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Thursday, May 5, 2011

Spring at Nisqually NWR

Yesterday on my way back north to San Juan Island I made another stop at Nisqually National Wildlife Refuge near Olympia, Washington. Unlike on my drive south, the weather was beautiful, so it made this visit a little more pleasant. Somewhat surprisingly, there weren't nearly as many swallows around as in the pouring rain. I did see barn, tree, and violet-green swallows as well as a decent-sized flock of Vaux's swifts. The most abundant swallow yesterday was, however, the cliff swallow. The cliff swallows were hard at work collecting mud....

Building nests....

And then presumably incubating eggs as they peeked out from finished nests....

The marsh was pretty active, with gadwall, mallards, wigeon, a single coot, and lots of northern shoveler in addition to singing marsh wrens and common yellowthroats. On a mud spit there were several species of shorebirds, including about a dozen dowitchers, a few dunlin, and about 50 peeps that were too far away to be identified. I also heard a single sora calling. Northern shoveler were the most numerous of the lot and the only duck I got close enough to photograph:

Prints of this photo available here

Despite the "no jogging" signs, since it's a wildlife refuge, this child was running around chasing birds. I wasn't thrilled about that, but it result in kind of a neat looking photograph:

One of the marsh wrens was singing out in the open, too, allowing for a photo op:

Since the weather was nice I decided to walk further than last time, including out on the estuary boardwalk that extends will out into the tidelands. It's a neat walk:

There wasn't a whole lot of bird activity out there, however. On the way back to the car I did see a single lesser yellowlegs (168). The total for the afternoon was 37 species at the refuge.

At the Anacortes ferry landing I had a little bit of time to bird watch before getting on the ferry. The highlight there was two purple martins (169) checking out the nesting boxes on the old dock pilings. Usually this is a pretty active nesting colony so I hope some more birds show up there soon. Then, in Rosario Strait on the ferry, I saw a flock of approximately 750 Bonaparte's gulls - always a cool find!


eileeninmd said...

Monika, it looks like a great place for birding. I love the swallows, and they look cute in their nest.

Lancashire and Lakeland Outback Adventure Wildlife Safaris said...

Thats one helluva boardwalk!!!!

Good pics I like your giant wren!