Grant and Douglas Co. birding 3/8-10

Birdking88 at aol.com Birdking88 at aol.com
Sun Mar 10 21:10:20 PST 2002


Hey Tweeters,
I set off on a weekend expedition to Eastern WA with Carol Schulz midday
Friday. Our first stop was in S. Cle Elum, where at the bridge that goes over
the river to S. Cle Elum we had over 115 swallows feeding on insects and
perching on the rocks. My estimate of numbers of each species was as follows:
100+ Violet-green Swallows
13+ Barn Swallows
3 Tree Swallows
1 CLIFF SWALLOW
We walked around the neighborhoods in S. Cle Elum and had about 10 Common
Redpolls total, including several swallowing grit only a few yards away. A
nice dark-morph Rough-legged Hawk flew over, as did several Bald Eagles and a
Sharp-shinned Hawk. Along E. Masterson Rd. we came across a "flock" of
free-roaming Common Peafowl next to a farm (there must have been 40 or 50
here) plus an Emu huddled up next to the road. No "wild" birds of note,
however.

We stayed the night in Efrata and met Andy Stepniewski's WOS trip in Dry
Falls the next morning. During the day we all scoured the Waterville Plateau
and various coulees for birds and got some 45 species. Highlights included 25
or so Gray-crowned Rosy-finches near Dry Falls, many raptors including at
least 3 or 4 Prairie Falcons, numerous Rough-legged Hawks, Golden Eagles, and
a Northern Shrike or two. In Mansfield were about a dozen Common Redpolls. At
the Mansfield Cemetery were 2 Great Horned Owls. A couple hundred Horned
Larks flew over the fields, not near enough to pick out Snow Buntings. A
large flock of 300+ Common Redpolls was flying over the fields near Withrow.
They landed in cottonwoods (?) above an old barn and began singing. There was
definitely no lack of pale birds in the flock, but no certain Hoary could be
picked out before the flock flew off again. Lapland Longspurs were heard and
seen flying over at various places.
One of our last detours of the day was Jameson Lake Road. Along this road
were several more Prairie Falcons, Barrow's Goldeneye, Canyon Wrens, and a
male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD. On our way home, I stopped just S of Sun Lake and
along Highway 17 in the rocks heard at least a dozen CHUKARS, and saw one of
them. This was near sunset. A Virginia Rail was also calling loudly from Sun
Lake with the breeding call.

After another night in Efrata, we headed north again. We arrived along Pine
Road (Leahy Cutoff Rd in Delorme) at about sunrise and located 23 GREATER
SAGE-GROUSE lekking. Also along this road was a Great Horned Owl in the nest
at the top of the only ponderosa pine in the area.
We then decided to head over to Wilson Creek to see what we could see. On
our way south we stopped briefly at Dry Falls Interpretive Center and I heard
several CHUKARS calling from the cliffs in the area. We went through Coulee
City and on Pinto Ridge Rd. Along Pinto Ridge Rd is the Coulee City sewage
treatment plant. This spot could be attractive to shorebirds in migration.
This whole area is under birded and could host some good species in season. I
did have one highlight at the sewage pond, an adult MEW GULL coursing low
over the pond with a few Ring-billed and Herring Gulls. How many records (if
any) are there for Mew Gull in Grant County? There were also scaup,
Bufflehead, and various dabblers in the ponds. There are some very promising
migrant traps in this area, with thick undergrowth, berries, as well as large
trees and nothing else for miles around. I'd love to visit this area in the
fall. I heard a Long-billed Curlew somewhere out in the fields, but could not
locate the bird.
At Wilson Creek we drove out of town on Kanniwai Road along the railroad
tracks. We had an early adult FERRUGINOUS HAWK perched on top of the small
cliff on the north side of the road. Presumably the same bird which owns the
3 nest structures on the same cliff. Over at the marsh overlook, I had about
7 TRICOLORED BLACKBIRDS (3 of them females) back at their colony along with
many Red-winged Blackbirds.
On our way home, I spotted 2 PACIFIC LOONS in Wanapum Lake right next to
the Vantage bridge and not far offshore. That's all for now, good luck and
good birding.

Charlie Wright
Birdking88 at aol.com
Sumner, WA


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