[Tweeters] Eastern Washington Blitzkrieg!!

B B birder4184 at yahoo.com
Thu Mar 31 09:56:31 PDT 2016

Brian Pendleton and I had a wonderful fast paced trip to EasternWashington yesterday.  Brian had set a goal of seeing 200 species by theend of March.  He made it to 202 but wanted to see if he could add somemore so we did mostly targeting but picked up a lot of birds in theprocess.  Since this was my third trip to Kittitas County just over a weekit was fascinating to see how it continues to change.  On this trip wealso hit a number of spots in Grant and Adams Counties so there were new speciesas well.Highlights/Details:For the day we ended with 90 species - including most of ourtargets  Only miss was Black Necked Stilts despite trying many spots.The weather was spectacular - not a drop of rain nor gust of windand for most of the day the temperature was between 55 and 68.PygmyNuthatches remain active and numerous at the South Cle Elum RR Pnds.  TreeSwallows are pairing up.At my favorite South Cle Elum Feeders we had at least one Cassin'sFinch, a beautiful Red Crossbill, and many colorful Goldfinches and PineSiskins.At Ringer Loop just off Canyon a pair of Osprey were on thenesting platform.On Durr Road we had singing Vesper Sparrows, Gray Partridge, SageThrashers and both Bluebirds.The Great Horned Owl was barely visible on its nest in ShushuskinCanyon.On Fairview Road in East Ellensburg we had 6 Northern Rough LeggedHawks together in the field and in adjoining trees.  All were adultswith prominent white heads.We had a fun visit with Deb Essman at her place in East Ellensburg.The Common Grackle she photographed (beautifully through her window!!!!)yesterday never returned so we missed that possible super bird.At various spots along Vantage Roads we had great looks at singingBrewer's Sparrows (including some that I think were the more highly markedTimberline/Northern form), Sage Thrashers, Mountain Bluebirds, Say's Phoebes,and more Vesper Sparrows but we did not see any Sagebrush Sparrows.Recreation Drive in Gingko SP was a complete bust with neitherCanyon nor Rock Wrens.At the Silica Road marsh/pond we had a Virginia Rail, 7 Wilson'sSnipe and 2 Northern Rough Winged Swallows.At Frenchman’s Coulee there were White Throated Swifts and a heardonly Canyon Wren – no Rock Wren.Birder’s Corner was disappointing with no Black Necked Stilts andrelatively few waterfowl – 3 Wilson’s Snipe.At the County Line Ponds again so Stilts, but there were 200-300Sandhill Cranes (for maybe 10 minutes) and hundreds of Canada Geese.With help from Hans Feddern at the spot and from Randy Hill andMeg Lyden from their earlier reports, we located two Long Billed Curlews in thebig alfalfa field at the southwest corner of Highway 26 and Reynolds Road inOthello.We found the burrow and two Burrowing Owls at the Sutton Roaddrainage ditch.At Para/McCain ponds we had 5 Yellow Headed Blackbirds, manyCackling and Canada Geese, 2 Snow Geese a variety of ducks but no Tricolored Blackbirdsdespite searching for them.We had our only Loggerhead Shrike of the day in the ColumbiaNWR.  No Rock Wrens.Almost nothing at Lind Coulee and then at O’Sullivan Dam we weretreated to a close encounter with 50 Cliff Swallows that flew right over andaround us.Still lusting for Black Necked Stilts we visited WinchesterWasteway Ponds.  Nothing.  BUT along the way we found a pair ofBurrowing Owls setting up their home.Rock Wren had been a major target for Brian.  We had skipped Huntzinger Road because “surelywe would get them at …”  Since we had notwe dashed for the “dump spot canyon” just south of the Dam.  I optimistically told Brian, we would arrivejust in time for the 6:00 p.m. serenade. We got there exactly at 6:00 and heard a Rock Wren singing as soon as weopened the door.  Excellent close looks.With fading light but nearing 90 species we decided to tryBullfrog Pond on the way home.  Insharply fading light we easily found a dipper at the bridge on Bullfrog Roadjust before the Pond.  At the Pond itselfit was mostly quiet but Brian somehow miraculously spotted a silhouette in atall Cottonwood that turned out to be a Ruffed Grouse eating buds.  Now it was 7:30 and getting dark.  But we had one more treat – we heard aWilliamson’s Sapsucker that we were not able to locate.  A great end to a great day.
Some pictures can be found at https://photos.google.com/album/AF1QipNDoExzMS4gcW5Hx1g_IjTPiLmBxCK2aW8dHvt5 

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