[Tweeters] A Wonderful Weekend at Wenas (Long)
josh.n.glant at gmail.com
Mon May 30 19:32:50 PDT 2016
This weekend, I had the privilege to attend the annual Wenas Audubon campout in eastern Washington. I must start by saying, this Memorial Day weekend was one of the best weekends I have ever had, birding or otherwise. If you haven't been to Wenas, I highly recommend it: the birds are fantastic, the people are wonderful, the scenery is spectacular and there is a wide range of activities and field trips for everyone to enjoy. I will definitely be going back next year, and many years to come!
To list all the highlights of the weekend would take three pages alone, so I will try my best to present a day-by-day summary of the amazing time I had.
Friday: I departed from Bellevue with my driver, Darcy Barry (thank you again for the ride!), and spent a few hours standing still in traffic (tip: leave EARLY if you are heading over on Friday). We finally rolled in to Ellensburg at around 9:15 PM; however, our late arrival had a silver lining: driving along Umtanum Road in the fading twilight, our car passed 10 common poorwills along the road, a lifer! One sat still right beside the car for good headlight views.
Saturday: early-morning birding around camp was rewarded with my lifer veery and Cassin's finch, as well as state lifer white-breasted nuthatch. After that, a photography-oriented hike in Black Canyon the next morning with Doug Schurman yielded a few very nice photos up at the water drip, and such avian goodies as a dusky flycatcher, pacific-slope flycatcher sitting giving incredible views for several moments, a handful of stunning mountain bluebirds, a Townsend's solitaire, and a possible kestrel nest! The afternoon was spent around camp, watching a horde of evening grosbeaks all over the place, and sitting near the Zimmermans' van having nice conversation while admiring calliope and rufous hummingbirds attending their feeders. During the evening campfire, I saw a western bluebird and red-naped sapsucker.
Sunday: Getting up very early, I walked around camp and got lifer gray flycatcher, another white-breasted nuthatch and my FOY black-chinned hummingbird coming to the feeders, a gorgeous male. At 5:45 AM, we left for the Woodpecker Field Trip with Teresa Lorenz. The trip was AMAZING! Oak Creek Wildlife Area had Lewis's Woodpecker and FOY gray catbird; the alpine heights of Bethel Ridge had amazing views of both three-toed and black-backed woodpeckers, the latter being a lifer, and heard only hairy; lower down in the ponderosa forest, we saw nesting Williamson's sapsuckers (lifer) and a probable downy nest, a black-backed woodpecker nest, and finally my two lifer white-headed woodpeckers giving distant but decent views. In the afternoon at camp, I had great views of a gray flycatcher, heard a white-headed woodpecker rattle, and did some more afternoon chatting and hummingbird watching.
Monday: One last early morning! This time, Darcy and I headed straight to Umtanum Creek Wildlife Area. We hiked up the canyon all the way to Darcy's landmark ponderosa pine and came back again. The birding was **fantastic** there! We saw three prairie falcons (lifer), countless yellow-breasted chats (lifer), saw several canyon wrens, heard a veery calling in the riparian thicket, saw a Cooper's hawk on its nest, and had a male harrier chase my FOY golden eagle around the canyon for a bit. The male harrier later dove right at our heads later on, passing 5 feet above in an obvious defensive behavior! With both the male and female harriers carrying food, it was clear that the birds were a breeding pair. I finished with 48 species and a victorious drive back across the Snoqualmie Pass, and home.
The only checklist I have up so far is the Umtanum Creek one, here it is:
I finished the weekend with 10 lifers - in order: Common poorwill, veery, Cassin's finch, gray flycatcher, Lewis's woodpecker, black-backed woodpecker, Williamson's sapsucker, white-headed woodpecker, yellow-breasted chat, and prairie falcon. I also crossed off my two heard-onlies (evening grosbeak and canyon wren), and got too many FOYs to list!
Special thanks to the Zimmermans and Schurmans, who let me set up my tent between them, and once more to Darcy Barry, who drove me to Wenas and back, shared her scope with me for some great digiscoped iPhone pics, and saved my Memorial Day weekend of 2016.
Great birding in our glorious Washington State, Joshua Glant
Mercer Island, WA
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