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Monday, May 1, 2017
It was raining this morning, and it pretty much kept up all day long.† It was a light rain, but it kept coming down.† I planned to head up to Edmonds to look for a couple of species out on the water and maybe a shorebird or two in the Edmonds Marsh.† Before I even left home, though, I saw a couple of Pine Siskins in our yard, and I had my Monday bird, just like that.
I wanted a good BAD bird, though, and some of the possible shorebirds at Edmonds could be that for me, so I headed up there anyway.† It was still raining when I got there, so I went to Sunset Avenue to see if any shorebirds were visible on the log that is tethered offshore.† Nope.† Nothing but some gulls and one cormorant.
So, I went to the Edmonds Marsh, but there were no parking places in the parking lot there.† I drove through once, though, and on my way out a woman was getting into a car, so I waited and she left.† I parked in her place and got out with my binoculars and an umbrella and looked out over the marsh.† The tide was high, and I feared there would be no mud for shorebirds, but I saw a group of birds across the marsh on the opposite shore.† I got out my scope and it was a group of Western Sandpipers with three Dunlins among them.† That completed Dunlin for me, but I had already used that one as a BAD bird, earlier in the year.† I had seen Western Sandpiper on a Monday, but I hadn't used it as a BAD bird.† So, one species was a Monday bird and the other was a great candidate for BAD bird.† Success.
Since it was still raining, I headed for home.† On the way I decided to stop at Wallace Swamp Creek Park, though, where I had spent over an hour on Saturday.† There was one warbler species in particular that I wanted to see, because it had been reported there several times in the last week.† I walked around in the rain without an umbrella and soon ran into a group that was on a nature walk.† I suspected that the woman leading the walk was the one who had been posting the reports of the warbler I wanted to see, so I approached them and asked her if she had seen that warbler today.† She said she had seen 2 or 3.† I asked about where to look for them, and she said the walk was almost over, and if I wanted to tag along back to the parking lot, she would show me.
So, I did so, and after the others left I asked her if she was Linda, and she was.† We had exchanged emails a few times over the last couple or three years.† It was still raining lightly, but I had time and she had time, so we walked around for a while, looking for this warbler.† She heard it a few times, but I couldn't ever distinguish it.† Meanwhile, she showed me some bird nests, when I expressed interest.† Here is an American Robin sitting on a nest that was only a few feet off the ground.
It will be interesting to go back there over the next few weeks and see if I can see the young robins after they hatch.
She also showed me a Brown Creeper nest and a Bushtit nest, but there weren't birds around either one of them.† I'll check those out again, too.† She also showed me two Anna's Hummingbird nests.† The first one seemed to have young in it.† We couldn't see them, but the way the female acted, it appeared she was feeding them.† Here is a blurry picture of the female Anna's Hummingbird at her nest.
The nest is that lichen-covered thing in the crotch where the limb meets the trunk.† Here is a picture of her sitting on the nest.
The other hummingbird nest still only had eggs in it, and it was in some bushes, and I didn't approach it.† Linda approached it and saw that there were only eggs in it still.† We had seen the hummingbird fly away from the nest as we approached.
Meanwhile, while doing that, we continued to look for the warbler I wanted and eventually she spotted one and I got a couple of good looks at a BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER, the one I wanted and my first one of the year.† It was very tempting to take that as my BAD bird, but after thinking about it and consulting eBird about the relative frequency of the two species in our area, I decided to take Western Sandpiper for my BAD bird today.† There should be Black-throated Gray Warblers around for at least a couple of months, so I'll hope to see another one someday.† The Western Sandpipers are migrating through and will be gone in a week or two, and there aren't all that many of them, nor are there many places to see them.† For example, they hadn't been reported at all at Edmonds Marsh yet this year.
That made three species for Monday, to bring me to 159 species.† Completing Dunlin today brings me to 78 species completed now, and the Black-throated Gray Warbler brings my year total to 279 species.†
We have had record rainfall this year, but there have been only a very few days where the rain kept up all day long like it did today.† Birding in the rain has several problems.† The raindrops move the leaves, which makes it harder to find birds; when you look upward, you get raindrops on your binocular lenses; and, you get wet.† There is also very little light, which makes taking pictures much more difficult.† You also get water on the lens of your camera if you point it upward at all.† I prevailed, though, and got three Monday birds and a good BAD bird, along with three blurry pictures.
Tuesday, May 2, 2017
Finally we had a non-rainy day.† I had planned to go up to Mukilteo to try for Marbled Murrelet and Rhinoceros Auklet today, but while I was doing my morning things around the house I saw a couple of Pine Siskins, which I needed for Tuesday.† So, since the murrelet and the auklet are supposed to be here all summer, I decided to skip them today and look for a good BAD bird instead.
First, though, I headed down to Juanita Beach Park to look for Lesser Scaup because I wanted to complete that species, and most of them have already left for the summer.† They had been reported in Juanita Bay 2 or 3 times this last week, so gave it a shot.† I struck out - very few ducks are left, and most of the ones there are year round ones, like Mallard and Gadwall.
I decided to go up to Wallace Swamp Creek Park, where I was yesterday in the rain, and try to see a Black-throated Gray Warbler, like I had yesterday, or maybe some other returning migrant.
