Notes from the Field (Summer 2017):

Date: September 16, 2017
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland, Dan Miller, Dianna Moore and Nicholas Moir. 


Raptor Count

Peregrine Falcon
1 adult


Marked Individuals Observed

Species Color Marker Code
Common Raven ROYLGS
Peregrine Falcon S/6


Two Common Ravens feed at a carcass, one is banded. Dan Varland photo.

Turns out Coastal Raptors banded this raven, a female, at Ocean Shores on 

April 23, 2014; this is the 18th re-sighting of ROYLGS.  ROYLEGS: R=right

leg, O=orange; Y=yellow; L=left leg, G=green (band removed!), S=silver.

Dan Varland photo.

Female Peregrine with visual ID band S/6 packing a Common Flicker. This 

photo was taken by Ocean Shores photographer Steve Hill, also known as the 

"Eagle Whisperer". Steve captured this image on the beach at Ocean Shores 

on September 14, two days before our survey.  


Aware of Steve's encounter on September 14, we were on the lookout for S/6. 

We were able to locate and capture her; when possible, we re-capture peregrines

we've banded once a year to obtain blood and feather samples. S/6 was banded 

on the Ocean Shores beach by Coastal Raptors on October 28, 2016. Today 

marks the 7th re-observation since banding. Nicholas Moir photo. 



Nicholas Moir photo. 


S/6 perched comfortably after release.  Dan Varland photo.


Dan Varland photo.


By the way, we saw the driftwood bush where S/6 perched after release wash 

ashore during a survey on February 20, 2017. Dan Varland photo.


Dan Varland photo.


Date: September 11, 2017
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Scott Horton; Rick and Susan Harness. 



Raptor Count 

Bald Eagle Turkey Vulture
1 adult 5 (2 adults, 1 immature, 2 age uncertain)



Marked Individuals Observed

Species Color Marker Code
Common Raven RSYLOG


With anemometer and compass in hand, I get wind speed and direction at the 

beginning of the survey. Wind was light, 1.4 miles/hour from the northwest. 

Rick Harness photo. 


Survey photographers. Rick Harness and Dan Varland. 

Susan Harness photo. 


Marbled Godwit. Rick Harness photo. 


Immature gull.  Rick Harness photo.  


Dan Varland photo. 

Dan Varland photo. 

Dan Varland photo. 

Dan Varland photo. 

Common Raven at Black-tailed Deer carcass. Rick Harness photo. 

Turkey Vulture at gull carcass. Rick Harness photo. 

An immature Turkey Vulture (dark head) awaits his turn while an adult feeds.

Dan Varland photo.

The adult tells the youngster to back off! Dan Varland photo. 


And he does! Dan Varland photo. 

He gets his turn eventually. Dan Varland photo. 

Caspian Terns. Rick Harness photo. 


We documented three color banded Caspian Terns on the survey. This tern

is 14 years old, banded as a chick on East Sand Island near Ilwaco in 2003. 

Thanks go to Yasuko Suzuki for providing this information; Suzuko is a post-

doctoral research associate at Oregon State University where Caspian Tern

research has been ongoing for many years. Dan Varland photo.

The bird AND the bands look great, considering their age!



Here I share a few photos of the oldest banded Peregrine Falcon on record in 

the Coastal Raptors banding effort. The effort dates back to 1995 with more than

200 peregrines banded on the coastal beaches. The photos are courtesy of Ernie 

Pacholuk. This is V/M, a female we banded in her first year on the Grayland beach, 

January 22, 2003. She's 14 years old, the same age as the  aforementioned tern. 

Ernie photographed her on April 2, 2017, 21 miles northwest of Victoria.


Her bands are looking pretty good!

And she's looking even better!


V/M was photographed again by Ernie on April 9, 2017 with a mouse. Ernie 

and I suspect she was nesting nearby. 


Another banded tern. This one 10 years of age. Dan Varland photo.


Blowing sand can make it difficult to read bands!


A female Common Raven we banded June 78, 2013. RSYLOG; R=right; 

S=silver;Y=yellow; L=left; O=orange; G=gray. Rick Harness photo. 

RSYLOG talks with two other ravens which we suspect were her young of 

the year. Rick Harness photo. 

Snowy Plover. Rick Harness photo.

Rick Harness photo. 

North end of the Long Beach Peninsula, with Sue Harness enjoying the view.

Rick Harness photo. 


Joining Scott Horton and me for the survey from Fort Collins, Colorado, Rick 

and Sue Harness pause for a photo. Dan Varland photo.


Date: September 5, 2017
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Tony Starlight, and Sandra Miller.

Comments: All photos by Dan Varland.


