Thursday, 2 August 2012

Washington State update part 2

I've been heading south at quite some speed the last couple of days - currently writing this from the Central Oregon coast. But plenty of birds and dramatic scenery still in abundance. Anyway, I'll finish off Washington as I had a bloody good time there.
And so I started last Friday heading up Hurricane Ridge in the Olympic National Park. A Varied Thrush shot across the car, leaving me slightly under-rawed at seeing one of my targets. Olive-sided Flycatcher, Orange-crowned Warbler, lots of Chestnut-backed Chickadees and Oregon Juncos were a feature of the early morning drive up. And then I found this beast chilling out by the roadside in the early morning sunshine...marvellous, a nice Sooty Grouse.

Sooty Grouse Hurricane Ridge, WA
Further highlights on the mountain side included some showy Buff-bellied Pipits - remarkably my first in the US - as well as Band-tailed Pigeon, several Red-breasted Nuthatches and my first Townsend's Warbler. Not bad for a couple of hours, but the sea was beckoning me again.
Buff-bellied Pipit Hurricane Ridge, WA
Back down in Port Angeles, I enjoyed nice views of a showy White-crowned Sparrow and some close study of Glaucous-winged and 'Olympic' Gulls - interestingly, no pure Western Gulls in this neck of the woods. The nearby spit at Ediz Hook was good value with 21 Harlequins, Black Oystercatcher, Pigeon Guillemots and Rhino Auklets with two close Marbled Murrelets thrown in for good measure. Plus a load of close gulls that I got amongst.
White-crowned Sparrow Port Angeles, WA

Harlequin Ediz Hook, WA
I headed back round the coast, stopping off at Dungeness Bay of all places where a haul that included Glaucous-winged Gull, Belted Kingfisher, Great Blue Heron, Song and White-crowned Sparrows wouldn't have been too bad for Kent. Last stop before heading back to Seattle was Sequim Bay, where half a dozen Mew Gulls were lingering in amongst the larger numbers of Ring-billed Gulls.
Glaucous-winged Gull Seattle, WA
Next day I walked around Seattle, not seeing much in the way of birds apart from a load of the bad boys above. Sunday, however, was meant to be the day where I would see Killer Whales but it was not to be unfortunately. Our boat trip out of Anacortes did produce a showy Minke Whale as well as good views of stuff like Rhino Auklets and Pigeon Guillemots.
Minke Whale off Lopez Island, WA

Pigeon Guillemot Anacortes, WA
Heading south from Seattle on Monday, just a couple of hours away was Mount Rainier. A thoroughly impressive place for a Geography teacher with loads of tectonic and glacial stuff, and the high altitude birding was good too. Good views of a Varied Thrush feeding on a subalpine meadow, Clark's Nutcrackers coming to picnic tables plus loads of Yellow-rumped Warblers, Cassin's Finches, Pine Siskins and Crossbills too.
Clark's Nutcracker Mount Rainier, WA

Varied Thrush Mount Rainier, WA
So there you have it, well almost, for Washington. A quick couple of hours on Tuesday morning at Ridgefield NWR (an important wintering site for Dusky Canada Goose by the way) was productive with American Bittern, Wood Duck, White Pelican, Bushtit and Wilson's Warbler all added to the trip list here. And then it was down to Oregon. More later, as it's just gone one in the morning here.

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