[Tweeters] Long-weekend birding in Benton, Walla Walla, Columbia, Frankin co [long]

mattxyz at earthlink.net mattxyz at earthlink.net
Mon Sep 1 20:59:26 PDT 2008


Hi Tweeters & INWBers -

I took advantage of the long weekend to head over the mountains --
despite some travel glitches, it was great few days.

SATURDAY, 8/30 Benton Co, mostly

I woke up Saturday morning, having spent the night in the car near
Crow Butte Park, along the Columbia River in western Benton Co. Crow
Butte & Whitcomb Island looked promising, but not too much was
popping up when I wandered around, so headed east to the Patterson
Unit of the Umatilla NWR - Driving west from the Christy rd entrance,
I found a great muddy lake with shorebirds to scope: In the pond
were: BLACK-NECKED STILT, AMERICAN AVOCET, LESSER YELLOWLEGS,
WESTERN & LEAST SANDPIPERS, BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS [several], STILT
SANDPIPER [1] , LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER [~15], WILSON'S SNIPE, &
RED-NECKED PHALAROPE [~15] . Flying overhead around the pond were 2
BLACK TERNS.

I birded my way up from the Columbia to the Tri-cities, enjoying some
nice migrants, but not too much of excitement, except for a Walla
Walla Co. FRANKLIN'S GULL at the Walla Walla river delta.

My plan was to head up into the Blue mountains to camp for the night,
but a tire blowout 40 miles east of Walla Walla changed all that. I
drove back in to Walla Walla on the spare, opting to spend the night
in hotel with hopes I could find a Sunday tire repair place open.

SUNDAY, 8/31 Walla Walla, then Franklin, then Columbia

Sunday morning, before the Walmart tire shop opened, I birded for a
couple hours at Bennington Lake in Walla Walla - as with much of
Saturday, the birds were the 'regulars' with a few migrants thrown in
but nothing extraordinary - but it was great to spend some time
poking around one of those places more familiar from Tweeters posts
than personal experience.

I arrived at Walmart as the tire shop opened, only to find they
didn't have my tire size. With no other options in Walla Walla on a
Sunday, I opted to take drive back to the Tri-Cities, where Walmart
promised to have my tire at the Kennewick store.

It turned out to be a really fortuitous change of plans -- regardless
of overdriving my spare donut tire a good bit . As I got to the
Walla Walla River delta, I decided to stop again -- this time with
cooperative light . Out on the mud flats:

COMMON TERNS [3] - they were perched on some logs for a long while,
giving me good enough looks to be fairly confident of my id. Then, to
make life simple, they were joined by a

FORSTER'S TERN [1] -

Among the gulls, there was a HERRING and one FRANKLIN'S, in amongst
the RING-BILLED & CALIFORNIA herd.

On the shorebird front, I had 11 species wandering around the mud :

SEMIPALMATED PLOVER [2],
KILLDEER,
SOLITARY SANDPIPER [1]
GREATER YELLOWLEGS [1]
LESSER YELLOWLEGS [2] ,
WESTERN & LEAST SANDPIPERS
BAIRD'S SANDPIPER [~10],
LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER [6]
WILSON'S SNIPE [1]
RED-NECKED PHALAROPES [2]

While sorting through the shorebirds, first a VIRGINIA RAIL, then a
SORA came out briefly to wander the water's edge.

Throw in the AM.WHITE PELICANS, GREAT EGRETS and growing duck flocks,
and the stop proved pretty worthwhile for a detour!

Before getting on with tire issues, I made one more quick stop, to
the edge of Sacajewea State Park, along the Columbia, just inside
Franklin Co. There is a nice bike path that looks like it might be
worth exploring a while for Franklin Co water bird quests. There
wasn't much out on the water when I pulled in, but a couple of
goldfinches distracted me when they landed next to me -- I took a
second look: LESSER GOLDFINCH! I believe that's a county first for
Franklin Co - yay.

Back on the road after the tire change, I decided to spend the last
couple hours of daylight up in the Blue Mountains, hoping for some
Columbia Co birds. [En route I did stop to see a EURASIAN COLLARED
DOVE in Prescott, Walla Walla]. I took Skyline Drive up to the area
around & just beyond Godman Campground. Much of this drive is in the
recent burn from a couple years ago, and boy are the woodpeckers out
in force.

I had AMERICAN 3-TOED WOODPECKERS at 3 different stops, and heard
lots of scraping at most stops that indicated there were probably
plenty more around.
Just beyond Godman Springs Campsite, I tracked down more scraping
sounds and found a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER -- as I watched it, I
noticed that bark was falling on its head -- I looked further up in
the tree and there was another 3-Toed Woodpecker, flaking away the
bark directly above the Black-backed - Nice tree!

Before moving on, I also happened across a NORTHERN GOSHAWK, cruising
around the road at dusk

It was getting cold and the skies didn't look too promising, so I
decided to head to lower ground for the night.

On the way down, just after sunset, I came across a COMMON POORWILL
at about mp 18.5 on FR 46. I stopped for a bit to see if I could
find any more -- no luck on that , but I did have a BARN OWL come
cruising through. A GREAT HORNED OWL down closer to Dayton rounded
out the evening.

MONDAY, 9/1 -Franklin & Adams morning
I slept near Lyons Ferry, and spent the first couple hours of the
morning at Lyons Ferry Park chasing migrants. Wandering around, I
came across:
WILSON'S WARBLER - the almost the most common warbler of the day
-outnumbered by Yellow-rumps, barely.
TOWNSEND'S WARBLER - 2-3
YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER - 30+
MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER - 1-2
NASHVILLE WARBLER - 2
YELLOW WARBLER - a handful
WARBLING VIREOS - 5-10
WESTERN TANAGER - 2-3
LINCOLN'S SPARROW - several
OLIVE-SIDED WARBLER - 1
GREAT-HORNED OWL - 1
COOPER'S HAWK - chasing first Mourning Doves, then Ring-necked Pheasants!

A brief stop at Palouse Falls State Park, added WHITE-THROATED
SWIFTS, DUSKY FLYCATCHER, more Wilson's Warblers, and a couple
RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH.

Nest, I headed up to Bassett Park, in Washtucna [Adams Co]. It was
late for the main migrant show, but there was still plenty about -
hopefully there will be some other reports from Washtucna soon, as
the place was full of birds:
All the same suite of warblers as at Lyons Ferry were present, as
were : PACIFIC-SLOPED FLYCATCHER, GRAY FLYCATCHER , several
unidentified empids, RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS, and one CASSIN'S VIREO in
amongst the many WARBLING VIREOS. Oh, and EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVES all
over the place.

My final stop before driving home was at the Hatton Rest Stop [Adams]
where the nearly dry sewage pond held:
BAIRDS SANDPIPER
WESTERN SANDPIPER
SEMIPALMATED PLOVER
and Killdeer.

All in all, a great weekend, with the car problems leading to even
better birds.

Matt Bartels
Seattle, WA






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