[Tweeters] The day of the woodpecker; Sandy Lake Trail (Lewis County) and Bethel Ridge (Yakima County)

Somer, Lonnie lsomer at highline.edu
Tue Jul 5 11:05:58 PDT 2016

Hi Tweeters,

Yesterday (4th of July), I headed over to Lewis and Yakima Counties in search of woodpecker species that I hadn't yet seen this year. I did make a quick stop at the Peters Rd site in Randle a little before 7:30am. It was raining and fairly cold. The bunting was not out (although I see that it was spotted later in the day), but there were a couple of Lazuli Buntings already singing in the open. I decided to stop by again later when heading back home, hoping that the nicer weather would bring it out. As it turned out, that was not to be.

I next drove to the Sand Lake Trailhead off of FR 1284, just on the Lewis County side of White Pass, as noted in Dave Hayden's excellent guide. The road is pretty bad in a few places for low clearance vehicles, and there were a couple of exciting moments, especially when I drove along a small detour to bypass a couple of scary ditches. The trail to the old burn area is only a mile or so long, but straight up. The burn area itself was enshrouded in a cloud, making for a beautiful and surreal scene, but not the best for birding. A pair of A. THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS were excavating a cavity in a burned snag. I downloaded a bad cell phone photo on eBird of the male sticking his head out of the hole. Among the other species were both MOUNTAIN and WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, a couple of RED CROSSBILLS, and some CASSIN'S FINCHES. In all, about 20 species of birds. It's a really beautiful area, worth exploring in its own right.

I next went to Bethel Ridge Road. My first stop was near the burned area along FR 1304 about 0.8 miles from the main road. I immediately found 3 BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKERS, 2 ADULTS (male and female) and 1 adolescent, foraging near one another, maintaining almost constant vocal contact. I also located a pair of WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKERS nearby. All of these were in the forest downslope of the road. There were also a couple of NORTHERN FLICKERS calling in the area. My other stop was the aspen grove/meadow about 2.3 miles in from HWY 12 along the main road. The aspen grove used to be a reliable spot for Williamson's Sapsuckers, but for the last few years it has become a good spot for RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERS. I quickly found a pair of them there. I also spotted a pair of HAIRY WOODPECKERS in the meadow across the road from the grove. I downloaded bad digiscoped photos of all of these on eBird.

I was all set on driving to Oak Creek Rd outside of Naches for Lewis's Woodpeckers, but about 5 minutes from the turn off, my car's power turned off and I was lucky to be able to make it to a pull-out. I was able to restart the car, turn it around, and aim it back the way that I had come. It died a few more times along the way, always without warning. Kind of exciting when going over White Pass. I passed Peters Rd. without stopping for the Indigo Bunting about the time that Dave and Sherry Hayden were enjoying views of it, apparently.

The car is now in the shop and I have an unplanned day off of work.

Good birding,

Lonnie Somer


lsomer at highline.edu
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