Notes from the Field (Spring 2015):

Date: May 22, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Dale Larson, Dave and Nancy Pearson.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
4 adults,
1 immature
2 immatures


Three people standing by vehicle on the beach
Joining Dale Larson and me on today's survey from Arizona were Dale's good friends Dave and Nancy Pearson. Dave is a research professor and lecturer in the life sciences at Arizona State University. Dave has traveled the world and has more than 7,000 species on his life list!
Dan Varland photo.




Date: May 17, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dave Murnen, Mary O'Neil, Dianna Moore, and Tom Rowley.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
4 adults,
1 immature
2 immatures


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Bald Eagle U/O


Bald Eagle with visual identification band U/O accents a pollution warning sign.
Bald Eagle with visual identification band U/O accents a pollution warning sign.
Tom Rowley photo.


Gull feeds on Elephant Seal carcass.
Gull feeds on Elephant Seal carcass.
Tom Rowley photo.




Date: May 8, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Tom Rowley, and Trish Safstrom.


Man and woman on beach with a spotting scope
We set up the net launcher with a Harbor Seal carcass as bait. Trish Safstrom and Tom Rowley watch the set from afar. It was a slow morning. None of our target birds – Bald Eagles, Common Ravens or Turkey Vultures – showed up to feed.
Dan Varland photo.


Person fishing in surf with family watching
A little bored, we drove a short distance and discovered a surf fisherman, wife and daughter. This photo and others in the series were taken by Tom Rowley.


Ravens picking through family's belongings
They set packs and a bait bucket a few hundred yards away, which the crows soon found.


Ravens picking through family's belongings
Razor Clam! What a prize!


Ravens picking through family's belongings



Ravens picking through family's belongings



Ravens picking through family's belongings



Flock of ravens taking flight on beach



Girl running towards family belongings with ravens investigating



Girl running towards family belongings with ravens investigating



Girl running towards family belongings with ravens investigating





Date: May 5, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Tom Rowley, Sandra Miller and the McWalter family: David, Thomas, Mariah and Ian.


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Common Raven LSGRGO


people standing on beach
We set up the net launcher with an Elephant Seal carcass as bait. From afar, we watched and waited: David McWalter (far left) and his children (left to right): Ian, Mariah and Thomas. Chief photographer Tom Rowley is in the back.
Dan Varland photo.


Man showing children bird banding equipment
While we wait, I talk about bird banding and show Mariah and Thomas the bands we apply to Bald Eagles.
Tom Rowley photo.


Raven caught in net
At 8:40 AM an adult male Common Raven is captured.
Tom Rowley photo.


Man holding a hooded raven
Thomas and Ian take a close look at our raven. Before he's freed from the net, our raven was hooded. This has a calming effect and minimizes the chances of being bitten.
Tom Rowley photo.


puncture wound on palm of hand
Raven injury! Hooded, our raven was able to see just enough to bite my hand! It was a mere flesh wound!
Tom Rowley photo.


Man and 3 children on beach
After a 20-minute effort to free the raven, we take pause for a photo. Note the rain shower.
Tom Rowley photo.


Close up of raven legs with bands
The bands: left leg, silver USGS band over green; right leg, green over orange.
Tom Rowley photo.


Woman sitting in vehicle holding a hooded raven
Sandra Miller relaxes with our raven while the rest of us get organized to draw blood and take feather samples.
Tom Rowley photo.


Man holding a raven
Just prior to release.
Tom Rowley photo.


Raven flying away
Away! I shared this photo with Coastal Raptors' newest Board member and raven aficionado John Marzluff. John's response was a reminder, "they like to be released from the ground". The safe way to release birds after processing is at ground level, so moving forward that is the approach we will take. We assume they will fly, but maybe not!
Tom Rowley photo.




Date: May 4, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland Mary O'Neil, Rita Schlageter, Margaret Veitel, and Cecilia Pinkal.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Merlin
3 adults,
1 immature
1


Four people with spotting scopes on beach near jetty
We stopped to bird at the jetty. A Wandering Tattler was spotted on the rocks at the far end.
Dan Varland photo.


