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WHAS - Bird Lists and Wildlife Sightings

Please send information about wildlife sightings to our Wildlife Sightings Chair.

To see some recent Washington State bird sightings go to the Tweeters list. To subscribe to Washington State Tweeters or to get more info about Tweeters visit WA Tweeters.

Sandhill Crane (WDFW Image)

 

2020 Cowlitz County Bird List - February Update

Siberian Accentor
Siberian Accentor

By Russ Koppendrayer

WOW! On February 6th 2020 the first ever MEGA-rarity for Cowlitz County was discovered around a small weedy field in the Woodland Bottoms. This Siberian Accentor breeds in the region it's named for and typically winters in Korea and eastern China. It possibly got to Alaska last fall either by poor navigation or blown by winds, and continued its migration south on the wrong continent until it liked the looks of the little patch in our county, where this tiny five and a half inch bird was seen as recently as 2/29/2020. While this is the third record for Washington State, I believe it to be only the fifth for the lower 48, with Idaho and Montana having one each. There is one record in British Columbia that I'm aware of and 20 or so in Alaska. The vast majority of the Alaskan records are from islands in the Bering Sea during fall migration however.

Within a couple hours of its discovery the Siberian Accentor had been publicized on Birder list serves in both Washington and Oregon as well as a national Rare Bird Alert Facebook page, all with directions to its west end of Stenerson road location as well as the attached photo on the Facebook page. So thus the Accentor Chase Mania began. By Thursday afternoon of the day it was found there were about 25 avid birders there hoping for a glimpse of this rarity. The crowds would swell to many times that Friday through Sunday before slowly thinning out as time passed. Throughout its stay it has been a test of patience for many as the Siberian Accentor can disappear into vegetation for hours at a time before popping up for a few minutes. It does seem to be punctual about 10-15 minutes before official sunrise to stop in the top of a small apple tree by the last driveway on the north side of the road. It is there for anywhere from two to seven minutes. 

Hoping to add this Asian rarity to their life list or big year list or just curious because it's so rare has brought people from around the country to this little dead end road near Woodland. I wish there had been a way to do some kind of head count along with home bases for all these visitors. Left to my own devices I've counted all the posts to eBird (a Cornell University site to share your findings) and found over 450 individual posts and growing. Being aware that some have seen the bird and posted more than once I believe there have been about 425 individuals that have posted. Since it is my estimation that less than half the visitors post to this web site, I believe that we are approaching 1000 birders that have seen this bird, if we haven't already surpassed that figure. This includes visitors from at least 22 states I've been able to document including Hawaii and numerous Atlantic seaboard state.  

Also in February a Black-legged Kittiwake was seen from Gearhart Gardens dining on the smelt run. This was the second ever record for Cowlitz County.

Download the pdf here.

Scopes
Scopes in Woodland

 

2019 Cowlitz County Bird List - Final

Mountain Chickadee - Image courtesy of Peter Wallack
Mountain Chickadee - Image courtesy of Peter Wallack

By Russ Koppendrayer

We wrapped up an exciting year of birding by adding three species to our year list in the last two months. White-winged Scoter, Wild Turkey, and Mountain Chickadee are all code 4 species, meaning there are at least five previous records in Cowlitz County, but they appear less than annually. This brought our year total to 206, bested only by our 2015 record of 207. 

Cassin's Auklet and Lark Sparrow were species seen in the county for the first time and documented on eBird. This brings the number of species documented in Cowlitz to 280. In addition eight code 5 (1-4 previous records) species were recorded, with the most exciting being the Eastern Kingbird pair that were also documented fledging two chicks.

Our big miss was Western Sandpiper which went unrecorded in spite of being an annual visitor.

Download the pdf here.

2020 Cowlitz County Bird List - January Update

Redheads - Image courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer
Redheads - Image courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer

By Russ Koppendrayer

As usual we got the year off to a fast start with the Christmas Bird Count on New Year's Day. No real rarities were found  in January, but we did find three less than annual species that we missed in 2019.

Two male Redheads were at the former Longview Sewage Ponds. Three California Quail were reported from the Woodland Bottoms. This species was formerly more common there, but habitat fragmentation and spring floods in their nesting area have combined to drive their numbers to nearly nothing and making sightings quite rare. Also a Pacific Loon was in the Columbia River near the Kalama Marina. Here's to a fine year of birding in 2020 for all of you.

Download the pdf here.

Redheads - Image courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer
Pacific Loon - Image courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer

 

2019 Cowlitz County Bird List - October Update

Ferruginous Hawk - Image courtesy of Terry Anderson
Ferruginous Hawk - Image courtesy of Terry Anderson

By Russ Koppendrayer

During the last couple months Cowlitz County was graced with the presence of some species rarely seen here.

The county's third record of Red-necked Phalarope was found at the former Longview Sewage Ponds and remained for at least four days. Our second record of Heermann's Gull was on a sandbar near the mouth of the Kalama River, but flew off shortly after being photographed by the initial observer.

While each of these was a fun find, the star of the period was a Ferruginous Hawk that was regularly seen by numerous people in the Woodland Bottoms during its stay of over two weeks. Not only was this the first ever record of Ferruginous Hawk in Cowlitz County, but this denizen of remote spots of the arid west during summer has only made a handful of appearances in western Washington. Most of those were just fly overs such that this bird was only the second to be photographed in the wetter side of the state.

Download the pdf here.

 

Ferruginous Hawk - Image courtesy of Terry Anderson
Ferruginous Hawk - Image courtesy of Terry Anderson

2019 Cowlitz County Bird List - August Update

Eastern Kingbird babies waiting to be fed - Image (digiscoped) courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer
Eastern Kingbird babies waiting to be fed - Image (digiscoped) courtesy of Russ Koppendrayer

By Russ Koppendrayer

In the last two months we have only added three species to our Cowlitz list. Semipalmated and Baird's Sandpipers were both seen in August as is frequently the case. For whatever reason these two species fit with some other shorebird species that migrate north through the middle of the continent in spring, but a few are found going through Washington in the fall. Also found was a Yellow-headed Blackbird which are not seen every year in the county, but seem to pop up at any time of year when they do appear.
 
Our big thrill for the time period was confirming breeding of the Eastern Kingbird pair first found at the Toutle Sediment Retention Dam on June 18. Further monitoring of these birds led us to suspect nesting, but this was confirmed on August 2 when two recently fledged chicks were observed being fed by two adults. This third ever record of Eastern Kingbird in Cowlitz County resulted in the first ever record of breeding here.

Download the pdf here.

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