[Tweeters] Para Ponds today - please read this

Randy Hill hill at smwireless.net
Tue Apr 21 20:01:28 PDT 2009

Nothing new to report today although the White-crowned Sparrows really
poured into the back yard and the Western Kingbirds filled lots of empty

So, the Para Ponds just NW of Othello. Everybody coming through Othello
stops there. No good parking but exceptional views of lots of waterfowl,
shorebirds, blackbirds, etc. This morning before reaching the ponds I saw a
vehicle parked along the road; unfortunately the occupant was 40 yards past
the fence getting photos of the stilts and Bonaparte's Gulls fluttering
across the water. The first thing that came to mind was: did he have
permission? About that time the landowner was driving into town and we
acknowledged each other. Within 2 minutes I had a call on my cell phone.
The tone of the message was "I hope your birder friend knows that he had to
go past a no trespassing sign to get there." I let him listen to the voice
mail. This is private property. The landowner is not opposed to birders
viewing the birds that use his property, but this photographer had to climb
over a recently repaired fence to get there. There is no trespass posting on
both sides. Access is a privilege, not a right. When I told this
photographer where the landowner lives to ask permission there was
indication he wouldn't be doing it this year. A missed opportunity for an

When I called the landowner back we had a long discussion. I asked him
directly about how he felt about access to the old potato settling ponds to
the south. He was concerned about some negative feedback he has gotten for
grazing on his own land, and how some enviros have pursued issues with Dept
of Ecology. But he also told me that anyone going in there has to cross
McCain Potato property first. He has an easement through them to access his
property to the west, and as far as I know only Bob Flores and I have been
given permission to use his easement. Bottom line is you are trespassing on
him if you cross the fence from McManamon Road and you are trespassing on
McCain if you go past the gate onto the dikes for the settling ponds.
Unless you have permission.

I hope to approach McCain about access. They have not been unreasonable
even after a water quality lawsuit forced closure of the ponds and nearly
$10M in wastewater management improvements. They have not allowed any
vehicles onto the dikes after theft of materials from their boneyard. My
suggestion is do not enter on foot either until access permission is
granted. Even those of you that have always gone in on foot.

On a similar note, I have had many requests for locations to photograph
Burrowing Owls. My answer this year has been there are no owls that I know
of close enough to photograph them in a safe manner. I am aware of several
instances where the owls along the drainage ditch north of Sutton Road were
photographed from the west on a private road, and some were after I
explained it was private property. When I surveyed BUOW in 2006 I secured
permission from the irrigation district to drive their canal roads, but only
with additional permission of the landowners whose property they crossed.
Even the irrigation district requires permission from the landowner, and for
official purposes only. Can we please be responsible?! Two BUOW locations
that I know of are close enough to photograph and on roads that are not
heavily travelled. The old faithful Lemaster Road site appears deserted,
but on the east side of the road (Lemaster between Cunningham and Lee Roads)
just north of a hay stack there is an occupied burrow very close, in front
of the field ditch. I suggest viewing southbound from Lee Road in the
afternoon light. Another burrow east of Moses Lake is south of Road 4 east
of P NE (a mile north of Wheeler Road) where some irrigation piping is

This message took so long to compose that a FOY Nashville Warbler made an
appearance in the back yard.

Randy Hill


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