Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Trip Bird Report: Day 6 through 10

After sleeping in Thursday morning we, my sister and her husband and ten month old as well as my wife and I, piled into a rented Camry and drove to Port Angeles in northwest Washington. We had wonderful days on the Strait and in Olympic NP overall. The first night in Port Angeles I saw Pigeon Guillemot, Glaucous Gulls, and Pelagic Cormorants at the City Pier. We would see these birds every day while up there, but the first time seeing any bird is exciting.

On Friday we drove to Neah Bay to hike Cape Flattery, which is the most northwest corner of the continental US. On the drive west and at the Cape we saw a sea otter, sea lions, seals, but no whales on the Strait of San Juan de Fuca. In addition to the scenic sea stacks and Tatoosh Island at Cape Flattery I saw life birds Brandt's Cormorants, Northwestern Crows, Black Oystercatchers, Common Murre, Marbled Murrelet, and Rhinoceros Auklet. While all of the life birds were great to watch, perhaps the most entertaining were the five Peregrine Falcons and their Pigeon Guillemot meal.

Friday night Christine and I drove down Ediz Hook, a man made sand spit with lighthouse and Coast Guard station in Port Angeles. We saw Harlequin Ducks in addition to more Brandt's Cormorants, Black Oystercatchers, Pelagic Cormorants, and Pigeon Guillemot.

On Saturday we visited the farmer's market in Port Angeles and hiked Hurricane Hill Trail on Hurricane Ridge. Marmots, Black-tailed Deer, and a very patient Mountain Goat graced our hike in addition to Vaux's Swifts, Ravens, Chestnut-backed Chickadees, and 'Oregon' Dark-Eyed Juncos. Sunday we visited Hoh Rain Forest, with singing Winter Wrens we hiked among the moss covered trees and ferns.

Monday we checked out of the rental house and walked a bit on the Spit in Dungeness NWR. The overcast weather and wind, as well as season, did not yield the large potential of birds that can be found on the spit. None the less I still added Western Sandpiper, Western Gull, and Pacific Loon to my life list. After the hike I talked with a refuge employee and I would have never imagined the potential for winter birding on the Spit, the Brandt supposedly left in April.

Along the drive back and forth from Port Angeles and Oregon City I identified a Great Egret and a group of Brandt along the sound. Both would have been outside of the norms for the region and I did not ask the car to stop to satisfy my birding curiosity and verify the 60 mph identification.

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