[Tweeters] Yakima Canyon -- Wenas/Umtanum Rd (long)

Paul Webster paul.webster at comcast.net
Mon Jun 27 14:29:12 PDT 2005

Hi Tweets,

On Sunday, June 26, Barbara and I co-led a Seattle Audubon fieldtrip on the "big loop" from Ellensburg down Yakima Canyon and back via Wenas/Umtanum Road (DeLorme pp. 50-51). The participants included several seasoned birders whose sharp eyes and ears led to a list of 86 species. Cool foggy weather on the west side gave way to sunshine and scattered clouds at Easton, and most of the trip took place under largely sunny skies with temperatures peaking in the low 80s.

We left the Issaquah Park and Ride at 6:15 am and made our first stop at Gold Creek where the group found 20 species, including Black Swift, Yellow, Yellow-rumped, Townsend's, MacGillivray's, and Wilson's Warblers. Some of the group saw a Dark-eyed Junco parent feeding a larger juvenile Brown-headed Cowbird. The Stampede Pass Road proved slow but we added Vaux's Swift and American Dipper. In a short stop at the sand pile in Easton we had a fly-by of two Ospreys, plus Rock and Band-tailed Pigeon, Bank Swallow, Steller's Jay, Purple Finch, House Finch, Pine Siskin, and Evening Grosbeak.

We birded along Ringer Loop Road south of Ellensburg next, and Joyce Meyer got a Virginia Rail to come to the edge of the vest-pocket marsh for good views, while a family of 3 Wilson's Snipe flew back and forth across the road. In the riparian area by the Yakima River we found Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Western Wood-Pewee, Tree Swallow, Cedar Waxwing, House Wren, Yellow Warbler, Wilson's Warbler, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Black-headed Grosbeak, Bullock's Oriole parents visiting their nest, American Goldfinch and -- Brown-headed Cowbird.

Our walk across the suspension bridge and up along Umtanum Creek featured the singing of about six each of Lazuli Buntings and Yellow-breasted Chat. We found an adult Cooper's Hawk perched close to a juvenile, a perfect demonstration of their plumage differences. Mike West located American Kestrels and a young Prairie Falcon perched on the rimrock, and Barbara found two Canyon Wrens and a Rock Wren on the canyon walls. After a picnic lunch we left the canyon and drove to Wenas Lake, spotting three Swainson's Hawks underway. At the lake cattle grazed on the shore, surrounded by Killdeer, Spotted and Least Sandpipers, and Red-winged Blackbirds. On Maloy Road we had excellent views of a Gray Flycatcher and a Pygmy Nuthatch.

Clouds gathered around 4:30 pm as we drove north along Umtanum Road, the temperature cooled into the mid-70s, and the birds became more active. We saw Red-tailed Hawks, California Quail, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, at least four Lewis's Woodpeckers near Observatory Road, Townsend's Solitaire, Mountain Chickadee, Common Raven, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, Chipping Sparrow, Versper Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Bullock's Oriole, Brown-headed Cowbird, House Finch, and American Goldfinch. Midway along the road a Western Bluebird emerged from Box 45 as we passed, so the report we heard that a White-headed Woodpecker was nesting there is inaccurate.

We made a last, brief stop at the Umtanum Falls trailhead, finding Red-naped Sapsucker, a Western Wood-Pewee on her ill-concealed nest, House Wren, and a half-dozen American Robins. On the road we slowed for good views of four Loggerhead Shrikes and a Sage Thrasher. Then we had only to deal with heavy traffic on I-90 and deteriorating weather for the trip back to cloudy, cool drizzle on the west side of the Cascades. We arrived back at our starting point about 8:30 pm. As Barbara and I drove home over the West Seattle Bridge a Peregrine Falcon perched on the west tower, a fitting end to a fine trip.

