Brandt's Cormorant - Image courtesy of wikimedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

The end of April finds us in the heart of spring migration with new species arriving every day. With a Willapa Hills Audubon field trip and two Washington Ornithological Society field trips in Cowlitz County during the last week of the month as well as the ever increasing number of individuals out birding we seemed to be finding new species as soon as the first few individuals arrived. Very nice to see a more complete documentation of our county's avifauna, especially on eBird.

The only real rarity of the month was a Brandt's Cormorant seen at the mouth of Mill Creek one afternoon. This second ever record for Cowlitz County was not to be seen again in spite of some diligent searching. Brandt's Cormorants have always been strongly associated with salt water and are unusual in the Columbia River even in the Astoria area. In early April one was spotted near Skamokawa for the very first Wahkiakum County record. Amazingly, many more were seen in the area including groups numbering into the teens and farther upstream to Cathlamet. Both breeding plumage adults and year old birds are being seen. No reason for this phenomenon has been discovered, but as of this writing they are still being seen and additional Cowlitz sightings would not be unreasonable.    

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