It was pretty quiet at the park, and I went to look at one of the two hummingbird nests I had been shown yesterday.† This one is quite low, in some bushes.† I was able to see the female hummingbird on the nest, but it was back in the bushes and difficult to photograph.† I was tempted to approach the nest and remove some leaves so I would have a straight shot at the nest, but I decided that wasn't fair to the little hummingbird, which was going to have a hard enough time raising a brood in such a low location.† Here is a peek-a-boo shot of the female hummingbird on her nest.
That's the nest that Linda had looked in yesterday and found only eggs.† Maybe once they hatch I'll be able to get a shot of the young ones.† The other hummingbird nest she showed me seems to have young ones in it, but today the mom didn't come back to the nest while I was watching, and it is too high up to see if there are young ones in it or not.† I plan to check that nest again, too, over the coming week or two.
I saw a Pileated Woodpecker flying away from me, and it landed on a dead tree and pecked away at the bark, presumably finding insects under the bark.† Here are some pictures of the male Pileated Woodpecker.
I was able to approach within 12 or 15 feet, and here is a close-up picture of him.
His tongue is sticking out in that last picture, and here is a closer crop in which you can clearly see his tongue, which he uses to slurp up bugs.
That was fun, and I moved on.† The second hummingbird nest was empty today, as I mentioned.† I didn't see any Bushtits around the Bushtit nest, but here is a picture of it.
Presumably the female is sitting on her eggs in there.† Once they hatch, then there will have to be a lot of coming and going to feed the babies.† I'm looking forward to observing that activity, although the young ones aren't likely to be visible.
On my way back to my car, I was able to see a Black-throated Gray Warbler, which was my main target there today.† I tried to get a picture, but it was always high up in trees and never stopped moving around, so I failed.† It was a great BAD bird, though, and it made me glad that yesterday I chose to take Western Sandpiper for my BAD bird, and not this species.
I took a picture of Wallace Swamp Creek from the bridge over it, on my way to the car.
That was it for my birding today, but back at home it was warm enough (about 60 maybe) to sit out on the porch with my friend, Dan, who came over for lunch today.† I pruned back the camellia bush enough to be able to see the bird feeder from my chair on the porch, and I took a lot of pictures of birds that came to the feeder while we were on the porch.† We figured my chair is 60 or 70 feet from the feeder, so the pictures are pretty distant, but at least you can see the birds.† Here is a poor picture of a Steller's Jay.
Here is another picture, taken later, of a Steller's Jay in the shade.
Here is a picture of a Pine Siskin, the Tuesday bird I had seen this morning.
Later there were three Pine Siskins sharing the feeder, which is kind of unusual because Pine Siskins are usually pretty aggressive about chasing off other birds when they are feeding.† I think of this picture as "The three amigos".
Still later I got a picture of a Pine Siskin and a female House Finch both feeding at the feeder.† Note that the finch is at the extreme other end from the Pine Siskin.
The House Finch is the one on the right, and it is larger than the Pine Siskin.† They are both little brown birds with streaky breasts, and their relative sizes can help identify the species.
Chestnut-backed Chickadees kept coming in, and I got this picture of one of them.
Here are a couple of pictures of a female Northern Flicker.
Finally, here is a picture of an American Crow that briefly visited.
I added two more species to my Tuesday list today, to bring it to 167.† I'll take Black-throated Gray Warbler for my BAD bird today.
Wednesday, May 3, 2017
On Wednesday I went up to Mukilteo to try for a couple of species that are leaving now and will be gone in a week or two.† I had both species on all the days of the week except Wednesday, so I decided to give it a shot.
Upon arriving at Edgewater Beach Park, I immediately saw three Brandt's Cormorants offshore - that was one species completed and I had just gotten there.† I set up my scope and looked around and soon saw a group of 10 or more Barrow's Goldeneyes, the other species I needed for completion.† Now I have seen both of those species on all seven days of the week this year.† Of note, I saw four widely separated pairs of Marbled Murrelets, too.† I didn't need that one for Wednesday, but I still need it for five days of the week, so I hope to get back to Mukilteo to add that one to the other days.† I've seen that species there the last two or three times I've been there, and they aren't all that easy to see.† I also got a good look at a Rhinoceros Auklet, another species I didn't need for Wednesday, but I hadn't yet used it for a BAD bird, so it was a candidate.
I drove over to Lighthouse Park, which I hadn't visited before this year.† I saw a single Western Grebe, which was a Wednesday bird, and I think there were a couple more Rhino Auklets, but I didn't bother getting out my scope to confirm that, since I had seen one earlier.
I had plenty of time, so I went down to Juanita Bay Park to look for migrants.† I went to the eastern portion, at the end of NE 108th St.† There is a path there that I had never walked before.† It was a nice walk in the woods on a sunny day, but I didn't see anything very interesting.† I played the song of Wilson's Warbler because the habitat looked right for it, and I heard responses that might have been that bird, but I never could see any bird.† I wasnít sure enough that it was the same song, so I didn't count it.† I did get this picture of a Song Sparrow.
I like this picture of a male Spotted Towhee, too.
Here is that same Spotted Towhee hopping.† He seems to be levitating.
