[Tweeters] Lesser Black-backed Gull on Alkali Lake-4 Nov.

Andy Stepniewski steppie at nwinfo.net
Tue Nov 6 06:17:12 PST 2007

Hi All,

Seven Yakima Auduboners trekked north to the Grand Coulee, enjoying fine
fall weather, breezy in the morning but warm, calm, and brilliantly clear in
the afternoon. Our first stop was at Soap Lake. The big surprise here was a
flock of 20 SNOW BUNTINGS flying along the southwest shore. I've never
encountered this species in this area at valley bottom elevations. Perhaps
the brisk north wind blew these beautiful birds off course. Dunlin were
still about, maybe 15 in all. Ruddy Ducks, Northern Shovelers, and Eared
Grebes were the common waterfowl on the lake. The northwest side yielded
another treat: two Surf Scoters.

Moving north, we found lots of gulls (200) attending coots on Alkali Lake.
Most were Herring, with a few California, Ring-billed, Bonaparte's,
Glaucous-winged, and Thayer's. The best bird here was an adult
LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL, maybe the same bird that was here this spring?

Again moving north, we found a few AMERICAN TREE SPARROWS in the area of
rank grass, cattails, and Russian olives reached by walking south along a
dirt track from 0.4 mile along the Steamboat Rock State Park access road
from SR-155.

Bruce wanted a close view of Thayer's Gull so we checked the booms at
Electric City and found a "not quite right" Thayers so we moved along to the
booms behind Grand Coulee Dam where Denny first found two very clear adult
THAYER'S, making this a very good day for gulls hereabouts. A half dozen
DOUBLE-CRESTED CORMORANTS, were on the booms too, a relative newcomer to the
northern Columbia Basin. It, like Eurasian Collared Doves, are both species
epanding their range.

We reached Brook Lake west of Wilson Creek at sunset and found surprisingly
few geese. I suspect the mild weather we've been enjoying has not sent the
really big numbers of geese our way yet. At this season, the lake often
hosts geese. We did note a few Cackling and one Greater White-fronted Goose
so it was a good finale.

Andy Stepniewski
Wapato WA
steppie at nwinfo.net

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