[Tweeters] WOS Conference Friday and Saturday

Kathy Andrich chukarbird at yahoo.com
Tue Jun 10 19:05:28 PDT 2008

Hi Tweeters,

The WOS conference in Walla Walla was a great time birding with people I sometimes only see at the conferences and meeting many new birders. I arrived home tonight after staying last night in Pasco.

I did not expect any lifers from this trip and was very pleased that Jim Danzenbaker found the Indigo Bunting and I was on his Friday trip and got some nice looks at it. Thank you Jim. At this point even with my notes the other main thing I remember about this trip was the bitter weather and that I was exhausted! I got some sleep Friday night.

On Saturday there was some miscommunication about a leader that could not be there to lead the Bluewood trip so since I was signed up for it anyway I offered to "pinch" lead the trip. I knew the birds wouldn't be a big problem even though I still get confused on the flycatchers and some of the warbler songs that I only hear for a limited number of months a year. Mike Denny thankfully gave me a quick overview of the route before we left. I am sure there may have been places we missed because I have never been to this part of the state but as best I can tell everyone had a great trip. Ironically I missed the best bird of the trip...first we went to Lewis and Clark State Park and birded both the picnic area and the campground. Fabulous place for spring nesters. Best bird for me there was a male Black-headed Grosbeak singing in the nest. His nest was about 8-10 feet off the ground in a supple shrub that swayed quite a bit in the wind. Then we drove
up to the gate to Bluewood Ski Resort. Everyone got good looks at a Townsend's Solitaire. We heard lots of warblers including Wilson's, Yellow-rumped, Townsend's and Nashville but had a hard time getting a look at them. There was a lot of snow up there but the pavement was bare. We were hoping to get up to the fresh snow for a picture of the group with white frosted trees in the background in June. Then we drove back down to Lewis and Clark for lunch and another walk around. We still had a lot of time to bird and all but one of us had not been able to get onto a Dixie/Biscuit Ridge trip. All were keen to see the Green-tailed Towhee including myself as it would be a state bird for me. We stopped at Tom Lambs amazing Hummingbird Crossing House in Dixie and ran into the real Dixie/Biscuit Ridge group, oops, but they were gracious and Tom was more than gracious, what a gentleman he is. They told us where to find the Towhee and we went up. I had
Mike McKinstry lead in his car because Sandy Stoner was with him. She had been on the trip on Friday and could help lead us to the Towhee. About a mile from the towhee spot Mike stopped quickly and asked us to back up which we did. This is where everyone but myself got to see a Great Gray Owl. It was perched and about the time I got my car door open it flew, not to be relocated. I might have seen a flash of wings, but... We got to the towhee spot and Sandy used her cool phone with bird songs loaded into it to play for the towhee and we got pretty good looks at one bird and heard it call back and forth with a second bird which we could also see perched up in the distance. Both the owl and the towhee were lifers for several people in the group.

Great day! I'll try to post Sunday/Monday tomorrow. But quickly though, best birds on the way was a flock of 116 (counted them three times, might have missed a few...) Redheads with one Greater Scaup in a large, quiet eddy off of the Snake River at Hood Park on the south side (? directionally challenged, but it is on the right side off of highway 12 going towards Walla Walla--the park has entrances on both sides of the road). The flock was about 80% drakes. On the way home by far the best birds was a migratory flock of Black Swifts near Wanapum Dam on Huntzinger Road near Vantage. I counted 36 at one point and got the impression there must have been at least twice as many as I could count. Although I am not a county lister I am aware the Columbia Rivier/Wanapum Lake divides two counties, the swifts were in both counties for those keeping those lists. One swift flew into point blank range practically while I was watching it in my bins. Awesome!!
Gotta love birding but gotta get some rest, too.

Roosting in Kent, near Lake Meridian
(chukarbird at yahoo dot com)

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