Bird Sightings -- Late Spring, 2006
By Bob Boekelheide
It has been a very busy two months for birding. Unfortunately, there’s neither time nor space to give details for all reports I’ve received, but here are the sightings of note.
First, almost simultaneously in late May I received two reports about rare orioles in our area. Al and Kelly Watkins spotted a Hooded Oriole visiting their feeder in an apple tree in their Port Angeles backyard on 5/23. Fortunately, this bird, a striking female, stuck around for a couple days and permitted excellent photos for documentation.
Second, Jim White recorded a Baltimore Oriole in his backyard near the Sequim airport on 5/24. Unfortunately, the bird didn’t stay more than a few hours and did not get photographed, but Jim reports it was a beautiful male in full breeding plumage and guarantees that is was not a more likely Black-headed Grosbeak or Spotted Towhee, both of which he knows very well. This would make the first Baltimore Oriole for Clallam County.
Of interest, it has been an excellent spring for vagrant orioles throughout western Washington. At least two other Hooded Orioles and one other Baltimore Oriole showed up in Puget Sound during May and June, many more than usual.
Gene Kridler, while looking out the back window of his home near Carrie Blake Park in Sequim, spotted an Eastern Kingbird sitting along the back fence on 6/5. The closest to here that Eastern Kingbirds regularly nest is eastern Washington, but every few years one overshoots on migration and shows up in Clallam County.
A Blue Jay was present in Diamond Point on 5/17, seen by John and Brenda Haworth. They say it was clearly an eastern-type Blue Jay, with lots of white below and white spots on its back. Janet LaMont reported a Western Scrub Jay at Black Diamond Road in Port Angeles in late April, a species which is reported more and more in our area.
Two Yellow-headed Blackbirds were sighted near Helen’s Pond at 3 Crabs this spring. A fairly drab female was present on 5/4, seen by Bob Boekelheide. Gary Lange reported an immature male present on 6/10.
It has been a very lean year for nearly all finches except American Goldfinches, which have been very numerous. Evening Grosbeaks, which were relatively common through April, have now virtually disappeared, and Pine Siskins continue to be uncommon. Rose Forbes provides the only report of Red Crossbills, with one eating safflower seeds at her home in Dungeness on 6/21.
Judy Mullally reported 2 Chipping Sparrows on the east side of Port Angeles on 5/26 and one on 5/10. We would sure like to know if and where Chipping Sparrows nest around here.
During the Wed. morning Birdwalk at RR Bridge Park on 5/31, Margaret Levitan spotted three large birds flying in formation high in the sky. Upon closer inspection, we discovered that they were White Pelicans, a very unusual species in our area. Brown Pelicans also showed in our area – I received a mystery phone message from a “Sharon” about 2 Brown Pelicans in Discovery Bay on 6/5. Who might Sharon be?
Barb Blackie, biologist for the Olympic Coast Nat’l Marine Sanctuary, is conducting shipboard surveys off the coast of La Push this spring and summer. Among other wonderful birds, she recorded a Parakeet Auklet on 5/16, a species that should be in Alaska right now and perhaps the first sighting ever for Clallam County.
Pam Bedford reported a Green Heron at Lake Pleasant on 6/13, making us wonder whether this small heron nests in the area. Pam says the bird was very curious, following their kayak around the lake.
Kathy Bush observed a beautiful Golden Eagle flying over the Miller Peninsula on 5/21, an unusual late spring sighting for a Golden in the lowlands.
Lastly, Caspian Terns are exceedingly numerous on Dungeness Spit and other areas of our coast right now. Kirsten Bixler, tern researcher for the US Fish and Wildlife Service, counted a high of 788 on Dungeness Spit in early June. She also once again found Arctic Terns nesting there, first seen on 4/30 and 4 birds in 2 pairs in mid-May.
Thank you for your sightings! If you see or hear anything unusual, please call Bob Boekelheide at 681-4076 (email at firstname.lastname@example.org) or Bob Norton at 928-3053 (email at email@example.com). Thank you for your sightings!
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