Species seen: 86

Great Blue Heron -- three seen
Common Merganser -- 1 female in the Yakima River
Turkey Vulture -- 1 near the Easton exit from I-90
Osprey -- 1 at Cle Elum; 2 at Easton; 1 over Yakima Canyon
Cooper's Hawk -- 2 near Umtanum Creek
Swainson's Hawk -- 3 dark phase birds along N Wenas Rd
Red-tailed Hawk -- 4+ seen today
American Kestrel -- 12+ at various sites
Prairie Falcon -- 1 young bird flying about over Umtanum Creek
Peregrine Falcon -- 1 adult in West Seattle
California Quail -- 6 at south end of Ringer Loop & along Umtanum Rd
Virginia Rail -- 1 in Ringer Loop marsh
Killdeer -- 8+ on Ringer Loop Rd & at Wenas Lake
Wilson's Snipe -- 3 on Ringer Loop
Spotted Sandpiper -- 2 at Wenas Lake
Least Sandpiper -- 5 at Wenas Lake
Rock Pigeon -- 8+ in shack in Easton; also at farm on Wenas Rd
Band-tailed Pigeon -- 3+ at Gold Creek; at least 2 at Easton
Mourning Dove -- 8+ at Easton, Ringer Loop, and Umtanum Rds
Common Nighthawk -- 1 at Umtanum Creek; 1 on Umtanum Rd
Black Swift -- at least 2 over treetops at Gold Creek
Vaux's Swift -- 4+ seen at Gold Creek & over Yakima River
Rufous Hummingbird -- 1 male perched at Gold Creek
Belted Kingfisher -- 1 over Yakima River, 1 at Wenas Lake
Lewis's Woodpecker -- 4+ seen on Umtanum Rd
Red-naped Sapsucker -- 2 near Umtanum Falls trailhead
Downy Woodpecker -- 2 on Ringer Loop; 1 at Umtanum Creek
Northern Flicker -- 1 on Ringer Loop; 1 by Yakima River; 1 on Umtanum Rd
Western Wood-Pewee -- 20+ seen and/or heard at various sites
Gray Flycatcher -- 1 on Maloy Rd
Say's Phoebe -- 1 on Ringer Loop
Western Kingbird -- 10+ along North Wenas Rd
Eastern Kingbird -- 1 along Wenas Rd; 1 along Umtanum Rd
Tree Swallow --
Violet-green Swallow
Bank Swallow -- 2 seen briefly in Easton
Cliff Swallow -- 10+ at Gold Creek
Barn Swallow --
Cedar Waxwing -- 1 at Gold Cr; 1 at Ringer Loop; 1 by Umtanum Cr
American Dipper -- 1 at Stampede Pass Rd bridge over Yakima River
Rock Wren -- 1 singing on rimrock at Umtanum Creek
Canyon Wren -- 2 at nest in rocks above Umtanum Creek
Sage Thrasher -- 1 seen on Umtanum Rd near Ellensburg Pass
Western Bluebird -- 12+ seen on Maloy and Umtanum Rds
Townsend's Solitaire -- 2 seen on Umtanum Rd
Swainson's Thrush -- 1 at Gold Cr; 1 at Swamp Cr on Stampede Pass Rd
American Robin -- 20+ seen at various sites
Black-capped Chickadee -- At least 2 at Ringer Loop
Mountain Chickadee -- at least 3 on Umtanum Rd
Chestnut-backed Chickadee -- 1 seen at Gold Creek
Pygmy Nuthatch -- 1 on Maloy Rd, 1 on Umtanum Rd
Red-breasted Nuthatch -- 1 at Gold Creek, 1 on Stampede Pass Rd
Loggerhead Shrike -- 4 on Umtanum Rd near Ellensburg Pass
Steller's Jay -- 1 heard at Gold Creek; 2 at Easton; also on Umtanum Rd
Black-billed Magpie -- 6+ at various sites
American Crow -- 10+ seen
Common Raven -- 7+ seen
European Starling
Warbling Vireo -- 6+ at Gold Creek, Stampede Pass Rd, Umtanum Creek
Yellow Warbler -- heard at Gold Cr; 1 on Ringer Loop, 1 at Umtanum Cr
Yellow-rumped Warbler -- 2 Audubon's form at Gold Creek
Townsend's Warbler -- 1 heard at Gold Cr; 1 seen at Stampede Pass Rd
MacGillivray's Warbler -- 1 at Gold Cr; 1 heard at Stampede Pass Rd
Wilson's Warbler -- 1 heard at Gold Cr; 1 seen on Ringer Loop
Yellow-breasted Chat -- 6+ along Umtanum Creek
Western Tanager -- 2 at Ringer Loop Rd; 2 along Umtanum Rd
Spotted Towhee -- 1 at Ringer Loop Rd; 1 along Umtanum Rd
Chipping Sparrow -- 1 at Peoh Pt Rest Area; 1 along Umtanum Rd
Vesper Sparrow -- 1 young bird on Observatory Rd
Song Sparrow -- heard at Swamp Cr, Umtanum Cr, & Umtanum Falls trail
White-crowned Sparrow -- 1 heard at Gold Cr
Dark-eyed Junco -- 2+ at Gold Cr, also Umtanum Cr & Umtanum Rd
Black-headed Grosbeak -- 2 on Ringer Loop, 2+ along Umtanum Cr
Lazuli Bunting -- 6+ along Umtanum Creek
Red-winged Blackbird -- 30+ at Ringer Loop & Wenas Lake
Western Meadowlark -- 1 along North Wenas Rd
Yellow-headed Blackbird -- 2 at Ringer Loop Marsh
Brewer's Blackbird -- 20+ on Ringer Loop, N Wenas Rd, Maloy Rd
Brown-headed Cowbird -- 8+ at Gold Creek; Ringer Loop, Umtanum Rds
Bullock's Oriole -- 8+ at Ringer Loop, Umtanum Creek, Umtanum Rd
Purple Finch -- 2 at Easton
House Finch -- 6+ at Easton, Umtanum Creek, and Umtanum Rd
Pine Siskin -- 1 seen at Easton
American Goldfinch -- 10+ at Ringer Loop, Umtanum Cr, Wenas Lake
Evening Grosbeak -- 8+ at Easton
House Sparrow -- seen at Easton and Ringer Loop

Paul Webster

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