||1818 images of 69 different species (31 new species)
||February 4-9 2006
||Skagit Flats, Point Roberts, Mount Baker, Post Point Marine Park, Deception Pass, Oak Harbor, South Whidbey State Park Washington State
||Boundary Bay, Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary, Vancouver, BC Canada
|bold = New Species = Good quality photos
Trip Report written by Bob H.
Nick K. (New Jersey) and I (Bob H.) birded the northwestern part of Washington, north of Seattle, for six days (2/4/06 - 2/9/06), recording 110 different bird species. The weather was excellent, ranging from the 30s to near 50 degrees, with progressively more sun each day.
We had a rough landing in SeaTac Airport south of Seattle, amid 30-40 mph winds. We reached the Skagit Flats about 60 miles to the north by early afternoon. In overcast but clearing weather we found
Bald Eagles virtually everywhere we looked. We also saw Peregrine Falcons hunting, along with Red-tails and Rough-legs. Other interesting birds were Thayer's Gull and
Golden-crowned Sparrow. Further north we checked into our motel in Bellingham where we would stay for five nights.
We crossed into Canada to bird the Boundary Bay area. First stop was Point Roberts, at the tip of a
peninsula that is actually part of the U.S. The only way to get there by land is via British Columbia, Canada. We saw Brandt's Cormorant,
Pelagic Cormorant, Pigeon Guillemot,
Black Oyster Catcher, Western Gull, and other 'normal' water birds. Moved back into Canada to the Delta area of Boundary Bay and found seven
Snowy Owls in one 180-degree sweep, plus many more Bald Eagles (including a pair mating) and other raptors. Locals told us there were actually 14 Snowy Owls in the neighborhood. Also saw a
Northern Shrike and two Short-eared Owls. Moved on to the area next to the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary for
Barn Owl and a perched immature
Golden Eagle at close range.
Day 3 We traveled up Mount Baker (10,778 feet) where a world record 95 feet of snow fell during the winter of 1998-1999. Found a flock of 25
Common Ravens at the ski lodge, plus two Grey Jays. Birds were hard to find as we worked our way down the mountain. One highlight was a flock of
Varied Thrushes. We later discovered that they usually travel in groups;find one and others appear shortly.
Further down we came across a noisy flock of
Steller's Jays and then a large flock of
Evening Grosbeaks. We saw the first 30-40 grosbeaks high up in a leafless deciduous tree and then discovered another 60 or so working a feeder nearby.
We checked all fast flowing streams on the way down the mountain for American Dipper, without any luck. Then only a few miles from Bellingham, late in the day, we were chasing a mixed flock of kinglets and creepers at the south end of Lake Whatcom when Nick found two
American Dippers by the stream flowing into the lake. We finished the day at Post Point Marine Park in Bellingham where we found
Barrow's Goldeneye on edge of the bay.
Day 4 We headed back into Canada again, visiting the jetty out to the Tsawwassen ferry north of Point Roberts where we saw more
Black Oyster Catchers,
Glaucous-winged Gull X Western Gull (hybrid),
Mew Gull and Snow Bunting. Then spent some time on the Reifel Migratory Bird Sanctuary for
Northern Saw-whet Owl,
Sandhill Crane (6),
Brewers Blackbird and
Eurasian Wigeon. As on Day 2, there were lots of Bald Eagles around, many of them obviously mated pairs perched together. Later we drove through downtown Vancouver (site of the 2010 winter Olympics) to get to Stanley Park. Here we found the elusive
Chestnut-backed Chickadee in a mixed flock with Black-capped Chickadees and Kinglets. Also found many Barrow's Goldeneye on the bay.
Day 5 Went to Deception Pass on the north end of Whidbey Island in the morning. Found
Least Sandpiper, but not much else new. In the afternoon, Nick's friend Willy (10 year Seattle resident and British transplant via NJ) joined us for raptor hunting on the Samish and Skagit flats.
We found the Harlan's Red-tail Hawk (blackish with some white breast streaking) at the precise location provided by Don Bryant from his trip here in 2005. Apparently this bird is a long-term resident. Also found several 'intermediate adult' Red-tails with blackish bellies and 'Red-shoulder like' crimson on the breast. We also had a dark phase Red-tail, nearly all black with a characteristic red tail. Other Red-tails were the classic western variety, similar to the eastern version but with buffier belly and chest. We also had several
both light phase and dark phase, along with Peregrine Falcons, American Kestrels and many
Gyr Falcons were reported in the area but the best we could do was a brief over the shoulder glance at a large powerful looking falcon flying low across one of the fields.
In addition to the raptors already noted were many Bald Eagles both perched and soaring. The highlight of raptor watching is nature in action;
an adult Bald Eagle took an American Wigeon in flight.
Willy was the only one who actually saw the kill but Nick and I got great views of the proud bird doing a victory lap with its dinner.
Day 6 We crossed the bridge on to Whidbey Island and headed south to Oak Harbor, picking up the
Black Turnstone and
Further south we found
and a lone Cooper's Hawk. Since we had time, we decided to take a ferry from Keystone across to Port Townsend to check for seabirds. On this 30-minute ride out we found
Marbled Murrelet and Ancient Murrelet.
We turned around and came right back, seeing more of the same. Our final stop of the trip was South Whidbey State Park where we spent several hours in forest habitat searching for very elusive woodpeckers. While we found a number of trees frequented by woodpeckers (obvious by the drillings) we could not add to our meager list of Downy Woodpecker and Northern Flicker (Red-shafted). We then took the short ferry ride from Clinton to Mukilteo and on to Seattle for our early morning return flight.
Here is a complete list of our sightings: