[Tweeters] southeastern Washington birding for Memorial Day weekend

washingtonbirder.Knittle Knittle washingtonbirder at hotmail.com
Mon May 31 18:43:21 PDT 2010

Thursday night birding the Yakima River Delta near dusk a Common Nighthawk flew over being my first for the year. Friday morning Tom Mansfield and I headed up the north side of the Snake River on the Pasco-Kahlotus Rd. A small pond just north of the road had nesting American Avocets, Black-necked Stilts, and a Cinnamon Teal. Not much bird activity until we stopped at Wind Dust. Here Dusky Flycatchers, tons of Wilson’s Warblers, a Townsend’s Warbler, a Barn Owl, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, and a Cassin’s Vireo were busy feeding in the trees in the picnic area and on the north-side of the parking lot. With thinking if Wind Dust has so many migrants, the other hot spots also would, so we headed off for Kahlotus only to find 1 Wilson’s Warbler at the park and 1 Rufous Hummingbird at a feeder in town. Not finding much we moved on to Washtucna where we ran into Ken Brown and the Tahoma Audubon. South of Basset Park we watched the hummingbird feeders and saw both Black-chinned and Rufous Hummingbirds. The Washtucna sewer ponds had only 1 Spotted Sandpiper.

Near the Palouse Falls turn off a Ferruginous Hawk was sitting on a power pole and we enjoyed great looks for several minutes before it flew. At Lyon’s Ferry was a Swainson’s Thrush and 1 Veery, otherwise not much bird activity. On to Little Goose Dam where many gulls were working the fast churning water as it exited the dam. The flock consisted of California and Ring-billed Gulls with 1 Herring Gull. Beyond the dam at the end of the road was 1 Spotted Sandpiper.

Saturday morning we woke to strong winds and so we headed off starting first at Marengo in the Tucannon River Valley. We checked for Chukars, but found none perhaps due to strong winds. 3 Lewis’s Woodpeckers were near the base of the hill near the only farm house. Heading south up the Tucannon River Valley we did find Cordilleran Flycatcher and Red-eyed Vireo. At Spring Lake was a beautiful lone drake Blue-winged Teal and Cooper’s Hawk. Across the road was both Swainson’s Thrush and Veery along with 1 Bewick’s Wren, and Gray Catbirds. At Rainbow Lakes bridge was an American Dipper. And just south of Rainbow Lakes were at least 4 Nashville Warblers. Last Chance Store is now called Last Resort. The store has a nesting Say’s Phoebe under the patio roof at the back of the store and 10 feet away under the same roof was a American Robin’s nest. Looks like they were co-existing ok.

On to Pataha Creek south of Pomeroy we tried for Veery, but no response. We did have a Gray Flycatcher which seemed out of habitat, heard a Ruffed Grouse, and a Pileated Woodpecker. On our way to Lower Granite Dam we talked a Virginia Rail out of his hiding place in a wet land. At the dam was 1 Belted Kingfisher, Caspian Terns and American White Pelicans. At Central Ferry on the Garfield County side were a late pair of Common Goldeneyes and a pair of Blue-winged Teals.

Sunday morning we started off in gale force wind on top of Steptoe Butte in Whitman County north of Colfax. The top and west sides of the butte weren’t worth birding, except for a pair of Townsend’s Solitaires. The east side was ok where we had Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Townsend’s Warbler, Gray Catbirds, Yellow-breasted Chat, and 1 female Rufous Hummingbird. Glenwood Road on our way to Kamiak Butte had very vocal Spotted Sandpipers, and farther up the draw were Pygmy Nuthatches, and Red Crossbills. At Kamiak Butte it was loaded with House Wrens and Western Wood Pewees. 1 Ruffed Grouse was heard. Heading to the western parts of Whitman County we had a pair of Ferruginous Hawks and Long-billed Curlews.

We worked our way south through Washtucna which didn’t have much and back into Columbia Co. Not much at Little Goose Dam, but on Riviera Road we did see a Lark Sparrow on the south end of the road close to Hwy 261. We finished the day off in western Walla Walla County with Rock Wrens, Ferruginous Hawks, Lark Sparrows, and Grasshopper Sparrows. At the Walla Walla River delta was 1 Snowy Plover and 1 Sanderling. 3 Franklin’s Gulls were the gulls of note.

Monday morning Laurie and I headed west along the Columbia River. A quick stop at Whitcomb Island NWR had 1 Eastern Kingbird, Marsh Wrens, American Avocets, and American White Pelicans. West of Roosevelt was a lone male Cinnamon Teal. And east of MP 88 on Hwy 14 we stopped and viewed the White-throated Swifts.

The wind and rain made it tough to find the birds all weekend, but we did have 135 species and found some code 5 birds like the Veery at Lyon’s Ferry and the Gray Flycatcher at Pataha Creek.

Ken Knittle
Vancouver WA 98665
mailto:washingtonbirder at hotmail.com
Washington Birder online

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