Raptor Count

Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon Osprey Turkey Vulture
1 adult 1 immature 2 age uncertain 1 age uncertain


Individuals Marked

Species Color Marker Code
Peregrine Falcon S/8



Caspian Tern with visual identification bands. We saw six others with visual 

ID bands during the survey, and will report the sighting information (band color

combinations, date, sighting locations) to the federal Bird Banding Lab. 

The Caspian in the middle of this photo is banded, but does not wear visual ID


A Common Tern (foreground) and Caspian Tern face into the south wind. 


Five on  a walk.


One on a log.


First-year male Peale's Peregrine Falcon we captured 19 miles north.


Tony Starlight applying the visual identification band, S/8.


Nice job, Tony!




Brown Pelicans, immatures to the left. 


Sandra reads up on Sooty Shearwaters in the Sibley guide while Tony scopes 

them out several hundred yards off shore. 


A Sooty Shearwater off the northwest Olympic Peninsula. I took this photo

during a fishing trip on September 4, the day before our raptor survey at Long 


The fishing was great. Here I am with a Rock Fish, one of

24 we caught. 

Skipper Scott Horton with a keeper Rock Fish. 



Date: August 25, 2017
Location: Ocean Shores
Observers: Dan Varland and Dave Murnen; John, Andrea, Zoe and Miles Mann. 

Comments: Photos by Dan Varland and Dave Murnen. 


Raptor Count 

Bald Eagle Osprey
1 immature 1 age uncertain


Dave Murnen shares images with Zoe and Miles. 


I talk about raptor banding with Miles, Zoe and their dad 



Miles and Zoe recorded data on people and vehicles along the survey route, 

with a little help from their friends. 


Common Raven scavenges a gull. 


Very large Stellar's Sea lion carcass not far from Conner Creek at the north end

of the study area. We notified Marine Mammal Standing Network biologist 

Dyanna Lamborne about the standing.  

This young man found a sculpin in a salt water pool left by

the receding tide. 



Heermann's Gulls.

It was a good day to be on the beach, despite the low raptor count!  


Date: August 17, 2017
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland; Victor, Joan and Monte Estrada; Glenn Marquardt, Diane 

Fuller and Karla Antrim. 


Raptor Count

Bald Eagle Turkey Vulture Osprey
2 adults, 2 age uncertain 4 adults 1 age uncertain

Marked Individuals Observed

Species Color Marker Code
Common Raven RSYLOG

Our very special guests on today's survey, the Estrada family  from Barcelona, 

Spain. Posing for a photo with me are Montse and Victor with their son Joan. 

Diane Fuller photo. 

Victor and Joan. Victor works in business and is a peregrine researcher. Joan is

a high school student with one more year to go; he plans to go to college and 

study in the biological sciences. Joan is especially interested in shorebirds. 

Montse Estrada photo. 


An excellent photographer, Victor shares some of his images with Joan and 

Diane Fuller. Victor's photos from the survey are featured below. Dan 

Varland photo. 


Osprey with fish. Victor Estrada photo. 


Turkey Vulture.  Victor Estrada photo. 

Victor Estrada photo. 

Color-banded Common Raven. Coastal Raptors captured, banded and tissue-

sampled this individual, a female, on June 7, 2013; she was trapped about three 

miles north of where we saw her today. Our sighting was the fourth, one in 2016

and three in 2017. All of the sightings have occurred within a few miles of the 

banding location. Victor Estrada photo. 


Banded Caspian Tern. I reported our sighting to the federal Bird Banding Lab.  

Victor Estrada photo. 


Long-billed Dowitchers.  Victor Estrada photo. 

Long-billed Dowitchers. Victor Estrada photo. 

Snowy Plover.  Victor Estrada photo. 

Sanderlings.  Victor Estrada photo. 

Sanderlings.  Victor Estrada photo. 

Enjoying the coast, south end of the Long Beach Peninsula. Dan Varland photo.

Date: June 15-16, 2017

Location: 3.5 miles west of Hoquiam, WA

Participants: Dan Varland, Luke Sutton, Andetrius Lee, Jennifer and Dorianne 

Seel, Glenn Marquardt.

We set out to capture, blood sample and wing-tag 

Turkey Vultures and possibly Bald Eagles at the 

location indicated by the arrow. The effort included 

pre-baiting with deer and dogfish shark carcasses 

and setting up a blind in the trees to the right of the 



The blind. 

Luke Sutton in the blind. 

I set out a motion-activated camera in the days leading up to our trapping 

effort. Here a Turkey Vulture walks in front the camera. 

Three wing-tagged Turkey Vultures turned up to feed during pre-baiting, before 

the trap was set. Here we see BV, a vulture we captured and tagged a few miles 

from the trapping location at the Hoquiam Wastewater Treatment Plant on July 

11, 2015. Two Black-tailed Deer  watch the vulture feed.  

In addition to vultures, both tagged and un-tagged, this 3-year-old Bald Eagle 

turned up to feed before we started our trapping effort. 


