Samish-Skagit Field Trip (Jan. 7, 2015) Highlights
Eastside Audubon took a trip led by Brian Bell to the Samish and Skagit Flats last Wednesday. The day started out overcast, but by the time we got to the Everett area it was clear with a beautiful sunrise. Further north as we came down into the Skagit Valley we were under overcast again and stopped at the Conway exit to scope out swans in the field to the east of I-5.
We saw good numbers of TRUMPETER SWANs with a couple of TUNDRA SWANs for comparison. Some Rock Pigeons on the lights as we got back on the freeway.
By the time we pulled off on Chuckanut Drive it was foggy – there was a RED-TAILED HAWK on a power line, but then it got really foggy. Some ducks on a flooded field, but couldn’t i.d. them thru the haze. We finally went back to Chuckanut and just drove up to Bow – couldn’t see anything. But we continued up Chuckanut and in the flooded fields managed to see AMERICAN WIGEON, EURASIAN WIGEON, MALLARD, NORTHERN PINTAIL, NORTHEN SHOVELER, GREEN-WINGED TEAL.
We went west to Edison and had GREEN-WINGED TEAL in the slough behind the Bread Farm bakery and a couple of COMMON RAVENs flew over. Around the corner on the way to the West 90 we had several SAVANNAH SPARROWs in a bush by the road. The fog was giving indications of burning off, but we drove straight toward Samish Island figuring the added height would get us out of the fog. Just north of the West 90 we broke out and stopped to scan several raptors. An adult BALD EAGLE was on the power pole right by the side of the road. Two Rough-legged Hawks were way out in the field to the west. Just beyond the dike we could see BLACK-BELLIED PLOVERs perched on the tops of the pilings – an unusual place for them.
Next we went up to Wharf Road and scanned Samish Bay. We saw BUFFLEHEAD, COMMON GOLDENEYE, BRANT, SURF SCOTER, RED-BREASTED MERGANSER, great looks at LONG-TAILED DUCK, DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT, BRANDT’S CORMORANT, and PELAGIC CORMORANT, COMMON LOON. GREAT BLUE HERON were resting in the conifers behind us. Back down to the West 90 – lots of NORTHERN HARRIER and a distant ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK and BALD EAGLE, but not much else.
The dense fog was still hanging in to the east, so we went down to the Padilla Bay/Breazeale Interpretive Center for a lunch stop. It was surprising that there was a lack of birds out on Padilla Bay – one BUFFLEHEAD at Bayview State Park.
Our next stop was at the feeders on Valentine Rd. – good activity with MOURNING DOVE, ANNA’S HUMMINGBIRD, DOWNY WOODPECKER, NORTHERN FLICKER, BLACK-CAPPED and CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEEs, BUSHTIT, RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, AMERICAN ROBIN, SPOTTED TOWHEE, FOX SPARROW, SONG SPARROW, GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, DARK-EYED JUNCO, HOUSE FINCH, PINE SISKIN, AMERICAN GOLDFINCH and HOUSE SPARROW.
Fir Island was surprisingly lacking in birds – a couple of NORTHERN HARRIER, a BALD EAGLE, and as we started to leave we could see large numbers of SNOW GEESE coming in off the Bay. We went down to Stanwood and Eide Road. As we pulled onto Eide, we could see about 25 cars parked down at the end – obviously lots of folks looking for owls. We parked, got out and had a SHORT-EARED OWL fly past about 50 feet away – great looks. One of the LONG-EARED OWLs was perched in the scrubby thicket it has been hanging out in right by the parking lot. We had to move around a bit and peer thru the branches, but got recognizable looks at it. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK (dark morph) was perched in a nearby tree. One of our group spotted a GREAT EGRET in the fields and most of us got a look at it.
We stopped by the Stanwood Treatment Ponds and picked up AMERICAN COOT, RUDDY DUCK, GREATER SCAUP. Then down to Bow Rd. where we saw AMERICAN KESTREL, KILLDEER, 25 GREATER YELLOWLEGs.
At various places along the way we saw WOOD DUCK, PIED-BILLED GREBE, MERLIN, PEREGRINE FALCON, DUNLIN, MEW, RING-BILLED and GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULLs, EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, AMERICAN CROW, EUROPEAN STARLING, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, BREWER’S BLACKBIRD.
It was a good day with good friends, and in spite of the fog we managed to see 70 species.