Four people with spotting scopes
Four sisters, left to right: Cecilia Pinkal, Mary O'Neil, Margaret Veitel and Rita Schlageter. Mary is a regular volunteer with Coastal Raptors. Sisters Rita, Margaret and Cecelia traveled from as far away as Las Vegas to join Mary for the Grays Harbor Shorebird Festival and a Coastal Raptors survey.
Dan Varland photo.


People digging a truck out of sand on beach.
Truck stuck!
Dan Varland photo.


Tangle of net and rope.
Tangle of net and rope.
Dan Varland photo.




Date: April 29, 2015
Location: Grayland
Observers: Varland, Tom Rowley, Dan Miller and Pam McCauley.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Turkey Vulture
5 adults,
2 immatures
2 adults


An adult Bald Eagle next to a first-year bird.
An adult Bald Eagle next to a first-year bird.
Tom Rowley photo.


This Bald Eagle becomes a 3-year-old this spring.
This Bald Eagle becomes a 3-year-old this spring.
Tom Rowley photo.


First-year Bald Eagle takes flight.
First-year Bald Eagle takes flight.
Tom Rowley photo.


Gulls and Turkey Vulture at a Humpback Whale carcass north of Grayland.
Gulls and Turkey Vulture at a Humpback Whale carcass north of Grayland.
Tom Rowley photo.


Gull dust up on the whale.
Gull dust up on the whale.
Tom Rowley photo.


Turkey vultures and a Bald Eagle perched not far from the carcass.
Turkey vultures and a Bald Eagle perched not far from the carcass.
Tom Rowley photo.


Turkey Vulture feeds on a bird carcass in the Velella
Turkey Vulture feeds on a bird carcass in the Velella
Tom Rowley photo.


Sanderlings and Western Sandpipers foraging in the Velella.
Sanderlings and Western Sandpipers foraging in the Velella.
Tom Rowley photo.


Velella, looking like snow in the sunlight, south of Grayland.
Velella, looking like snow in the sunlight, south of Grayland.
Tom Rowley photo.



I created a "Velella Angel", given a Dan Miller suggestion that somebody do it!
Tom Rowley photo.



He later said, "I'm just glad I didn't suggest a snowball fight!"
Tom Rowley photo.




Date: April 26, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Lisa Dick and Bill Morgan.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle
2 adults,
1 immature


Marked Raptors or Ravens Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Common Ravens RGOLSY



Common Raven with visual identification bands RGOLSY: Right leg, Green over Orange; Left leg, Silver over Yellow. We banded this bird, an adult male, on March 23, 2014.
Dan Varland video.


Tens of thousands of Velella washed up dead on the beach.
Tens of thousands of Velella washed up dead on the beach.
Dan Varland photo.


Velella have small, rigid sails
Velella have small, rigid sails that project upward and catch the wind. With no way to move other than wind power, they are often stranded ashore by the thousands.
Dan Varland photo.


Velella.
Velella.
Dan Varland photo.



We saw thousands of shorebirds on the beach, including these Marbled Godwits (larger, in the back) and Dunlin at the water's edge.
Dan Varland video.




Date: April 16, 2015
Location: Grayland
Observers: Dan Varland, Mary O'Neil and Trish Safstrom.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon Merlin
1 adult,
1 immature
1 adult,
1 immature
1


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon K/8


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon P/8


Dead humpback whale on the beach
Humpback Whale carcass.
Dan Varland photo.


Falcon held on it's back with banded legs showing
First-year male Peregrine Falcon we captured and banded with visual identification band K/8.
Dan Varland photo.


Feathers with some a blue color rather than brown like the rest
K/8 is beginning to molt in the blue-gray feathers characteristic of the adult plumage in peregrines. This process begins in March or April and is nearly complete by mid-September. A few brown feathers may be retained for one year.
Dan Varland photo.


Close-up of the blue-gray feathers on the back.
Close-up of the blue-gray feathers on the back.


One blue-gray feather above the tail.
One blue-gray feather above the tail.



Trish Safstrom releases K/8.




Date: April 13, 2015
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Jim Deane, Nathalie Denis and Pam McCauley.
Comments: We saw 28 Bald Eagles during this survey, a new record!