That was it for Wednesday.† I added three species to my Wednesday list, to bring it to 175 species this year.† I took Rhinoceros Auklet for my BAD bird.† I completed two species, to make it 80 species completed this year.
Thursday, May 4, 2017
Yesterday had been the warmest day of the year so far, getting up to 76 degrees in our back yard.† Today it got up to 78 in our yard, and it was a beautiful day once the low clouds had burned off.† I went out to the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Valley Wildlife Area to look for American Bittern.† I had seen or heard bitterns there four times so far in the last week or so, but each time I had seen some other bird that I liked better for my Bird-A-Day bird, so I hadn't yet used American Bittern for a BAD bird.† I needed it for Thursday as well.
I parked and walked south on the Snoqualmie Valley Trail toward where I had seen and heard the bitterns.† Almost right away I heard one making its gulping call, so I had my Thursday bird and potential BAD bird.† I wanted to try to see one, though, and I was also looking for migrants that might show up there.† I spotted the bittern out in the open, which was exciting.† My other views had been of birds in the long grass.† This one stayed in the open the whole time I was there, and I took a lot of pictures.† Here is an introductory picture of American Bittern, the first of 11 today.
When a bittern calls, it pumps up its throat and upper chest with air and then gives out a very strange sound, almost like gulping loudly.† Here is a picture of it getting ready to call, with its chest sac full of air.
Here it is with its throat also full of air, ready to call.
Here is a link to a YouTube video of an American Bittern at Stillwater (maybe the same one), taken a week or so ago - not by me.† You can hear the strange sound they make, though, which I have referred to repeatedly.
Be patient or skip ahead to about 1:30 to see the bird getting ready to call and then calling at the end of this video clip.† I think it is a really interesting call, and you can see why it is easy to recognize when you hear it, even for me.
Here is another picture from a little different angle.
A couple of other birders came along and I pointed out the bittern to them.† While we watched, it pounced and caught a frog.† Here it is with the frog.
Here it is gulping down the frog in its entirety.
Here is a close-up showing all the gory details.
It took the bird a minute or two to get the frog all the way down.
Here is the American Bittern standing in the sun after its meal.
Finally, here it is imitating a stick.† Bitterns often stand completely still for minutes at a time.
That was a lot of fun, but I eventually moved on, back toward my car.† On the way I got this picture of a male Red-winged Blackbird on a snag.
I had a little extra time, so I moved my car and went looking for a Brewer's Sparrow that has been reported there for several days.† I hiked out into the fields, but I never found the sparrow.† There were three male and two female Brown-headed Cowbirds out there, though, so that one went on to my Thursday list.† I didnít have much time, and I soon went back to my car and drove down to Factoria to have lunch with my friend, Chris.† On my way back to my car I saw a male American Goldfinch for my Thursday list, too.
After lunch we went over to Phantom Lake, as we usually do if the weather is good.† There weren't many birds around at first, but we did see a Bald Eagle make a dive for a fish, but it came up empty.† Then it made a pass at a couple of Buffleheads on the lake, but they dove down and after circling for a minute, the eagle flew off.† There were also a couple of Red-tailed Hawks flying around and a second eagle showed up, too.† Then Chris spotted a small hawk flying by, and I got good looks at it.† I could see it was either a Cooper's Hawk or a Sharp-shinned Hawk.† They are very similar, but the Cooper's is larger.† From the size, I thought it was a Sharp-shinned.† It flew up overhead and actually harassed one of the Red-tailed Hawks.† It was obvious from comparing the relative sizes that it was a Sharp-shinned Hawk, which was great for me, since I see Cooper's a lot more than I see Sharp-shinned.† It was only the second time this year that I have seen a Sharp-shinned Hawk.
So, when it was all over, I had added 4 species to my Thursday list, to bring it to 173 species.† I completed one species (American Goldfinch), to make 81 species completed now.† For my BAD bird, I'm going to pass over the American Bittern still again, to take Sharp-shinned Hawk.† It's really ironic, because I never expected to see American Bittern here locally, and after seeing or hearing one five times, I still haven't used it.† I just keep finding even better birds, each day.† After seeing or hearing the species each of the five times I've visited Stillwater in the last week and a half, I feel confident I can get it on another visit.† My year total stays at 279 species.
Friday, May 4, 2017
Before I get into Friday, I wanted to make a correction to Thursday's report.† I saw a Pine Siskin at our feeder in the afternoon, and that completed that species and added one more to my Thursday list.† The corrected total for Thursday is 174 species, and the corrected total of completed species is 82.
On Friday morning I went out to the Snoqualmie River Valley up by Duvall.† I had seen a couple of reports of a flycatcher that is pretty uncommon in this area, and I wanted to try for it.† I went first to W. Snoqualmie River Rd NE, where I had seen this species last year and maybe the year before.† Ring-necked Pheasant has been reported there, too, by several people, and I wanted that one, too.
