[Tweeters] E WA birds, and Des Moines Owl, Mar 7-8

Lynn & Carol Schulz linusq at worldnet.att.net
Mon Mar 9 11:38:30 PDT 2009


Hi Tweets:
I ventured over to Eastern WA this weekend, despite the bad snow predictions. Sat
morning the snow started falling at Kennydale Hill, and continued until I reached
Easton. I kept the radio on and heard about car crashes behind me on I-90. I drove
slowly over the pass. The plows were doing a good job of keeping the roads clear.
Over in E WA, it was sunny but there was a cold wind blowing. No birds to speak of
except ravens and a few American Kestrels as I traveled quickly toward Royal City on
hwy
26. I dropped down to Lower Crab Creek on E St which is the Red Rock Coulee Rd at a
bldg that says Whitman Bank. I finally started to see some birds. It was 1pm. At
Red Rock Coulee about 40 VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOWS were swooping about. I drove east on
Lower Crab Crk Rd, to a huge ranch down there. As I drove to the ranch there were a
couple of flocks of SANDHILL CRANES flying about. There were about 80 cranes in each
flock. It's great to hear their gargling calls again. I entered the ranch by
permission.
The almost 6 sq mile ranch includes 500 acres down on the creek flats. The rest is
sage brush up by hwy 26. All is managed for wildlife and hunting, and it's pretty
incredible. The lower area includes a 200 acre wetland. The folks have done a lot
of work to clear water areas of fragmities grasses and other noxious weeks. There
was
a lot of waterfowl including many GREEN-WINGED TEAL, a few N PINTAILS, a couple of
BALD
EAGLES, 2 N HARRIERS, many coots, and Canada Geese. The strong winds were keeping
down the
raptors. At the ranch there were at least 50 MOURNING DOVES. A male AMERICAN
KESTREL did not seem to mind the high winds. There were many V-G Swallows, and I
estimated that there were about 200 V-G Swallows in the area. The place reminded me
of Malheur especially when the birder/part owner said there were many mosquitoes down
there in the summer. :) The property extends back west to Red Rock Coulee Rd, and
extends north from Lower Crab Creek up onto the bluff by hwy 26. That is sagebrush
country.
The partners in the ranch manage the water in the wetland area, and lower it at times
to control the weeds. My birder guy host there are shorebirds there in migration.
He is trying to learn the shorebirds using a bird book. He is great a flying birds,
but not so great at shorebird ID.
I left at 3pm, and headed back up Red Rock Coulee. There were many V-G Swallows, an
American Kestrel, and 2 REDTAILED HAWKS. Then I headed over to Othello to visit the
now-famous Othello cemetery. I traveled east on hwy 26, continuing past the main
Othello turnoff to
about 1 or 2 miles before the hwy 17 jct. I turned left on Reynolds Rd, went about
3/4 mile and turned right on Cemetery Rd. Then you drive for about 2 miles out to
the flats where there is a big grove of evergreens. You are quite close to hwy 17.
Another birder was there and we did not see the White-winged Crossbills fly into the
spruce trees. A juv ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK flew overhead. NORTHERN HARRIERS were flying
nearby. The other birder left, and I tried to see the nesting GREAT HORNED OWL. I
eventually saw her in a large pine tree in the middle of the cemetery. The nest is
only about 3 or 4 ft down from the top. The tree is closest to a memorial in the
middle of the park that has a small flagpole on it. This is not the large flag pole
to the east. The tree has a single trunk. To see the nest, I parked the truck in
the big parking lot over near the line of evergreens. I viewed in a direction along
the
left line of grave markers that points to the memorial and to the large pine tree.
Watch the big almost-hidden nest for awhile, because the owl can be down inside the
nest. Many thanks to the lady that provided the directions to the tree. That nest
is super-hard to see.
I stayed overnight at a great Ellensburg motel called the Thunderbird Motel.
Cheapest prices in town, and all the amenities, including fridge, microwave, and
waffles w/ the continental breakfast. Very clean and nice.
The next day I attended the WOS board mtg, and then traveled w/ them afterwards on
old hwy 10 back toward CleElem. Just before the Teanaway bridge, we saw a NORTHERN
SHRIKE perched at a ranch. There was no dipper at the bridge. In Cle Elem we drove
back roads along the east part of town and saw a number of MOUNTAIN CHICKADEES, some
PINE SISKINS, and a VARIED THRUSH. We
continued on the road thru Cle Elem toward Roslyn. Just before the Roslyn roundabout
there is a feeder house w/ a large number of bird feeders. Quite a few feeder birds
were present. It was there we saw
my bird of the weekend, a WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER in a tall fir tree. Wow! We had
great views of it as it worked its way up the trunk.
I then continued west alone in my truck, w/ no worries after hearing on the hwy
hotline 511 that the road was bare and wet. Unfortunately, they then closed the pass
at
Easton due to multiple accidents on the west side of the pass. I pulled off at
Easton where you can listen to the highway radio on fm frequency 1610. After about 1
1/2 hours the road cleared, and I continued home, driving about 45 mph over the pass.
Back home in Des Moines I unloaded the truck at 9pm. It was really 8pm std time, but
it was
now just barely daylight saving time. It was partly cloudy, and temps were in the
high 30's. I heard a WESTERN SCREECH-OWL in our suburban neighborhood! It sounded
like it was behind a neighbor's house. It did it's trill followed by a wail. Wow!
This is the first Screech-Owl I have heard around here for years! It was a great
ending to an eventful weekend.
Yours, Carol Schulz
Des Moines, WA
linusq at att.net



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