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon Merlin
16 adults,
12 immatures
1 adult,
2 immature
1


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Bald Eagle M/R
Bald Eagle B/2



We found Bald Eagle with visual ID band M/R perched atop this sign in the northern part of the Long Beach Peninsula.
We banded M/R on April 12, 2012, two miles north of where we saw him today.
Dan Varland photo.


Close-up of the bands.
Close-up of the bands.
Dan Varland photo.


Beach covered in small blue jelly masses
The beach was full of velella. Dictionary.com describes velella as "a floating colony of hydrozoans of the genus Velella, having a vertical sale". The 4Runner got stuck in them as we stopped in the middle of one of the masses to take some photos. We had abandoned the idea of getting photos to push the rig out of the sticky mess!
Dan Varland photo.



Bald Eagle feeds on a Harbor Seal carcass.
Dan Varland video.


3-year-old Bald Eagle
Soon to-be-3-year-old Bald Eagle with velella and a Black-bellied Plover in the background.
Dan Varland photo.


Banded Caspian Tern
Banded Caspian Tern. Caspian Terns are banded as part of a research project by Bird Research Northwest.
Dan Varland photo.




Date: April 8, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Dale Larson, Johnny and Yvonne Palka.
Comments: Because of patchy morning fog, we were unable to do a complete raptor count in the survey area. Nevertheless, we had a wonderful morning on the beach that included sightings of two of our banded birds.


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon R/6
Bald Eagle N/K


Johnny and Yvonne Palka with Dan Varland.
Johnny and Yvonne Palka with Dan Varland. Johnny and Yvonne traveled from Whidbey Island to be part of today's survey.
Dale Larson photo.


Man inside a vehicle taking photos with a telephoto lens
Johnny behind the camera. Johnny had recently purchased a telephoto lens for his camera. He tried it out today for the first time with great success. Some of his best photos of the morning follow.
Dale Larson photo.


Bald Eagle and Sanderlings
Four-year-old Bald Eagle and Sanderlings.
Johnny Palka photo.


Marbled Godwits.
Marbled Godwits.
Johnny Palka photo.


Marbled Godwits.
Marbled Godwits.
Johnny Palka photo.


Bald Eagle and crow
A Bald Eagle feeds on a Harbor Seal carcass while a crow waits his turn.
Johnny Palka photo.


male Bald Eagle
We were pleased to see N/K, an adult male Bald Eagle Coastal Raptors captured, banded and tissue-sampled on April 5, 2014.
Johnny Palka photo.


immature female Peregrine Falcon
R/6, an immature female Peregrine Falcon Coastal Raptors captured, banded and tissue-sampled on September 18, 2014.
Johnny Palka photo.




Date: March 19, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Nathalie Denis, Trish Safstrom, and Bill Morgan.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon Merlin
3 adults,
3 immatures
2 immatures 1


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon R/6
Bald Eagle D/2



Looking at this Bald Eagle through the spotting scope, we could see that it was banded.
Dan Varland photo.



Close-up, showing a green visual identification band. With time, we were able to see that this was D/2, a female we had captured on May 5, 2014. Back then, she had just turned three years of age. In May of this year, she'll be four years old.
Dan Varland photo.



D/2 relaxes on the beach north of Ocean Shores.
Dan Varland video.



Larry Warwick with D/2 on May 5, 2014, the day she was captured and banded.
Dan Varland photo.




Date: March 8, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dave Murnen, Tom Rowley, Dianna Moore and Lisa Dick.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon Northern Harrier
3 adults,
3 immatures
2 immatures 1 adult


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon R/6
Peregrine Falcon Z/V


Falcon perched on driftwood with head twisted to look up
R/6.
Tom Rowley photo.


Falcon taking off from driftwood perch
R/6.
Tom Rowley photo.




Date: March 6, 2015
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Jim Harper, Meagan Campbell and Larry Warwick.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
3 adults,
2 immatures
2 immatures


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Bald Eagle V/O
Peregrine Falcon E/2


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon P/8


man with Peregrine Falcon
Jim Harper with E/2, a first-year male Peregrine Falcon we captured and banded.
Dan Varland photo.


man with Peregrine Falcon
E/2.
Dan Varland photo.


