[Tweeters] 5/30/08 Moses Coulee

pslott VariedThrush at comcast.net
Wed Jun 4 20:36:30 PDT 2008

Hi Tweeters,
6/3/08, Tuesday
5/30/08 I was truly sorry that neither Alan nor Gina could join me on a
beautiful May day in Moses Coulee. The mouth of the coulee on Palisades
Rd. was a bit windy for really great birding, but I picked up lots of
WESTERN KINGBIRDS singing and displaying, a favorite species, plus the
usual meadowlark, raven, magpie, kestrel, blackbirds, etc. The coulee
was chock full of breeding behavior. Just before I pulled into the
Hungate Canyon parking lot, I saw a stunning male BULLOCK’S ORIOLE in
the trees by a roadside house.
Hungate Canyon: The delightful walk through this cozy little canyon
produced ROCK WREN singing up a storm and a lovely ear- and eyeful of
LAZULI BUNTING, with my first SAY’S PHOEBES of the day. I missed canyon
wren here and during the day, possibly because of wind.
Douglas Creek gave me a gorgeous male NORTHERN HARRIER, AMERICAN
GOLDFINCH, and my first Two-tailed Tiger Swallowtail of the trip. I took
the road up for the view of the coulee and was not disappointed. Imagine
the waters gushing through this huge corridor, leaving slabs of basalt
lying about like so much sheared off spaghetti. On the bottom, I don’t
think about it so much, but above I shudder with gratitude that I wasn’t
there at the time.
Palisades Road going east? It’s difficult to stop along this portion of
road, whatever its name; however, I did manage with a handy side roadlet
after watching two GOLDEN EAGLES come in for a landing with their golden
legs fully extended in display. Watching them survey their kingdom from
the top of this north-facing cliff, I again wondered at the fact that
they were really sitting on the ground and I was watching from this
enormous crevasse, a rift in the face of the earth torn open by volcanic
action and megaflooding. At their feet, in the green pastures and trees
surrounding me were many passerines, dominated by brilliant CASSIN’S
FINCH, with ROCK PIGEONS making an honest living and WHITE-THROATED
SWIFTS appearing as my eyes found the eagles again.
The trailhead further east was gated shut with serious barbed wire to
keep out motorists. I noticed a pretty fritillary here, but decided to
move on.
Above, on the wind worn surface of the planet, HORNED LARK and MOUNTAIN
BLUEBIRDS predominated.
Rimrock Estates road gave me what I came for as I stretched my legs and
walked far in on the road amongst the Big Sagebrush. VESPER SPARROW,
BREWER’S SPARROW, SAGE THRASHER, all over, plus the star that I sought,
SAGE SPARROW. I don’t know why, but it just doesn’t feel like a real
spring if I don’t get to see and hear this wonderful bird. I was
confused many years ago by someone teaching me only the song of interior
nevadensis, when all I ever seem to hear and see are our much more
striking coastal belli.
Nature Conservancy’s “Moses Coulee Field Station” just south of the
junction with Hwy. 2. I would’ve driven in to check this out, but I was
running short of time. Does anyone know if birding is allowed here?
Jameson Lake Road was worth the drive and added REDHEAD, CINNAMON TEAL,
However, I was running too late now to go down Dutch Henry Draw. Gotta
leave something for next time. I hightailed it up to Tonasket for the

Patricia S. Lott
Seattle, WA
mail to: VariedThrush at comcast.net

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