Thursday, March 1, 2012

Saturday, February 25, 2012 Theler Wetland and Hood Canal

Woke up and the power was out again. It was windy but not bad enough for that. Not knowing how long it could be out got us out of bed and on the road. Headed out about 9am over to Belfair to check out the Theler Wetland Trails. The weather was gray and cold--seems to be a theme this winter. We made the obligatory stop for gas and Starbucks and arrived about 10:30am at Theler Community Center. The nature trails are out the back, through a gate and down through a small wooded area. Still windy and cold which isn't the best weather for birding but it didn't rain. There is a nice interpretive center there--wasn't open--but it looks interesting. We went off on the Alder/Cedar swamp trail--a floating boardwalk--but didn't even see one bird. Then we connected with the 1 1/2 mile Union River Estuary Trail which basically is on top of the dike following the Union River which empties out into Hood Canal. Immediately we saw some mallards lazing around in some wetlands. Then I heard a red winged blackbird (#46) and found him in a scrub tree. In a pond to the right floated a solitary water bird--turned out to be a common goldeneye. Not a bad start. We wandered further and saw some Canadian geese in a farmers field, a northern harrier flying out in the tideland along with a bald eagle foraging in the mudflats. I saw some little birds jumping around in the brush along the trail, I could see some yellow on the head and wasn't sure exactly what they were. Turned out they were golden crowned sparrows (#47). They didn't seem too scared of the people on the trail so I was able to get some nice video of them. Travelin' on down it changes to boardwalk areas that follow the bends in the small river. Saw some very nice common merganser's (#48) along the waters edge. The females had some doos on them--especially when the wind blew through them and their bright orange pointy bills and brilliant red feet made them really fun to watch. A belted king fisher came swooping down the river at breakneck speed. All we really saw was a blue blur streaking by. I had no idea they could fly so fast. We went to the end of the walk but didn't see much else. The sun came out but the wind picked up. On the way back there were a couple of killdeer along the shore and we did see a great blue heron on the fresh water side. We took the south tidal marsh trail that goes out to Hood Canal, but it was so windy there was nothing out there. This will be a great area to come back to later in the season. It was nicely laid out and some good variance in ecosystems.

Hunger was setting in so when we got back to the car, about 2pm, we headed back into Belfair and found a Mexican Restaurant called El Sombrero and had a very pleasant lunch. Another Starbucks stop and we headed down Highway 3 and then followed Hood Canal down to Twanoh State Park. Along the way we saw some more common mergansers and at the park a group of surf scoters. Out in the canal I videoed what looks like Clark's grebes (#49). These are pretty rare and there aren't any other sightings so far on the web but we saw what we saw. We also saw a nice group of Barrow's goldeneyes (#50). We continued down the Canal and saw a group of greater scaups (#51). We headed down to Shelton and then back east and back across the Narrows. Got home about 7pm with 6 new birds to the list. It was a nice day.

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