While presenting a shorebird identification program to the Grays Harbor Audubon Society last weekend, I learned that there are plans for railroad oil tankers to offload crude oil into ships in the Port of Grays Harbor. All of this oil transfer would take place right next to the Grays Harbor National Wildlife Refuge. During spring migration it's estimated that 50% of the 17,000 remaining roselaari subspecies of Red Knot use Grays Harbor. The Red Knots used to concentrate across the harbor on Bottle Beach, but now use an area near Grass Creek which is closer to the Port transfer site. Grays Harbor has been described by the American Bird Conservancy as the most important staging and stopover spot for shorebirds on the Pacific Coast outside of Alaska. 50% of the remaining 3,500,000 Western Sandpipers also use Grays Harbor during migration. The Western Sandpiper population has already declined by 50% or more, in 1973 there was an estimated count of 6,500,000 just on the Cooper River Delta alone. Over one million birds use the harbor as a critical feeding spot. Even a slight degradation on the food supply could make migration more difficult or reduce body fat so the birds can't survive the first few days or weeks on the tundra. For more information visit Friends of Grays Harbor or Grays Harbor Audubon Society.
Photographic Big Year Update It's been pointed out to me that really I'm doing a photographic big year, so I think I'll just call it that. This posting will put me at 95 birds this year. A far cry from where I thought I would be at this point. So, this week I'm going to go try to re-focus. The attached nine birds were seen around Grays Harbor last week.
There was only one Red Knot in the group of shorebirds I was close to on this day.
Some days the fog never burns off, but when a Greater Yellowlegs walks by as it's fishing, it's still a great day!
Same day on the way home, I stopped at Brady Loop Road and was able to get a few images of this Osprey with nesting materail in its talons.
Peregrines eat carrion and cough up pellets! Until this weekend I thought of Peregrines as these fast, powerful and deadly hunters of the sky. Well they are all that and more. Monday I watched as a peregrine banded WZ cough up two pellets, and Tuesday and Wednesday I watch peregrine K6 feed on the remains of a washed up Great Blue Heron.
In this image you can actually see the bulging crop of K6, while it stands on the Great Blue Heron remains.
The falcons I photographed were banded, and are part of the research of Coastal Raptors a non-profit group doing research, education and conservation on Washington State's coastal raptor population. The organization is run by Dan Varland, and their website is: http://www.coastalraptors.org.
Another view of WZ, which is also the peregrine featured in the Coastal Raptors logo.
Peregrine Falcon, Bald Eagle and Norther Shoveler brings my total photographed bird species to 79 so far this year. While my goal of 500 is starting to seem a little overly ambitious, in reality I'm reaching my goal of learning more about birds and getting out more to photograph them.