I didn't see any pheasants or flycatchers, and I had to work hard to ignore all the swallows.† Ignoring the swallows (thus "saving" them for later) is becoming a drag, since there are so many around, of five different species so far, with two species more arriving shortly.† It's starting to feel like cheating, too, to deliberately not look at them closely enough to identify the species, thus not having to count them.† So far I'm continuing to do it, though.† Today I had to similarly ignore the doves - they might have been Mourning Doves, which I don't need, but they were actually more likely Eurasian Collared-Doves,whichi need on Friday, at that location.† I didn't look too closely, though, so I didn't count either one today.
Having missed both pheasant and my flycatcher there, I drove on up to the Tualco Loop Rd, north of Crescent Lake.† Two of these flycatchers had been reported there a couple or three days ago.† I found them where they had been reported.† Here is a picture of a Western Kingbird, an excellent Friday bird.
Here is another picture of it.
That was my only Friday bird today, to bring me to 169 species on Friday.† For my BAD bird today, I'll happily take Western Kingbird.† I hadn't expected to be able to get Western Kingbird locally for a BAD bird, so that was great.
Here are my Day Of The Week (DOTW) totals at this point, along with my totals last year after 18 weeks (Last year I had taken a couple of weeks off for medical reasons by this time, and it was May 29 by the time I got to 18 weeks.)
††††††††††††††††††††††† 2017†††† 2016
Sunday†††††††††††† 159†††††† 115
Monday††††††††††† 159†††††† 120
Tuesday††††††††††† 167†††††† 117
Wednesday†††††† 175†††††† 124
Thursday†††††††††† 174†††††† 114
Friday†† ††††††††††† 169†††††† 109
Saturday†††††††††† 160†††††† 112
Last year I hadn't gone to either California or Texas by this time, so those two trips this year have considerably raised my numbers.† Because of that, I can't really compare this year to last year to see how I'm doing.† I could try modifying this year's counts, to make them comparable to last year's counts, by taking out those birds I saw in Texas or California that I wouldn't have seen here at home, but I haven't done that exercise.† For one thing, it isn't easy to do because there are some birds I saw on those trips that I might have seen here at home, but probably wouldn't have.† Still, it would be interesting to do my best to make the two year's comparable, so I could see how I'm doing this year compared to last year.† I might try doing that.† I had completed 76 species last year after 18 weeks, and this year I have completed 82.† Again, though, I completed some species in Texas and California and those trips helped complete other species, so it is difficult to really compare the two years.† Also, in comparing the two years, keep in mind that I could easily have 4 or 5 more species each day of the week if I weren't "saving" swallows this year.
Tomorrow I plan to head over the mountains to spend two nights in Ellensburg.† It is still a week or two early for many of the returning migrants, but some are back and now is when I have the time.† I want to try to build up my Saturday, Sunday, and Monday lists, since they are lagging behind the rest of the days.† It's supposed to be sunny and about 60 degrees, but somewhat windy.
Saturday, May 6, 2017
I was up and away by 9:15 this morning, which is good for me.††† My goal is always 9:00, but 9:30 is fine.† Of course, real birders would have been out there for at least three hours by that time.
The drive over the mountains was uneventful.† There were a few raindrops near the summit, but mostly it was dry.† My first stop was at a river access just east of Cle Elum.† I needed a stop to pee, but I also thought I might see something there.† I did see several birds, but never could identify any of them before they disappeared.† It was very windy and pretty cold, maybe mid-40ís.
I stopped at the Teanaway River bridge to see if I could see one of the American Dippers that live there, but the river was so high that I donít see how the dippers could even survive there at this time.† It was still windy and cold.
Next I took an unpaved road called Taylor road, but it was so windy and cold that I didnít really try very hard to see anything there.† I did see a male Brown-headed Cowbird for my Saturday list.† Here is a picture.
After that I drove up the Teanaway River valley on Teanaway Road.† I was headed to the Teanaway campground, which had great reports of good birds.† On the way up the valley I got the first of a number of Sayís Phoebes that I saw today, a Saturday bird.† I never did get a decent picture of a Sayís Phoebe today.
The campground was a huge disappointment, mainly because there were two or three dozen cars there, along with all the people those cars brought.† I didnít want to walk or drive through the campground looking for birds with all those people there, and the people probably would have driven off most of the birds, anyway.
I backtracked and went to the Swauk Cemetery.† On the way I got Western Kingbird for my Saturday list.† I didnít see anything at the cemetery and I drove up Ley Road.† I saw three birds on a fence wire, and there was blue color there.† I was looking for Mountain Bluebird, so I took a look with my binoculars.† Oopsie!† Not a Mountain Bluebird - two Tree Swallows and a BARN SWALLOW.† I had Tree Swallow already for Saturday, since a couple of them had landed right in front of me in Southern California several weeks ago, but this was my first Barn Swallow of the year.† As I have mentioned, I have been ignoring swallows, but today I saw two species by accident, more or less.† Here is a picture of the Barn Swallow oopsie.
Interestingly, I thought it was a Cliff Swallow at the time.† I havenít been looking at swallows lately, and I usually see them in flight as well.† Anyway, that was the first of three birds today that I changed my identification on after seeing my pictures.
Ley Road is a dead end, and I backtracked and drove down Swauk Prairie Road.† I saw a kestrel and Western Bluebirds, and I got this picture of a Savannah Sparrow in the wind.
The black smudge on its neck is the wind blowing the neck feathers up.
