[Tweeters] Wenas Birdathon Route - May 14

Eric Heisey magicman32 at rocketmail.com
Wed May 18 16:16:47 PDT 2016

Hey all,
Sorry for the tardiness of my posting, but here a quick recap of my Wenas route for the annual birdathon. On Saturday, I was joined by Annika Willette on the Wenas route, a route that covers pretty much anything between the Tieton River and I82 with the exception of the Yakima Canyon. We had a pretty good day all in all, with relatively low temperatures (no higher than 75 degrees) and overcast skies. However, several periods of intense wind and rain put a damper on some of the morning and most of the late afternoon. We still found 114 species, 12 better than last year. This seems like a pretty good total for this route. We actually struggled to find a few of the species typical of this route, like White-headed Woodpecker and Pygmy Nuthatch, and ended up completely missing Northern Pygmy-Owl. We had few misses, but Rock Wren, Northern Pygmy-Owl, and Purple Finch are found most years. We actually had a good count on individual birds as well, tallying 2,199 individuals. There were some great birds, here are the highlights:- COMMON LOON on Wenas Lake, in beautiful breeding plumage. Wenas Lake had some good ducks, also adding NORTHERN SHOVELER, LESSER SCAUP, and BUFFLEHEAD to our list.- GREAT EGRET at Harlan's Landing, south of Selah.- WESTERN SCREECH-OWL just west of Wenas Campground, up the small creek and in the cottonwoods. There were also 11 COMMON POORWILLS and 1 GREAT HORNED OWL found while owling in the morning.- Annika heard a WILD TURKEY near Wenas Campground- Lots of flycatchers, Dusky, Hammond's, Pacific-slope, Western Kingbird, Say's Phoebe, and good counts of 43 GRAY FLYCATCHER and 41 WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE- 9 BUSHTITS were found split between Wenas Campground and Hardy Canyon- 2 PYGMY NUTHATCHES were found on Hog Ranch Rd, higher up in elevation than I have seen them before in the Wenas (around 4,000 feet, where the Ponderosa Pine forest is beginning to mix with Douglas Fir)- 7 TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE was a good count- A HERMIT THRUSH is a species I have not had here previously, singing on a nice mixed forest hillside along Hog Ranch Rd- Many Warblers were around, including MACGILLIVRAY'S, NASHVILLE, ORANGE-CROWNED, YELLOW, YELLOW-RUMPED, TOWNSEND'S, WILSON'S, and YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT- A GRASSHOPPER SPARROW was heard singing despite the high winds along Sheep Company Rd, the same place I found this species last year- 99 HOUSE WRENS seemed a notable count- 37 BREWER'S SPARROWS is another noteworthy count- 4 LARK SPARROWS, one at around 4,000 feet on Hog Ranch Rd, one along North Wenas Rd, and two more south of Wenas Lake again along North Wenas Rd
Even with all of these fantastic birds, by far the best moment of the day (for me at least) came at about 4:25 am along North Wenas Rd, only about two miles north of Audubon Rd. I was out of the car, attempting to photograph a Common Poorwill using a spotlight while Annika was in the car trying to stay warm (it was a balmy 37 degrees out). As I shined the spotlight across the hillside, I noticed the eye-shines of four fairly large mammals. Thinking they were coyotes, I got Annika to come out and look at them. Before long, I realized that what I was looking at were not in fact coyotes, but rather a mother MOUNTAIN LION and her three cubs!!! This might be the single coolest thing I have ever seen, and only about 60 or 70 yards away! Annika shined the spotlight on them, and I was even able to obtain pictures of them! Before too long, they disappeared out of sight over the hilltop, a truly marvelous experience. I was super pumped for the rest of the day, how bout that to wake you up!
It sounds like everyone else had a good time too, it's hard not to on birdathon!
Eric Heisey
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