Mtn BB - Lazuli and Indigo Buntings - Trail 216 &216D

John & Loraine Allinger jonymike at pacifier.com
Sat Jun 30 23:49:57 PDT 2001


Family outing at Windy Pass, Mount St. Helens - 30 June, 2001.  

A pretty ho-hum day birding-wise until our son spotted the Indigo Bunting, which flew down from it's perch, and out of sight just over the ridge crest.  It was almost immediately relocated by taking a couple of steps off the trail - only it turned into a Mountain Bluebird!  What is wrong with these eyes!  Then the smaller 'blue bird' reappeared flying over to the west side of the ridge and disappeared in some low bushes.  Couldn't relocate it with the binoculars.  However, a short distance further down the ridge he  spotted another 'blue bird', this a Lazuli Bunting!  Then we had two more good looks at Indigo Buntings.  And there was another Lazuli Bunting.  The Indigo Buntings and the Lazuli Buntings were both perching and singing then flying down to feed on the small grasshoppers that were plaguing the lupines.  The Mountain Bluebird that we were hoping to see all day,  well, he didn't get all our attention.  And he was a fine feathered fellow!  Beautiful plumage.  Sightings in this report were about 6 - 6:30 PM on Saturday.

Nice day, even if the legs were worn down a bit.  Now it ranks a REAL NICE birding day!  But that isn't the whole story.  A mammal sighting on the drive home made the day even more special.

"That's another de - cougar!"  I exclaimed as we drove home in the dark.  "Did you see the long body and the way it moved."  My wife said she was set to call out another deer when she'd realized, as I had, that this animal did not walk like a deer, but was low and long, and tawny brown.  My observation had it a very red brown, maybe a bit redder than some blacktailed deer seen under certain lighting conditions that makes them appear more red than brown.  

A month or so ago, when we were also out bicycle-birding north of Carson, Washington, we had a large black bear cross the road as we headed home.  What will be next?

Trail - Location
We biked 1.75 miles south from Windy Ridge (end of FS 99 Road) on the 216 trail which is on an old  logging road in this area.  At that point trail 216D ascends to the south towards the Plains of Abraham, where it reconnects with the 216 trail routed through Windy Pass.  It was along the first section of this 216D trail where it traversed the narrow ridge crest and accomplishes vertical ascent by means of 250 log and cable steps, that we found the 3 species of 'blue birds'.  Yes, some people bicycle this section!  Mostly they walk the bikes down, but some ride them down.  If heading south, you carry them or walk them up the steps. We parked ours.  If you go, be prepared for the elevation and the exposure - sun, wind and/or weather.  This area is probably at elevation 4000 - 4500 feet, and close in to the northeast of Mount St. Helens. 
 
John & Loraine Allinger
45-45 N -- 122-28 W -  Elev: 160m(500ft) 
Hockinson, Clark Co., WA, US
Mailto: jonymike at pacifier.com
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