I drove down Bettas Road next.† A couple of weeks ago when I drove down that road, I didnít see any bluebirds at all, but today I saw several Western Bluebirds and also three Mountain Bluebirds.† I needed Mountain for Saturday, but not Western.† Here is a male Mountain Bluebird on a wire.
Here is another picture of the same bird.
I chased it a while, and got this somewhat distant picture of the male Mountain Bluebird that shows off the pretty color of his back.
A little later I pulled over to take a leak and there was another pair of Mountain Bluebirds in some bushes there.† After I took care of my business, I chased the female and finally got this picture of her.
I like the feather detail in that picture, as well as the blue color, of course.
I had been eating my lunch while I drove for the last half hour, at that point.† I had home-made ham and cheese roll-ups (in whole wheat tortillas); peppers, peas, and sliced cucumber; and some lime flavored tortilla chips.† Cheaper, tastier, and better for me than a Subway sandwich or a Mickey Dís gut bomb.† Well, maybe not tastier, but I liked it fine, and it saved time to be able to eat while driving.
I drove to the little town of Kittitas and took a road I had read about but had never driven before, Parke Creek Road.† At one point there was a little wetland and I got one of my target birds for that road, Yellow-headed Blackbird.† I had seen them down in Texas, but not on a Saturday.† Here are two pictures of a male Yellow-headed Blackbird.
I saw some other birds along that road, but nothing new for my lists until I was crossing a little creek on the north portion of the road, and I heard a bird calling.† I didnít recognize it, but I spotted a bird right next to the car.† It was a Wilsonís Snipe, not a bird I was expecting at all.† Here is a picture of the Wilsonís Snipe.
One of the species I was looking for on that road, because of reports, was Cassinís Finch, which would have been a year-bird for me.† I saw a little flock of birds fly off at one point, and when I looked at them, there was red on some of them.† I chased them and played Cassinís Finch calls, and I thought I had found Cassinís Finch, since they sang back to me.† When I got to my room and looked at my pictures, though, I decided they were actually House Finches.† Here is a distant picture of one of the House Finches, not a species I needed.
That was the second species that I changed the identification on after I saw my photos.† It was disappointing to have to take Cassinís Finch off my lists, especially since it would have been a year-bird.
A little farther down the road I saw a male California Quail by the road.† It turns out I didnít need that species for Saturday, but I got a picture of him and his mate as they hustled away down a driveway.
That picture doesnít meet my usual standard of needing to be able to see the birdsí faces, but I thought it was cute the way they were hustling away.
Back at the Old Vantage Highway, I headed east over the hills.† I turned off at the Wild Horse Wind Farm, something I hadnít ever done before.† It turns out that they welcome visitors at their visitor center, which is three miles from the highway.† The road to the visitor center goes through some good sage habitat, so I drove along it.† I pulled over at a wide spot where I could get off the road, and I played some songs of sage species.† I attracted a couple of Sage Thrashers, an excellent one for my Saturday list, and I got this picture of one sitting up in the wind.
The wind has its crest separated.
I played another sage species song and a SAGEBRUSH SPARROW (formerly called Sage Sparrow) responded by flying in and singing back to me.† Here is a picture of a Sagebrush Sparrow singing to me.
I like the way it is perched with its legs on two separate parts of the plant.† Here is a picture of the Sagebrush Sparrow that shows the head markings better.
Those are the best pictures I have ever gotten of that species.† I donít see them every year, and not usually more than once a year when I do see one.† I only had the species at a 50% chance in my spreadsheet, for the whole year.
After that I drove on some more, and when the sage started to peter out, I turned back.† I stopped again at the same place and tried another sage species that I wanted to see there.† To my pleased surprise, I got another response, and a BREWERíS SPARROW flew in and sang back to me.† It was a lot shier than the Sagebrush Sparrow or the Sage Thrasher and it played hide and seek with me for several minutes.† Eventually I got this picture of a Brewerís Sparrow.
I was doing so well that I decided to try for still another species that lives in that area, Vesper Sparrow.† I played the song and a bird seemed to respond, and it perched up and sang back to me.† I took a lot of pictures, thinking I had gotten another year-bird, but when I looked at my pictures, it turned out to be another Sagebrush Sparrow.† That was bird number three that I had to change my identification on today after seeing my pictures on the computer.† Here is a picture of the second Sagebrush Sparrow that I thought was a Vesper Sparrow at the time.
It is a little sobering to have had to change three identifications in one day.† I donít claim to be a great birder, but I thought I was better than that.
Having gotten the sage species I was looking for, I skipped stopping at the two access points to the Quilomeme Wildlife Area that I usually stop at.† The second one had half a dozen vehicles there, along with 6 or 8 people with scopes and binoculars, so I guess that a birding group was in the area today.† Iíll check eBird tonight and tomorrow and maybe I can see who they were.† I felt kind of smug, since I had seen the three sage species that they were no doubt looking for.
I drove down Recreation Road to the river access to try for a bird I have seen there before.† I played the song in several places, but had no luck.† As I drove out, though, I saw a bird on a low wire and stopped the car.† It turned out to be the bird I was looking for, ROCK WREN.† I should have had a picture, but it took me too long to get set up to take it, and just as I was ready, three hikers came down the road and spooked the bird.† It would have been a great picture, but it wasnít to be.† I hung around and played the song some more, but it never came back.† At least I had seen it.
