[Tweeters] Birding East of the Cascades to Walla Walla with Brian Pendleton and Mike Denny

B B birder4184 at yahoo.com
Thu May 12 09:43:26 PDT 2016

Brian Pendleton is definitely crazier than I am (and a much better birder as well).  Having just returned from a repositioning cruise and then birding in Indiana late Monday night, he joined me on a birding blitz to Eastern Washington to pick up some birds missed while he was away and then some new ones for both of us including spending a marvelous day with Mike Denny in beautiful Walla Walla County yesterday.
We had great weather, great birds, great scenery and great company.  Altogether we had just under 140 species.  Brian had 20 new state year birds and I had a dozen.  Pictures of many. 
Some reflections/highlights:
Spring migration is going full blast.  Recent arrivals included Hammonds, Pacific Slope and Dusky Flycatchers, Western Wood Pewee, Cassin's and Warbling Vireo, Nashville, Yellow (MANY), MacGillivray's, Townsend's (MANY in the Blues), Yellow Rumped, Black Throated Gray and Wilson's Warblers; Yellow Breasted Chat (beauty on Umptanum Creek); Bullock's Orioles; Lazuli Buntings, Vaux Swifts; American Avocet and Black Necked Stilts.  Western Kingbirds were abundant but we saw only a few Say's Phoebes.  We generally skipped the Shrub Steppe but did see a few Mountain and Western Bluebirds, Brewer's, Lark and Vesper Sparrows. 
We had great looks at photo friendly Rufous, Calliope and Black Chinned Hummingbirds.  We also had good looks at all Washington Swallows except Purple Martin.  Not very many (and no special) gulls or terns and relatively few shorebirds (Spotted Sandpiper, Killdeer, Long Billed Curlew and probable Pectoral Sandpiper in addition to the Stilts and Avocets).
Some specialty species were Tricolored Blackbirds (Sundance Road ponds) and Ferruginous Hawk on Hatch Grade and Green Tailed Towhee on Coppei Ridge.  Had Barn and Owls (latter included two fledged goofy looking young).  Relatively few other raptors including just a few Swainson's Hawks but many Osprey.  We had all Washington Teal and both American and Eurasian Widgeon and lots of gorgeous Redheads (the swimming and flying kind only).  We had only passable or heard only intersections with Williamson's and Red Naped Sapsucker, Flicker and Hairy, Downy and Pileated Woodpeckers.
We tried very hard but failed to find a Great Gray Owl and no Northern Goshawk which was a possibility.  Guess we will have to try again.
As good as the birding was, it was even better to have our own personal Natural History Encyclopedia at hand.  Speaking of course about Mike Denny - nobody better to guide you through the birds, plants, bugs, snakes, trees and valleys of Walla Walla and environs.  Even arranged for a Vaux Swift flyover at his house just before we left.  Thanks Mike.
I especially wanted to go to Walla Walla because I am not going to be able to make the WOS Conference there in early June...going to be a super time...sorry to miss it.
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