Robinson Canyon trip report

Lauren Braden LaurenB at seattleaudubon.org
Tue Jun 5 13:11:47 PDT 2001


What a wonderful weekend!

Robinson Canyon (the one near Ellensburg in Kittitas County) is gem of a
place this time of year. My friend Melissa and I headed in around 5 pm on
Monday, and our first bird was a cute (little) baby MOURNING DOVE right on
the trail. We hiked up Robinson Canyon Road about 4 miles or so. We had
the place to ourselves, accept for the birds, of course! On our hike up we
saw a male LAZULI BUNTING, a pair of GOLDFINCHES, RAVENS, several TOWNSEND'S
SOLITAIRE, WESTERN WOOD PEWEES, and many other birds. The only woodpecker
seen the first day was a RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER. We heard lots of warblers but
only got a really good look at one - a NASHVILLE. Oh, yes, and that
adorable CASSIN's VIREO.

The best bird that first day was hearing a PYGMY OWL tooting, which we also
heard again on Saturday at about the same location. At camp Friday night at
dusk (there are good campsites throughout) we were relaxing with our hot
chocolate and watching NIGHTJARS hunt insects 20 feet in front of us! Soon
they were chanting "Poor Will... Poor Will" and so we knew they were COMMON
POORWILLS and not Nighthawks.

Robinson creek was bone dry, so we had only the water we brought up with us.
So Saturday morning (the RAVENS woke us up at 5:20 am and were trying to
hang out on our backpacks) we decided to head back down the trail where we
knew there was water. After getting water, we headed up Ainsley Canyon,
which was equally beautiful, but equally dry. We spent much of the
afternoon up there anyway. We saw a CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD, hovering MOUNTAIN
BLUEBIRDS, and heard a WESTERN MEADOWLARK. RUFFED GROUSE were drumming all
over the place, and CHIPPING SPARROWS were abundant. We saw 2 WESTERN
TANAGERS, which was a target bird for our trip. Then it started hailing on
us, so we hiked down again.

Saturday night we camped at the first campsite into Robinson Canyon, which I
highly recommend because it has a stream flowing alongside it and easy water
access, which is not the case in most of this area! It is a mile or so in
from where you have to park now. Another reason I recommend it is because
this particular campsite (both last June and this past weekend) seems to
have a resident male CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD, as well as a male LAZULI BUNTING
and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK. It was very nice to watch and listen to these
three for hours on Saturday evening.

Saturday night brought us our second owl - a WESTERN SCREECH OWL, heard
around 2 am. Sunday morning was wonderful also, as we hiked up a side trail
near the entrance and came upon a flock of 8 CEDAR WAXWINGS and witnessed a
soaring GOLDEN EAGLE about 30 feet above our heads! Atop one of the hills
was a dry, piney area where we found a nesting FLICKER (saw it pop right out
of the cavity) and 4 HAIRY WOODPECKERS. Also we saw two more MEADOWLARKS
and CASSIN's FINCHES.

After hiking out we spent an hour or so at the Manastash Ridge Trail, at the
corner of Manastash and Cove roads. Here we ere looking for Bullock's
Orioles and House Wrens, and saw them both. The only birds seen on the
ridge trail itself were a few TOWHEES and a soaring TURKEY VULTURE. Right
at the corner of the two roads was a KESTREL, I think a female.

Well, that is all on the trip. Thanks to everyone who warned me about
rattlesnakes, but we were fortunate to not run into one. No ticks, either.


Lauren Braden
Advocate for Wildlife Habitat
Seattle Audubon Society
8050 35th Ave NE
Seattle, WA 98115
206-523-8243 x14
laurenb at seattleaudubon.org



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