The Sheldon Jackson College Environmental Science program organized a trip to Point Brown on Kruzof Island as a chance to have a fun outing at the end of the year. The trip was planned to take advantage of a very low tide. While most folks headed south from our drop off point to explore the intertidal habitats (and creatures) that are different from those found in town, I went around the corner to the north with a few others to checkout the large tide flats in Port Krestof. The others stayed along trees, but I walked the flats looking for birds.
Weather for the day was typical spring, rain, snow, hail, very brief sunny breaks, and a fair amount wind associated with the showers.
At low tide, the shoreline of Port Krestof is about 3/4 of a mile across. The flats extend out a little over 1/2 of a mile from the head of the bay (at high tide). There are at least 3 different streams that flow into the bay and the beach consists of lots of small gravel, sand, and mud. I have been in Port Krestof at least a couple of times in the past, but probably not for close to 15-20 years.
When I made it to the south end of the flats, I could hear birds in the distance, but I did not see any too close. I saw some ducks take off from the southern creek a little up stream, so I went up to check them out. As best I could tell, they were mostly Green-winged Teal, but without strong binoculars or a spotting scope, most of the time, most of them took off before I was even able to see them.
I went back to the shoreline and walked north, a distant flock of brants flew to a different location on the flats. I continued on and noticed a pair of Semipalmated plovers running around near me. Out in the bay I saw three Red-necked Grebes. I also saw what I think was a small raptor flying over, but I’m not familiar enough with them to be sure what it was.
Near a large (highwater island) rock outcrop, I started seeing more shorebirds. There were a few Black-bellied Plovers, some Western Sandpipers and Dunlin. It was the north side of the rock outcrop where many of the birds seemed to be. In this area I saw at least a dozen Black-bellied Plovers (probably more), at least 6 Marbled Godwits, dozens of Dowitchers, lots of Western Sandpipers, lots of Dunlin, at least a couple of Least Sandpipers, a dozen or so Semipalmated Plovers, Surfbirds, Black Turnstones, a few Yellowlegs (not sure about Greater or Lesser), a few gulls, Bufflehead, Barrow’s Goldeneye, American Wigeons, Northern Pintails, Mallards, Bald Eagles, a Pelagic Cormorant, at least two pair of Red-breasted Mergansers, and Common Mergansers.
Further up the beach away from the shoreline, there were many more birds, most of which I have already mentioned, but there were also about 100 Brant with a single Greater White-fronted Goose, about a dozen Canadian Geese with at least one Cackling Goose, one Pacific Golden-plover, and a Whimbrel (new for me). There were probably other birds (species) that I saw, but the combination of relatively low magnification power available, the tendency of ducks to take flight before I even saw them, my inexperience with unusual birds, and brain overload may have all contributed to me not being able to mention them now.
Back at the beach where we were to be picked up, there were 4 Pacific Loons patrolling off-shore. Kitty LaBounty told me she saw a Townsend’s Warbler in the trees along the edge of the beach, so we walked down to look for it and we saw it briefly as it flew along the edge of the forest.
Birds I saw for the Day (number observed)
37 species, probably well over 1000 birds
Pacific Golden Plover (1)
Semipalmated Plover (>10)
Black-bellied Plover (>20)
Western Sandpiper (>100, probably lots more, I could hardly begin to count them)
Dunlin (>50, lots of them, but not as abundant as Western Sandpipers)
Least Sandpiper (>5)
Marbled Godwits (~10)
Black Turnstones (>10)
Greater or Lesser Yellowlegs (>10, difficult to tell as they flew around a lot)
American Wigeons (hard to say, probably more than 50)
Green-winged Teal (hard to say, probably more than 50)
Mallards (hard to say, probably more than 20)
Northern Shoveler (2, one pair)
Red-breasted Mergansers (at least 4, two-pair)
Common Mergansers (at least 2, didn’t pay too much attention)
Barrow’s Goldeneye (>10, didn’t pay too much attention)
Bufflehead (>10, didn’t pay too much attention)
Greater White-fronted Goose (1, with Brants)
Cackling Goose (at least 1, with Canada Geese)
Canada Goose (at least 12, I think there were more that flew out of the area shortly after I arrived)
Red-necked Grebes (>3)
Pacific Loons (at least 4, not in Port Krestof)
Bald Eagle (at least 3)
Small Raptor (1, probable)
Mew Gull (at least 2, didn’t pay much attention)
Glaucous-winged Gull (at least 10, didn’t pay much attention)
Total Gulls (>20, didn’t pay much attention)
Northwestern Crow (at least 1, didn’t pay much attention)
Common Raven (at least 2, didn’t pay much attention)
Red Crossbills (probable, at least 3, flying overhead between patches of forest)
Winter Wren (more than 1, heard in woods)
Townsend’s Warbler (1, first of season; not in Port Krestof)
Varied Thrush (heard in woods)
Golden-crowned Kinglet (heard in woods)
In addition on the way to and from the boat I saw or heard 6 additional species for a total of at least 43 for the day.
Northern Flickers (2, near Crescent Harbor Parking Lot on way to boat)