That was it for my birding today.† I headed back to Ellensburg and got checked in to my motel by a little after 4:30.
So, after my adjustments, I got 11 species today, to bring Saturday to 171.† Four of those were year-birds, to make my year total 283 now.† For my BAD bird today, Iíll take Sagebrush Sparrow.
Iím not sure what Iíll do tomorrow, but there are lots of places to look for birds around here.† It is supposed to be less windy tomorrow, which would be nice.† It got up to about 60 today, and tomorrow is supposed to be a little warmer, too.
Sunday, May 7, 2017
I got out of here by 8:45 this morning, early for this old rambler, but late for a real birder.† I was headed for the Prairie Falcon nest site in the Yakima River Canyon, but I had some stops to make on the way.
From my room I got my first new Sunday bird, Black-billed Magpie.† It was the first of maybe 8 or 10 I saw today.† Here is a rather distant picture of the second one Ė not bad considering the distance.
It must have been 150 or 200 feet away.† It helps a lot to be taking pictures from the car, because I can brace myself much better than if I am standing in the open, and that means less motion blur.† Thatís my excuse for doing so much car birding, but Iím also too out of shape to do much walking, so it is easier to bird from the car.† Another excuse is my torn Achilles tendon, but that is somewhat better in recent weeks, and Iím doing more walking as a result.
On my way to Yakima River Canyon, I explored a couple of side roads I hadnít been on before Ė Woodhouse Loop Road and Ringer Loop Road.† On the first of those, I stopped at a fishing access to a small lake and played the calls of Sora, but never got a response.† While I was doing that, though, I saw my first of three Gray Flycatchers of the day, an excellent Sunday bird.† I never was able to get a picture, though.† That turned out to be a theme today Ė pictures I didnít quite get.
On my way back to Canyon Road from Ringer Loop Road, I saw my first of several Sayís Phoebeís of the day, another good Sunday bird.† That was another one I wasnít ever able to get a picture of today.
My first real birding stop was Umtanum Creek Recreation Area.† There is a pedestrian bridge over the Yakima River there, and a trail that goes up Umtanum Creek to a trailhead that I visited in the afternoon.† I walked across the bridge and on the other side I talked briefly with three birders who were coming back.† I imagine they were out there at 7 this morning, and their day of birding that area was over just as I was starting at 9:45.† They told me of all the great birds they had seen, and I got hopeful, although I knew that being 2 or 3 hours later was going to be a handicap, and also, they had three sets of ears and eyes to detect the birds, while I had only one set, and my ears are marginal.
I soon saw some birds, but I was never able to identify them.† I had great looks at one species, more than once, but I donít know what it was, unless it was Orange-crowned Warbler, which is quite possible.† I moved on up the trail, and it was remarkably un-birdy.† It was a beautiful morning, with temperatures in the high 50ís at that point, and bright sunshine.† It was a little windy, though.† Here is a picture of the trail that runs up next to Umtanum Creek.
I walked as far up the trail as I have ever gone, I think, but almost no birds.† As I got back near the start of the trail, though, I saw some things.
I played the song, and a couple of WARBLING VIREOS flew in to check me out, my first of the year.† I tried repeatedly to get a picture, but that was another picture failure today.† At one time I was almost going to get a picture and a couple of hikers came along and spooked the bird.† The place was like Grand Central Station by the time I left Ė hikers all over the place.† When I had gotten there, there were maybe a dozen cars in the parking lot, but when I left there were 2 or 3 dozen.† Probably three.† It was a good lesson for me.† I usually do my birding in popular areas on week days, and this was a great sunny day on a Sunday in late spring.
Anyway, before I left that spot where I saw the Warbling Vireos, I saw a male LAZULI BUNTING, which flew on almost immediately, and three Black-headed Grosbeaks for my Sunday list.† They all eluded me for pictures, of course.
It wasnít a really productive stop in terms of birds, but it was a beautiful walk and I did pick up three migrants, two of which were new for my year list.
I stopped at the Lmuma Creek access, just to see what I could find, and I saw another Warbling Vireo, but again, no pictures.† I also saw two male and one female BULLOCKíS ORIOLES, my first of the year, and another returning migrant.† This is getting repetitive, but again, no pictures.
I stopped at the fishing access at milepost 10 because there is supposed to be a Prairie Falcon nest across the river.† I have seen them at that nest in past years.† I think it is too early for there to be young ones yet, though, and there arenít many comings and goings while the female is sitting on the eggs.† I didnít see any Prairie Falcons.
I did see a finch, though, and I thought I had Cassinís Finch, just like I had thought yesterday.† I got some pictures and played its song.† He sang back to me, and it sounded to me like the same song.† The House Finch song is similar, though, and my pictures told me that what I had was a male House Finch.† Here is a picture of what I think is a male Hous Finch.
In that picture, it doesnít look much like the House Finches I see at our feeder at home, but thatís what I think it was, unfortunately.