Man holding a hooded a bald eagle
Larry Warwick with V/O, an adult Bald Eagle we captured and banded.
Jim Harper photo.


scissors clipping a feather on an outstretched wing
Taking a feather sample from the eagle for contaminants testing.
Jim Harper photo.


Woman drawing blood from a bald eagle
Taking a blood sample for contaminants and disease testing
Jim Harper photo.


Man and woman on beach with bald eagle flying away
Meagan Campbell releases the eagle.
Jim Harper photo.



The release.
Dan Varland video.




Date: March 5, 2015
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Jim Harper, Meagan Campbell, Suzanne Staples and Larry Warwick.


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon P/8



Meagan Campbell with P/8, a first-year male Peregrine Falcon we captured and banded.
Jim Harper photo.



Jim Harper photo.



P/8.
Jim Harper photo.




Date: March 3, 2015
Location: Shafer Meadows Lane (near Montesano, Washington)
Observers: Dan Varland and Pam McCauley.


Man feeding peacocks
John Thompson feeding Peacocks and Hencocks (females) in front of the net launcher before it was fired. John feeds them daily. The injured Peacock was a regular at feeding time.



Successful capture of a feral Peacock. Someone had shot him in the leg with an arrow. Veterinarian Dr. Sonnya Crawford asked that I catch the bird in an email message. I first said no, writing back: If you had an eagle with an arrow, I'd be over in a flash... but a peacock? It's very hard for me to justify the time for trapping that. We're talking at least a half-day of my time to do this and I'm in the busiest part of the year for field work, plus I have the usual piles of paperwork pending... Dan. Her reply: Could we borrow your net thrower? I understand if we cannot. Thank you for your time. At this point I knew she really wanted that bird brought in, so I agreed to give it a try. With Pam McCauley helping, we got the job done. It was a great experience for both of us.
Dan Varland video.


Man with peacock wrapped in netting
So he wouldn't injure himself, we quickly tossed a blanked over him. The arrow can be seen at left.


Man with peacock wrapped in netting
John Thompson steadied and calmed the bird under the net.



He was shot through the thigh. The arrow was just under the skin so no real damage was done to muscle and nerve tissue.


Woman holding peacock
Pam took this selfie on the way to Grays Harbor Veterinary Services.


Close up of peacock head
First Peacock ever to ride in my 4Runner...eagles, vultures, peregrine falcon...yes, ...but a Peacock! This was a first!


Woman holding peacock in office
Pam at the front desk of Grays Harbor Veterinary Services. At this point, Dr. Sonnya and her staff took over.


Photo of letter
I received a wonderful letter of appreciation from Rick Scott, Grays Harbor Sherriff, for rescuing the Peacock. Pam got one too!




Date: March 2, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Glenn Marquardt, Sandra Miller, and Dan Miller.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
4 adults,
2 immatures
1 adult,
1 immature


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon Z/V


Marked Individuals Observed:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon W/Z



W/Z, a male Peregrine Falcon we captured and banded on November 17, 2007, feeds on a bird he caught north of Ocean Shores. Since banding, we've seen him every year except last year. It was great to see that he was alive and well!
Dan Varland video.


Close up of metal bands on falcon legs
We captured him for blood and feather samples.
Dan Varland photo.


Man holding falcon on beach
Dan V with W/Z.
Dan Miller photo.


Man holding falcon on beach
Z/V, a first-year female Peregrine Falcon we captured and banded.
Dan Miller photo.


Close up of metal bands on falcon legs
Dan Miller photo.


perched Peregrine Falcon
Wonderful photo of Z/V taken by Tom Michalski one week after capture, on March 9. Tom found her about 3 miles north of our capture location.




Date: March 1, 2015
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Dave Murnen, Dan Miller, and Sandra Miller.


Raptor Count:
Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
3 adults,
2 immatures
2 immatures


Raptors Banded:
Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon Z/U


Woman in a yellow cap holding falcon on the beach
Sandra Miller with Z/U, a female Peregrine Falcon we captured and banded.
Dan Varland photo.


Close up of feathers - group in middle are a different color
Three juvenile feathers on her back indicated to us that she was a one-year-old.
Dan Varland photo.


Woman holding Peregrine Falcon
Z/U.
Dan Varland photo.