[Tweeters] Eastern Washington Birding, part 2 (7/30/05)

Michael Woodruff crazybirder98 at hotmail.com
Sun Jul 31 23:20:00 PDT 2005


Continued from part 1...

After waking up with the sun on Saturday (7/30/05) at Potholes State Park, I
walked around a little to see what was around. In the campground, there
were BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEES, MAGPIES, COWBIRDS, GOLDFINCHES,
and BANK SWALLOWS. I found a trail that went out from site #85 to a little
inlet and beach. There I was able to see 2 CASPIAN TERNS, 40 RING-BILLED
GULLS, 1 FORSTER'S TERN, 20 WESTERN GREBES, 18 KILLDEER, 2 SPOTTED
SANDPIPERS, 1 BLACK-NECKED STILT, and 1 BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERON. We heard
a DOWNY WOODPECKER but weren't able to locate it.

My dad and I made another stop at Perch Point in hopes that something else
had come in over night. The birds were mostly the same, with FORSTER'S TERN
-6, WESTERN SANDPIPER -30, LEAST SANDPIPER -8, SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER -1,
many KILLDEER, 1 SEMIPALMATED PLOVER, and 3 GREATER YELLOWLEGS. Added to
yesterday's birds were 1 GREAT EGRET, 1 BAIRD'S SANDPIPER at close range,
and a PECTORAL SANDPIPER. We had very good views of this last one as it
preened on an opposite shore in good light before it flew off to the north
and out of sight. I believe this is quite early for this species.

Columbia NWR held some more good birds, starting with a ROCK WREN as we
drove in. At Soda Lake Dam overlooking Migraine Lake, we noted KILLDEER -4,
SPOTTED SANDPIPER -2, GREATER YELLOWLEGS -1, BLACK-NECKED STILT -1,
BONAPARTE'S GULL -1, and N ROUGH-WINGED, CLIFF, BANK, and BARN SWALLOWS.
Shortly after, back on the main road, we saw 2 BUFFLEHEAD and 6 WOOD DUCKS,
among many MALLARDS. In a small draw with a creek, there was a female
COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, and a nearby LAZULI BUNTING, and farther along there
was a family of CANYON WRENS in the rocks.

We stopped at Para Ponds and the McCain's Potato Ponds (not sure which is
which :-) ), where we observed BLACK-NECKED STILTS -36, GREATER YELLOWLEGS
-2, SPOTTED SANDPIPER -2 LEAST SANDPIPER -1, KILLDEER -15, AMERICAN WHITE
PELICAN -18, and PIED-BILLED GREBE -1. About 50 LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS flew
up and to the north just after we arrived, giving their distinctive call
notes.

Driving on down through Franklin County, we stopped to look at a couple
juvenile SWAINSON'S HAWKS on RD 170. A quick stop at Ringold yielded
BULLOCK'S ORIOLES, EASTERN KINGBIRDS, CASPIAN TERN -4, RING-BILLED and
CALIFORNIA GULLS, SPOTTED SANDPIPERS -2, and another NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED
SWALLOW.

As we drove in to Horn Rapids County Park near Richland (Benton County), we
were surprised to see 10 COMMON NIGHTHAWKS roosting mostly on the telephone
wires. This is the first time we've seen this strange perching site, but it
sure seems to be routine here! Only 1 NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD "greeted" us
where we saw 2 a month ago. No fledglings were in sight. We saw a CASPIAN
TERN chasing a DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANT over the Yakima River.

A big disappointment, the Yakima River Delta proved to have too high a water
level to support any shorebirds. As we continued east on 240, we were
privileged to see one of the racing boats (part of some big race going on)
out on the Columbia River. Although we were going highway speed, it passed
us going the same direction as if we were stopped, spraying water high into
the air whenever it turned! It was pretty cool to see one in real-life!

We made a stop at milepost 300 on Hwy 12 to check out the pond described in
the Opperman guide. There were a good number of birds to be seen: WESTERN
SANDPIPERS -100, LONG-BILLED DOWITCHERS -30, GREATER YELLOWLEGS -2, LESSER
YELLOWLEGS -4, WILSON'S PHALAROPE -2, RED-NECKED PHALAROPE -2, KILLDEER -7,
and BLACK-NECKED STILTS -2 made up the shorebird population, while WOOD DUCK
-4, NORTHERN SHOVELER -1, and BLACK TERN -1 also were observed.

The Iowa Dodd/Beef (Tyson) Ponds also had good activity from 3pm-3:45. We
saw LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER -35, LESSER YELLOWLEGS -4, GREATER YELLOWLEGS -1,
WESTERN SANDPIPER -85, WILSON'S PHALAROPE -4, AMERICAN AVOCET -19,
BLACK-NECKED STILT -13, SPOTTED SANDPIPER -3, KILLDEER -9, RING-BILLED GULL
-450, and CALIFORNIA GULL -4 juvs. The water was confined basically to the
last pond, which is where almost all the birds were. It was very hot as we
stared through the shorebirds, and we had sweat dripping down our backs from
the effort. ^_^

The Walla Walla River Delta was also too high to accomodate shorebirds, at
least where we looked. But there were some AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS out
there. A quick stop at Madame Dorian Park gave us our only ORANGE-CROWNED
WARBLER of the trip.

We drove Touchet-Gardena Rd south of Touchet in hopes of some raptors, but
all we saw was 1 SWAINSON'S HAWK and RED-TAILED HAWKS. As we drove north on
Last Chance Road, we came to a tall bank at the side of the road, where we
spotted a BARN OWL laying down inside one of the larger holes. There were
also many BANK SWALLOWS here.

We drove on through Walla Walla and Dixie, and started up Bisquit Ridge Rd,
where we spotted a BELTED KINGFISHER flying along beside us. At Tom Lamb's
hummingbird feeders, we were able to watch BLACK-CHINNED, RUFOUS, and
CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRDS coming to the feeders. There was one suspicious of
Broad-tailed, but it proved to be "just another Rufous". We had a great
time talking with Tom as we waited.

We decided to head on up Bisquit Ridge Road to see if we could find any
GREEN-TAILED TOWHEES. After a trek down the west slope of Bisquit Ridge, we
had heard a few calling at various distant locations. My dad got a fairly
good look of one in the bushes, but I missed out this time. We also saw a
bunch of SPOTTED TOWHEES, DUSKY FLYCATCHERS, LAZULI BUNTING, CEDAR WAXWING,
and a YELLOW WARBLER. We had some "fun" extracting the weed seeds from our
socks and shoes afterwards.

We retreated to Walla Walla where we spent the night at a friends house.
I'll continue in a 3rd and final post what we saw on the 31st.

Good birding!
Michael and Roger Woodruff
Spokane, WA

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