My next stop was a parking place just north of milepost 4.† There is supposedly another Prairie Falcon nest site there, and I found the cave they are supposed to be nesting in with no problem.† No bird activity, though, probably because the female is simply sitting on the eggs still.† The pair was seen copulating at the very end of March, but it takes about a month for the eggs to hatch, and I donít know how long it is after copulation before the eggs are actually laid.† In a couple of weeks, it will probably be a good place to visit.
While I was there I saw some wild mountain sheep on the hillside across the river.† Here are some very distant pictures.
It was coming up onto noon by then, and I had to decide what to do next.† One option was to check out the Wenas campground area and then drive across North Wenas Road and Umptanum Road back to Ellensburg.† I had read that the campground only opened on May 1, though, and that they were working on the access road in May.† Also, one person had told me that there was a washout on Umptanum Road and getting past it might be a problem.† I decided to just give it a try and see for myself.
I stopped at Hardy Canyon on my way to Wenas campground and walked across Wenas Creek to where the trail starts up the canyon.† I saw a flycatcher and it turned out to be my first WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE of the year.† I took a lot of pictures, but none of them are really in focus because my camera kept insisting on focusing on the background behind the bird.† This is the best one of the lot Ė Western Wood-Pewee.
I went to the Wenas Creek crossing on Maloy Road, but saw nothing there.† Then I went up Audubon Road to the Wenas campground.† I could see that they indeed had been working on the road, but it was much improved from the last time I saw it.† It was very rocky, but not potholed.† I was astounded by all the damn traffic.† Everyone and his brother seemed to be out there today, enjoying the great outdoors.† I was driving on unpaved roads in what seemed to me like the back of beyond, but there was nonstop traffic.† Many of the people had trucks and trailers with off-road vehicles that they obviously were using to careen around the forest roads.
Anyway, I saw nothing at all on my way in to the campground, although part of that was because I had to pay attention to the rough road.† I saw nothing at all in the campground itself, except the aforementioned off-road vehicles tearing around.† I walked around a little, but soon gave up.† On my way out I actually saw an excellent year bird, LEWISíS WOODPECKER.† It was perched against the bright sky and was distant, but I took, some pictures.† It flew to a little better vantage point, and I got this picture that is enough to identify the species with, anyway.† Here is a Lewisís Woodpecker.
Back at the junction of Audubon Road and North Wenas Road, I decided to try going over Ellensburg Pass back to Ellensburg.† As it turned out, there was no problem.† There was one place that might have washed out, but it had been repaired, and I had no problem.† There were bluebird nesting boxes along that road, and I wanted to get both bluebirds for Sunday.† Here is a male Western Bluebird picture that I like.
Here is a female Western Bluebird from the front.
On my way up to the pass I saw a little bird fly across the road, and I managed to see a House Wren for Sunday, although it eluded me for a picture.
Once over the pass, I came to a place that I recognized.† I have been studiously avoiding looking at swallows, but this was a place I had seen swallows that I wanted to see.† I stopped and there indeed were two or three swallows flying around.† It was difficult to get a good view of them in flight, but eventually I decided that they were indeed BANK SWALLOWS, a difficult swallow species to see.† They nest out in the Snoqualmie River Valley, in banks of the river, but they are hard to see.† I also have seen them in Malheur, where I plan to go later this month, but I was happy to see them today.
I stopped very briefly at the trailhead for the Umtanum Creek trail, but it was packed with cars.† I donít think I have ever seen more than 3 or 4 cars there, but there were 18 of them today, with some empty places where people had already left.† I really had underestimated the number of people who would be out in that area on a sunny spring Sunday.
I continued on to the sage areas of Umptanum Road.† (Note that the creek and wildlife area are called Umtanum, but the road is named Umptanum, with a ďpĒ.† I read the explanation once, but I have forgotten it.† It is very confusing.)† I stopped two or three times and played the song of Sage Thrasher, and eventually one flew in and checked me out briefly.† I got just one picture, but it came out pretty good, I think.
I finally saw several Mountain Bluebirds after that, but didnít get a picture, partly because cars kept coming along just as I was about to get a picture.† I donít know why people are so inconsiderate.† Couldnít they do their recreating on some other day than when Iím out there birding and trying to take pictures?† Itís only a few days a year Ė they could surely just stay home on those days.
I got this picture of a Mourning Dove, although I didnít need it for any lists.
When I came down from the hills into the outskirts of Ellensburg, I had some spare time, so I drove around some country roads looking for quail.† I knew they were common there, and I hoped to see some for my Sunday list.† At one point I saw something else interesting, though.† There was a Killdeer in a field and there were two little Killdeer chicks running around the field feeding.† Here is a picture of the parent Killdeer, watching over the chicks.
I couldnít get a good focus on the chicks, but here is a somewhat blurry picture of one of the little cuties.
I think this is the other one.
Check out the wispy little tail on that one.
That was fun, but I continued on my quest for quail.† At one point I saw some birds in the road in the distance, and I was able to determine they were California Quail, so that one went on my Sunday list.† As I approached where they had been, I saw some others.† I think I ended up seeing maybe 6 or more pairs of them.† They had all been in a group, I think, and were crossing the road.† Traffic disrupted them, and they kept crossing the road two at a time, male and female.† I tried for pictures, but they are all unusable except the last one, which shows a pair of California Quail waiting to cross the road.
