Sunday, May 4, 2014

Birdathon 2014

Thanks to any and all Tahoma Audubon Society supporters who have are plan to contribute in support of my 2014 birdathon effort to raise funds for the educational and conservation efforts of TAS.  From 3:48 PM on Friday May 2 until missing our last chance at Chestnut-backed chickadee while sharing a Bud light at my kitchen table to stay out of the afternoon rain at 3:48 Saturday afternoon Ryan Weise and I chased species from Ocean Shores to Thurston and Pierce counties while getting our highest ever total of 127 species. 
Weather mostly cooperated until the last hour or so Saturday, and tides at the coast were helpful.  We started at the Oyhut Game Range at Ocean shores with Rufous hummingbird (hyperlinks are to Cornell Lab Bird Photos) our first species as we walked into the tideflats.  The best bird there was a single Long-billed curlew.  As the 9+ foot high tide receded we found the rock-loving shorebirds, Ruddy and Black turnstones and Surfbird at the back end of the jetty along with two early Heermann’s gulls. We were surprised at the numbers of Rhinoceros auclkets (120) and Common murres (20) off the jetty, and found the expected salt water birds. Driving the open beach for a couple of miles explained where the numbers of shorebirds were, as we found thousands, including huge numbers, maybe 1000+ Semipalmated plovers.  At Bowerman basin in Hoquiam we found the Great Horned Owlets still on the nest platform where they had made the local newspaper for the Gray’s Harbor Shorebird Festival the weekend prior. The Barn owl was at it’s expected silo on Wenzel Slough Rd as the Wilson’s snipe winnowed all around us.
After a brief sleep in our own beds we met and started the day at Niszually NWR where ducks, warblers, tanagers, and a calling American Bittern posed for digiscoped iPhone photos,

bringing our list to 102 for the trip by 8AM.  We forged ahead to get a House Wren at the Mountain View Cemetery marsh in Lakewood, added a few species at Ft. Steilacom Park, and headed for Titlow Beach.  The highlight there was 7 Marbled Murrelets in their brown “marbled” brown plumage swimming not too far off the beach.  Bushtits and a drumming Downy Woodpecker brought our list to near 120 and we knew we’d get one at a time from there on.  The rest of the day we chased “stake-out” birds, adding the American Dipper at the Carbon River bridge in Orting, American Kestrel on its usual wire on Hwy 162, and  Hutton’s vireo at the Spanaway Marsh. 
We knew we had near 125 species but trying to e-bird, keep a list, drive and bird had our record keeping a bit iffy.  After a good night sleep this morning I audited our e-bird lists, and we say 127 species for the  trip.  As it seems always the trip was as notable for the birds we missed as the ones we got.  No Brewer’s blackbird, Chestnut-backed chickadee, Turkey vulture, Evening grosbeak or Pine Siskin.  This makes us excited about future trips and ways to find even more.  Still a great trip. You can contribute at if you want to support TAS.  Good birding.

Ed Pullen