[Tweeters] E. Wash. Pilgrimages
hrudkajm at hotmail.com
Wed Apr 5 15:40:45 PDT 2006
Looks like I'm not the only one taking an early season pilgrimage to eastern
WA via Cle Elum, Old Vantage Hwy, Birder's Corners, Othello and Lower Crab
Creek Rd. I left before sunrise Tuesday and began counting species as soon
as it was light enough to make an ID. Sure is a challenge to be going over
Snoqualmie pass alone, trying to ID birds, drive and make notes at 65mph.
Years of practice helps. My total for 12 hours of birding Tuesday and 3
hours today was 80 birds.
I found one tri-colored bird at the grain silo on the north end of Othello
just past the smelly potato processing plants. Not having seen one before
it was a joy, such richness in its black. Great egrets were present at Para
Ponds just north of Othello along with a smattering of ducks and lots of
coots. A killdeer was observed in a beak to beak with a yellow-headed
blackbird that came too close, the killdeer won.
The county line ponds west of Othello were packed with Canada geese and
sandhill cranes last evening. This morning at 6:20am a lot of the Canada
geese were gone but present were at least 15 greater white-fronted geese.
The single avocet had become three by this morning, joining a black-necked
stilt. Other than what may have been western sandpipers only a greater
yellow-legs filled out the shorebird roster.
Tuesday, late afternoon, Birder's Corner on Dodson Rd. was an amazing place
to be. Redheads and canvasback ducks were within amazingly close viewing
distance. Being right next to one another it was a good visual to see their
distinctive but similar markings. Northern rough-wing swallows darted about
while six tundra swans either slept or preened. Several black-necked stilts
delicately waded about.
One of the main reasons I go to Othello this time of year, besides the
sandhill cranes, is to see the burrowing owls. Their burrows are marked on
my DeLorme's map, for all time. Their feisty postures are intimidating, to
a grasshopper perhaps. It's always good to find them back in the same place
The Cle Elum area was rich in western bluebirds, nuthatches (all three
species - pygmy a lifer for me), hawks and kestrals, and ravens big enough
to make small children shivver. I've never seen so many ravens as I saw
this past two days. Is it me or do the ravens east of the Cascades seem
bigger than the ones we have over here? I dipped on the white-headed
woodpeckers and WIlliamson sapsuckers, oh well...
Mountain bluebirds have taken up residence in the boxes along Old Vantage
Hwy. Three pairs were quite vocal both Tuesday and early today. Near their
boxes the spring wildflowers are just coming into bloom and are beautiful.
I saw the tail end of a sage thrasher not too far from the bluebirds. Sage
sparrows were not seen but heard, like good little children.
I don't imagine I'm the only one that went east for birds and sunshine. But
I see it's sunnier here than it is east of the mountains. Oh well, at least
the birds were plentiful and the flowers beautiful.
hrudkajm at hotmail.com
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