Three vultures soaking up the sun in a Sitka Spruce about 100 yards from 

the trap site. That's AY in the upper right, a vulture we tagged June 13, 2013

on the beach 7 miles north of Ocean Shores. Dan Varland photo. 

Turkey Vulture AY in flight. While we made a valiant effort to catch birds

for the avian scavenger study, it was to no avail. June 14 was a rainy day. There 

was little activity at the set. On June 15 the immature eagle flew in and began 

feeding. I was in the blind and elected to hold off firing the net launcher until 

Luke Sutton and Andetrius Lee could arrive to help with the bird under the net.  

Before they could arrive, the eagle flew off, never to return. An hour or so later 

two vultures landed, then walked to within 5 feet of the set. Unfortunately they 

quit walking and flew off in a hurry at the sound of the front door closing at 

the house next to the trapping station. After that Jennifer and Dorianne Seel watched 

for vultures and the eagle from the blind for several hours. While several circled

over the set, none would land. We think they were on to us, so no captures!   

Dan Varland photo. 

Date: June 14, 2017
Location: Ocean Shores. 
Observers: Dan Varland, Luke Sutton, and Dianna Moore. 

Raptor Count


Bald Eagle Peregrine Falcon
11 adults, 7 immatures 1 immature


Luke Sutton. Luke monitors Peregrine Falcon nesting in southwest 

England. He and colleagues band peregrine nestlings and are interested

in expanding their research effort to include banding adults. Luke is a 

student at the University of Plymouth. Visiting Washington at semester's 

end, Luke spent one week with the Bud Anderson's Falcon Research Group 

and most of another with Coastal Raptors. It was great having Luke join us! 

Dan Varland photo. 


Nestling Peregrine Falcon banded by Luke Sutton and colleagues in southwest 

England this spring. Bird banding is called ringing in Europe. Its origins

date back to 1899 when Denmark's Hans Christian Cornelius Mortensen 

applied metal bands to European Starlings.  Luke Sutton photo. 

Remains of a scavenged bird carcass.  Dan Varland photo. 

Luke photographs tracks near the carcass using his phone.  Dan Varland photo. 

Bald Eagle tracks near the carcass.  Dan Varland photo. 

Common Raven tracks near the carcass. Dan Varland photo. 

Bald Eagles at a sea lion carcass.  Luke Sutton photo. 

Luke Sutton photo. 

Peregrine Falcon. Luke Sutton photo. 

Date: June 12, 2017
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Luke Sutton, Glenn Markquardt, and Charlotte Killien. 


The night before our survey, we stayed at the George Johnson House, a B&B 

on the Long Beach Peninsula at Ocean Park. Our gracious, most excellent

hostess was Charlotte Killien.  Dan Varland photo. 


Charlotte and Luke. We found time to drive the beach the evening before 

the full survey on June 13. The George Johnson House has been part of 

Charlotte's family since the 1970's. Dan Varland photo. 


Scrub Jay across the street from the George Johnson House in Ocean Park.  

Luke Sutton photo. 



Date: June 13, 2017
Location: Long Beach
Observers: Dan Varland, Luke Sutton, Glenn Markquardt, and Dorianne Seel.


Raptor Count

Bald Eagle Turkey Vulture Osprey
9 adults, 9 immatures 1 adult 1 age uncertain


Marked Individuals Observed

Species Color Marker Code
Common Raven RSYLOG


Luke left the vehicle for a better photo of a Bald Eagle, which was perched 

atop a post. Dan Varland photo. 


Caspian Tern with bands. We saw and photographed six banded Caspian Terns  

during the survey; the band combination for this individual and the others have 

been submitted to the Bird Banding Lab. Luke Sutton photo. 


Dorianne Seel photographed this immature gull feeding on an Elephant Seal 

carcass. Field guides we consulted lead us to think this might be an Iceland Gull,

but when this photo and the one below were sent to gull expert Ryan Merrill, he

wrote "definately not an Iceland or Thayer's Gull since it's much too bulky and 

big-billed". Ryan concluded our gull was a Glaucous-winged or Glaucous-

winged-Western Gull Hybrid. 


Dorianne Seel photo. 


Three-year-old Bald Eagle feeds on a sturgeon head. Luke Sutton photo. 



Date: June 2, 2017
Location: Grayland
Observers: Dan Varland; Ryan, Candice, Rob and Helen Flook

Raptor Count

Bald Eagle Turkey Vultures
6 adults, 5 immatures 4 adults

Turkey Vulture drying wings. Dan Varland photo. 

Another wing-drying vulture.  Dan Varland photo. 

Nature's cleanup crew, Turkey Vultures walking in to feed on a sea lion carcass.

Dan Varland photo. 

Immature Bald Eagle feeds on a seal carcass with another immature and a crow

watching closely!  Dan Varland photo.