Bonaparte's Gull from wikimedia
Bonaparte's Gull - Image courtesy of Wikimedia

By Russ Koppendrayer

While we added some nice species to our composite year list in February, none of them fit in the rarity category.

The smelt runs up the Columbia River and its Cowlitz County tributaries is one of the great spectacles of nature. These tiny but highly nutritious fish attract hordes of predators as they come upstream, including many sea lions, hundreds of Bald Eagles and thousands of gulls. Typically during a large smelt run (this year was one) we find a few vagrant gull species as mixed with the huge flocks of the usual seven species. This year a single Bonaparte's Gull was the sole oddity found in spite of a fairly robust effort by knowledgeable birders. While not one of our regular seven winter species it's not quite a rarity as we expect to see a few during their spring migration in April. 
A middle of February sighting of Barn Swallow was also about two months early although winter records of the species are becoming more frequent. All other additions to the list were expected arrivals or resident species we happened to miss in January.

Download the pdf here.