #
Local: 407-275-2244 Ext 137 #
Fax: 775-206-1012
Gail@CruiseVacationOutlet.com
www.CruiseVacationOutlet.com

Please also send me an email at edwardpullen — at — gmail dot com.

ABC Event Dec 2 – Dr. Sievert Rohwer on molt

Sievert Rohwer, retired from the U and the Burke, had us eating out of his hand on December 2nd with his inside view of molt and what we don’t know about it! Now, thanks to his work, we know that feather regrowth can’t be hurried, that all feathers grow at the same rate in most species, and that main differences between molt strategies have to do with how many feathers are molted at the same time: Simple (one at a time), Complex (various strategies including stepwise), and Simultaneous, with most feathers molted together. But each feather takes the same amount of time, whether all at once or one at a time. An extreme example of this is that it would take Argentavis, the giant prehistoric bird, almost 2 years to molt each primary one at a time, but it would take 7 months to molt 3 at a time, which could have been doable in a beast that size (like the giant prehistoric penguins).

We also know that breeding and molting in larger birds might not happen in the same year due to the cost to the bird. Studies on the breeding grounds of Laysan Albatrosses have determined that 20% of the population fails to appear each year to breed, but that they come back to breed the next year, so they spend some away time recovering and molting. However, Laysan males might attempt to breed even before they’re fit in order to maintain their pair bond in a female-centric society. Their pattern appears to be alternate years of major molts and then smaller molts, with P6-P7 being the key.

During molt, Western Kingbirds, Black-crowned Night Herons, and Double-crested Cormorants have been studied, but few other species. Much research remains to be done and could keep graduate students busy for many years. In the case of Laysan and Black-footed Albatrosses, some years ago, researchers were aboard trawlers that used drift nets in a study to determine how dangerous these nets were to these threatened species, which is why these two species have been studied, but no other albatross species (and yes, drift nets were determined to be a menace). The recovered albatross specimens from this once-in-a-lifetime study have been keeping researchers busy ever since.

Some interesting birds demonstrate seemingly “chaotic” molt, including herons, cuckoos, and kingfishers. In a study done at the U on specimens of cuckoos shipped in from many museums and schools, “transilient” molt was found, where blocks of feathers will molt, each block separated by a node, but each individual feather surrounded by non-molting feathers on each side. This is not well understood or well observed yet except in Cuckoos, especially the Common Cuckoo, and of course they don’t molt on our continent.

An interesting factoid is that if a feather is cut or traumatized, even though the keratin is “dead,” some sensor, perhaps in the filoplume, responds and starts an immediate molt and regrowth of that feather. Another interesting item was growth bands on feathers!! Yes, like trees!! Light days and dark nights show up in daily bands on young feathers. And many more fascinating tidbits, like those Limpkins and their supposed proximal molt pattern.

Two main points: (1) all of this applies just to primaries, which are the easiest to study; and (2) we’re still learning the “rules” of molt.

Thanks, Dr. Rohwer! We will be looking forward to having you back and hearing your work on migration!

Photos below – Click to enlarge:

Pierce County TAS Field Trip

Today 12 TAS birders set out to see what we could find in Pierce County on a drop-dead beautiful sunny day. I had scouted the saltwater spots over the last few days and except for the King Eider not much was terribly interesting so we decided to try some other areas. After meeting at the Hwy 512-I5 park and ride we headed for the Mountain View Cemetery marsh and oak woodlands. Raptor’s ruled the early morning, with two Peregrine Falcons spotted right off by Richard Smethurst and later Red-tailed hawk, Cooper’s hawk were seen as well. The second Cooper’s cooperatively sat on a small tree on the edge of the oaks area and kept the sparrows hunkered down while we enjoyed great views.
Next stop was at American Lake. First we went to the Camp Murray Boat Launch site and relocated the Canvasbacks that I had seen yesterday, and soaked up the sunshine as it started to warm up. Over at Harry Todd Park we got nice comparison looks at Mew, California and Ring-billed gulls. Love it when nearly all the gulls are adults. No hoped for Boneparte’s flock to search through for Little gull, but more sunshine, waterfowl and gulls made it a nice quick stop.
Next we headed for Mount’s Road where a Greater Yellowlegs was the best find. My favorite stop of the day was the last one, as the sun really warmed everyone up and we sorted through a nice flock of Golden-crowned sparrows and located a White-throated sparrow. It was seen really well by everyone, and several photos were obtained. This one is by Kathleen Miller.
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We also had great looks at Fox Sparrow, some of these were even singing.
We ended the day about 1:20 PM. It was really fun to get out with a group of experienced birders on a day when the weather could not have been nicer.

EVENT! Sievert Rohwer at ABC on Dec 2, 2015!

Join ABC on Wednesday, December 2, 6:45 pm, featuring Sievert Rohwer, Curator and Professor Emeritus of the University of Washington Burke Museum present: “Molt and Avian Life Histories”

Lecture Location:Pierce County Administration Center & Library. 3005 112th St E, Tacoma, WA 98446, Just E of Waller Rd and S of H512.

Price: $10, payable at the door.

Another blockbuster guest speaker for ABC! Dr. Rohwer has won numerous awards for his studies and theories, and he is willing to share what he’s learned with us!

For Dr. Sievert Rohwer, birds have played a central role in developing and testing theories of life history evolution, particularly those involving tradeoffs between reproduction and survival. Yet studies of avian life histories have seldom considered the importance of molt and feather quality as drivers of avian life history evolution. Instead, the period of molt in the annual cycle is generally ignored or unstudied with respect to molt constraining avian reproduction and evolution. Consider the survival cost of feather replacement. Flight performance is impaired during molt, yet no one has ever measured the effect of molting on survival, even though a complete molt takes 1-2 months in a small warbler, and most large birds cannot replace all their flight feathers annually. His talk will focus on how we determine the rules of flight feather replacement and on how large birds can and cannot accommodate their need regularly to renew their flight feathers.

Another important take-home message of this talk is the value of modern collections of extended wings for exploring these ideas. Beginning in the mid 1980s, the Burke Museum pioneered the development of saving an extended wing from every new bird specimen added to its collections. For large birds that cannot be collected in numbers, extensive salvage programs have developed a uniquely valuable wing collection that has supported many discoveries about the rules of flight feather replacement and how these rules affect avian reproduction and life history evolution.

Brief Bio:

Ph.D. University of Kansas. 1971.

Curator of Birds and Professor of Biology, University of Washington 1972.

Dr. Rohwer studies evolutionary ecology and behavior, mostly of birds, with interests in avian coloration, adoption of unrelated offspring by replacement mates, avian hybrid zones, brood parasitism, phylogeography, and life history implications of feather renewal. “Under my curatorship the ornithology collections at the Burke Museum became internationally distinguished, with the largest collection of extended wings in the world and the second largest collection of avian tissues in the world.”

Honors:

2006. AOU Elliott Coues award recognizing “extraordinary contributions to ornithological research.”

2011. Cooper Society Katma Award for “formulation of new ideas that could change the course of thinking about avian biology.”

Please join us and invite other interested individuals. For questions, contact Kay Pullen at kaypullen@me.com.