[Tweeters] Acorn Woodpeckers near Lyle 12-1

Ruth Sullivan godwit at worldnet.att.net
Wed Dec 1 22:04:42 PST 2004

Hello Tweets,

Today my mother and I traveled down and over to the Lyle area(in Klickitat Co.)in search of Acorn Woodpecker(s)along Balsh Lake Rd. with a very successful day. We located up to 4 Acorn Woodpeckers along the eastern portion of Balsh Lake Rd. with most sightings during the day of 1-3 birds. The Acorn Woodpeckers remained very active during our entire visit,as well as heard calling many times as they foraged in an oak grove with several possible granary trees noted. We enjoy our visit,as conditions cleared along with locating several other highlights. We arrived at 8am along Balsh Lake Rd.(just south of the "old" schoolhouse owned by Glen Wood),where we parked along the road and nearly immediately located our first Acorn Woodpecker of the day,as it flew into an oak grove just east of the road on private property. We were joined by Joseph Higbee,as we all watched the bird forage in the oak grove until another Acorn Woodpecker flew in and joined that bird along with several active Lewis' Woodpeckers nearby. The birds were very active and flew from tree to tree on the private property,but within viewing distance and we respected the sensitivity of staying on the road and not proceeding further.

We watched the 2 birds for awhile until 2 additional birds flew in separately,but they all remained quite elusive at times. We walked downhill from the location to attempt to get a better vantage for viewing and for lighting purposes. We watched from the downhill location as at least one of the Acorn Woodpeckers flew in to a tree next to the residence,but upon walking back uphill the bird flew off to the oak grove. We then continued watching the birds,as they actively gathered acorns and flew to different locations to possibly store them and they never used one location more than once,as it seemed. We observed a fairly tall,cut-off Ponderosa Pine tree that had a few holes in it,but none of the trees in the vicinity seemed to be extensively used by the Acorn Woodpeckers. As we stood patiently watching the birds we met Glen Wood,who was very accommodating and asked us to park our vehicles on his property to avoid any conflicts from residents. We moved our vehicles and the continued watching the Acorn Woodpeckers,mainly for photographs. It was great to see these birds along with watching their interaction with other nearby species including both Western Scrub and Steller's Jays and Lewis' Woodpeckers. We noticed several occasions that the jays would occasionally chase the Acorn Woodpeckers around,but the Lewis' Woodpeckers didn't seem to show any aggressive behavior. As the Acorn Woodpeckers flew around the oak grove and within the private property we obtained great looks at their striking black and white pattern in flight and the best views of the birds showing the cream-colored throat and striking white eyes contrasting to the bright red cap and black back and breast band. We were entertained by the birds nearly all day,although at times the birds were have quiet times,as we remained patient along the roadside.

We also add in addition to Mike Denny's and Steve Mlodinow's postings the importance of respecting the rights of residents along Balsh Lake Rd. and not walking onto their properties or protruding over fences,etc. in search of the Acorn Woodpeckers. As we spoke with Glen Wood he again mentioned it was ideal and recommended that birders park on his property in search of the Acorn Woodpeckers to avoid any disturbance to landowners,as well as keeping the roads clear of vehicles for logging truck traffic,etc.

Along with great views of the Acorn Woodpeckers we also observed a few other highlights at this location:

2 Pied-billed Grebes(Balsh Lake)
75+ Wood Ducks(Balsh Lake)
3 Bald Eagles
2 Sharp-shinned Hawks
1 adult Cooper's Hawk
4 Red-tailed Hawks
1 Golden Eagle
1 Am.Kestrel
1 Merlin
1 Prairie Falcon
150+ California Quail
1 Wilson's Snipe(Balsh Lake)
20+ Lewis' Woodpeckers
2 Downy Woodpeckers
1 Pileated Woodpeckers
7 Mountain Chickadees
5+ White-breasted Nuthatches
10 Varied Thrushes
2 Yellow-rumped Warblers
14 Golden-crowned Sparrows
4 Purple Finches
15 Red Crossbills
3 Common Redpolls(observed and heard calling overhead continuing north of Balsh Lake)
2 Lesser Goldfinches

In addition my mother and I stopped at a few other locations to and from Lyle including short visits made along Hwy.14 at Stevenson(Rock Cove),the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery,and at Bingen with the following highlights noted at those locations:

1 Great Egret,1 Eurasian Wigeon,1 White-breasted Nuthatch, and 1 Mountain Chickadee at the Spring Creek Fish Hatchery,Skamania Co.
1 Eared Grebe,the 3 lingering Greater White-fronted Geese and a Surf Scoter at Rock Cove,Skamania Co.
4 Trumpeter Swans at Bingen,Klickitat Co.

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit at worldnet.att.net

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