[Tweeters] Five Woodpecker Day

Carol Riddell cariddell at earthlink.net
Tue Jun 2 23:16:34 PDT 2009


Sunday evening I drove to Wenas campground, hoping that this will be
the summer of a Flammulated Owl for me. Driving over Ellensburg Pass
about 8:30 p.m., there were still Mountain and Western Bluebirds out
and about. I flushed a Dusky Grouse but saw no tell-tale eyes of the
Common Poorwill. But bats were out and active and that is always
thrilling to see. When I pulled into the campground I drove directly
to the back gate. I knew it was going to be a dip on the owl because
as soon as I got out of the car I heard that I was "two owl hoots
past sundown." Two Great Horned Owls were calling persistently and
continued until after 10. I was able to get a visual on one of them
and they were both in the area I had been told has been reliable for
Flammulated Owl. I figured the Great Horneds had filled up the owl
space. Then I whipped out the trusty iPod only to find that it had
not completely shut down from its use on Saturday night. It was as
dead as an Eastern Gray Squirrel flattened on an arterial. Once the
Great Horneds moved their discussion to another part of the hills, I
tried to remember what the Flam sounds like and tried my best (or
worst) imitation. No response. Okay, you ask, so what of the five
woodpecker day? That was Monday.

I got up at 5 a.m., after a night in the car at the back of the
campground. Most of the dawn chorus consisted of Robins, Spotted
Towhees, and Crows. Was this Wenas or my suburban neighborhood? I
ate breakfast and waited a while. Steller's Jays showed up. I
wandered west along the creek and encountered two Spotted Sandpipers,
then a Vesper Sparrow, and several Red-naped Sapsuckers (Woodpecker
#1). Then the Western Wood Pewees started appearing. Oh, and a lone
Vaux's Swift made a few rounds and then disappeared. I headed to the
bridge at the campground entrance where I picked up Brewer's
Blackbirds, Mourning Doves, and Barn Swallows. Then I explored
deeper in the campground along Wenas Creek where I found a Swainson's
Thrush and many Cedar Waxwings. I wondered where the warblers and
vireos were as I had seen none.

I drove out of the campground, heading back in the direction of Wenas
Road and decided to stop at the flooded area near the yellow gate at
the county road end. There I picked up Northern Flicker, Pileated
Woodpecker, and Lewis's Woodpecker (Woodpeckers ## 2, 3, and 4).
Other birds there included Orange-crowned Warbler, Gray Flycatcher,
Gray Catbird, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow,
American Goldfinch, Black-headed Grosbeak, Raven, and Cedar Waxwing.
On Maloy Road I added Starling, Say's Phoebe, Western Meadowlark,
Bullock's Oriole, and House Sparrow to my trip list list.

I stopped at YVA Bluebird Box 63 to check out the area for Ash-
throated Flycatcher. I sighted none but added Cassin's Finch and
Yellow Warbler to the list. At the Umtanum Falls trail I added
Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Turkey Vulture, Song Sparrow, House
Wren, and Kestrel, among other species seen. By then it was 1:30
p.m. and hot. Bird movement was really tapering off so I headed for
home. A quick stop at Alpental yielded a Downy (Woodpecker #5).

So while I dipped one more time on the Flam, standing alone under a
waxing moon, watching and listening to the serious discussion of the
Great Horned Owls felt pretty darned nice. And any five woodpecker
day that includes a Lewis's is alright by me.

Carol Riddell

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