[Tweeters] dragonflies and birding at Horn Rapids and beyond

Ruth and/or Patrick Sullivan godwit at worldnet.att.net
Thu Jul 14 20:31:09 PDT 2005

Hello Tweets and NW Inlanders,

We enjoyed another 2 day visit to the Horn Rapids-Tri-Cities area of eastern WA on the 13th and 14th of July,which was primarily a successful dragonfly trip with some birding too! Our main goal of the trip was to relocate and photograph the very rare dragonfly called the White-belted Ringtail that Dennis Paulson mentioned in his Tweeters posting on the 11th of July at Horn Rapids Dam. As he mentioned in his posting this is a very significant find considering it has not been seen in Washington since 1971/1972 and is definitely a species that we wanted to see! Although there are far,far less dragonfly searchers in Washington than birders this species could have been around at this location or another more remote location along the Yakima River undetected until now so it makes the sighting even that much more special! We observed and photographed this prize dragonfly both days of our nice visit to Horn Rapids,despite very warm,sweltering conditions and because of the "heat" this area seems to be a good location for dragonflies. It is a dragonfly that you could overlook it if you didn't know what you were looking at,but given it's distinctive field marks and overall size and keen eyes it can be picked out. We spent 3 hours yesterday before locating the 1st of 4 specimens,as it is species that seemed to favor the hot gravel and rocks above the edges of the immediate river rather than vegetation. It was a spectacular achievement for us in locating this rare species of Washington so perhaps it may continue to remain at just a few favored locations within the lower Columbia Basin. Away from the White-belted Ringtail and 14 other dragonflies species we also added Western River Cruiser to our personal dragonfly list,which was also nice! We spent most of our trip within the Horn Rapids area including a few visits to the Horn Rapids Park and along the immediate Yakima River up and shortly downstream from Horn Rapids Dam with some noteworthy bird species observed too including the following:

15 Am.White Pelicans
1 Great Egret(observed at Horn Rapids Dam on the 14th)
7-8 Black-crowned Night Herons
1 Hooded Merganser
4 Common Mergansers
1 Osprey
5 Spotted Sandpipers
25 Long-billed Curlews(observed together flying south just north of Horn Rapids Park on the 14th,then circling back to the north and continuing northward towards the Hanford area,which seemed to be a nice flock and our largest flock of this species in eastern WA)
1 Least Sandpiper(foraging on floating vegetation near 2 Spotted Sandpipers on the 13th along the Yakima River just below the Horn Rapids Dam)
2 Forster's Terns(foraging together at Horn Rapids Dam on the 13th with Caspian Terns and California/Ring-billed Gulls nearby)
5 Common Nighthawks
2 Belted Kingfishers
2 Western Wood Pewees(observed at Horn Rapids Park on the 14 and could be breeding)
7 Eastern Kingbirds
3 Bewick's Wrens
2 Gray Catbirds
4 Northern Mockingbirds(2 adults and 2 juveniles on both days,as reported previously by other observers at Horn Rapids Park)
1 Yellow-breasted Chat(briefly observed and heard calling in thick,shrubbery below Horn Rapids Dam on the 13th)
1 Black-headed Grosbeak
10 Bullock's Orioles

We also managed to check the Walla Walla River Delta on both days that yielded some additional highlights with good amounts of mudflats on the 13th,but rising water noted during our early morning visit today before 7am. Highlights noted at this location included the following:

2 Clark's Grebes(with 2 Western Grebes)
42 Am.White Pelicans
4 Black-crowned Night Herons
5 Northern Pintails
6 Am.Wigeons
1 Semipalmated Plover
1 Long-billed Curlew(juvenile bird present on the 13th only with an adult at this location on 18th of June)
2 Semipalmated Sandpipers
140 Western Sandpipers
88+ Least Sandpipers
1 Short-billed Dowitcher(observed with 30 Long-billed Dowitchers on the 13th only,as it gave it's distinctive "tu-tu-tu" call on 2 separate occasions)
1 Western Gull(1 adult bird present with large numbers of California Gulls on the 14th only and quite possibly the same individual than noted by Mike and MerryLynn Denny at this location on the 10th)
1 Barn Owl(personal record for this location)
5+ Common Nighthawks
3+ Black-headed Grosbeaks

Other highlights observed during the trip at other selected locations included the following:

7 Forster's Terns along Hwy.12 at the McNary NWR,Walla Walla Co.
1 Swainson's Hawk along S.R.243 near the Vernita Bridge,Grant Co.

Reptile highlight of the trip:

7-8 Sagebrush Lizards near Horn Rapids Park on the 14th(which represented a personal new reptile species for us)

Mammal highlights of the trip:

2 Coyotes including 1 along I-90 east of Ellensburg on the 13th and 1 near Horn Rapids Park on the 14th
1 Raccoon roosting in a tree along the Yakima River below Horn Rapids Dam

Good birding,

Ruth and Patrick Sullivan
godwit at worldnet.att.net

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