I continued along that road and it looped back to where I had seen the Killdeer in the field.† I stopped to look to see if the Killdeer were closer to the road than before, and I heard a quail calling.† I looked around and saw a male on a post, calling from time to time.† A male often will take up a watching post like that, while the rest of the flock (covey, I guess) are feeding in the grass or bushes.† This male was remarkably tolerant of me, and I got some pictures from the car.† Here is the male California Quail keeping guard.
I was able to drive even closer, around his back side, and got this picture from the back.
That was the end of my birding today.† I drove back to my motel, taking a brief detour on the freeway to blow some of the accumulated dust off my car, especially off the rear end.† The dusty dirt roads today had taken their toll and sent some dust home with me.† I got back to the motel shortly after 4:30.† I start late, but I make up for it by ending early, like any good dilettante birder would.
The morning today was slow, but the afternoon picked up.† Like yesterday, it seemed like I didnít see many birds, but my lists actually did quite well.† I added 15 to my Sunday list, to bring me to 174 on Sunday.† I completed one species (Western Bluebird), to make 83 species completed now.† I got 6 new ones for the year, to make my year total 289 now.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Lewisís Woodpecker, although there were several other choices that would have been almost as good.
Tomorrow I plan to drive back over the mountains to home, but first I hope to add some birds to my Monday list.† I have some ideas, but I need to make some decisions about where to go tomorrow, and it will depend partly on the weather forecast, the wind in particular.
Monday, May 8, 2017
It was much less windy this morning and the sun was shining.† I got away about 9:15 and drove out to Kittitas and went up Parke Creek Road.† I was specifically looking for quail, and I saw a single male California Quail along the road, a good start to my list of new Monday birds.† At the marshy area I saw some Yellow-headed Blackbirds, just as I had on Saturday.† That was another good Monday bird.† I went on to the Wild Horse Wind Farm, where I had seen the three sage species on Saturday.† At the entrance there was a Say's Phoebe, which completed that species for me.† It flew off before I could get close enough for a picture.† I went on to the place where I had seen the three sage species on Saturday and played some songs.
I saw a Sage Thrasher even before I played its song, and when I did play it, another one popped up as well.† Next I tried Sagebrush Sparrow, and soon one perched on top of a bush and sang back to me.† Here is a picture of the Sagebrush Sparrow singing to me this morning.
I tried playing the Brewer's Sparrow song, but didn't get any response.† I moved back along the road and tried at another place, and I saw a bird fly in toward me, down low.† Brewer's Sparrows don't just perch up and sing like Sagebrush Sparrows and Sage Thrashers.† Brewer's Sparrows kind of sneak up on you, moving from bush to bush down low, without really showing themselves.† I ended up attracting a couple of them this morning, and I got good binocular looks, but I never got a picture, as they played hide and seek with me in the sage.
So, having gotten what I was looking for there, I headed back west toward home.† My next birding destination was Bettas Road.† I wanted to see Mountain Bluebird, and I wanted to try for a sparrow I hadn't seen yet this year.† I went to where I had seen a pair of Mountain Bluebirds on Saturday, but they weren't around.† I played the sparrow song, and a VESPER SPARROW flew in.† It only hung around a short while, and it never really came out in the open, so no pictures.† I got a good look at it, though.† I had never attracted a Vesper Sparrow by playing its song before, so it was great to find out they can be responsive to playback.† I only had Vesper Sparrow at a 50% probability in my spreadsheet, any time this year, so getting one today was excellent.
A short time later I got my Mountain Bluebird for Monday.† Here is a somewhat distant picture of a male Mountain Bluebird.
Back at the place I had seen the Vesper Sparrow, a male Mountain Bluebird was hanging out near the nest box there.† It flew across the road but stayed in sight while I pulled the car pretty close.† Here is a closer shot of a male Mountain Bluebird.† I like the detail on the wings (as well as the beautiful blue color, of course).
A little later I got this picture of a male Western Bluebird on a wire.
There were some Chipping Sparrows along Bettas Road, too.† Ironically, I had only seen Chipping Sparrow twice before this year, before this weekend, and those sightings were on a Saturday and a Monday, the same days that I saw them this weekend.† So, it wasn't one for any lists, but I got this picture I like of a Chipping Sparrow.
I tried playing the song of House Wren along there, but never got a response.† Next I moved on to Swauk Prairie Road.† I stopped where I had seen Mountain Chickadees on Saturday and played their song.† I expected to see one, but never did.† Interestingly, while looking for Mountain Chickadee, I heard a wren singing, and I got House Wren for my Monday list.† Here is a picture of a House Wren singing.
I saw more Chipping Sparrows along Swauk Prairie Road, and some Western Meadowlarks, a species I have completed already.† Here are two pictures of a Western Meadowlark singing.† One shows its back and one shows its front.
I drove through the Swauk Cemetery, but I didn't see any birds there. †On Ballard Hill Road, I stopped where I had seen a Pygmy Nuthatch nest snag on Saturday.† I didnít see any birds flying around the nest snag, so I played the song of Pygmy Nuthatch.† One flew in to check me out, and I got this picture of a Pygmy Nuthatch.
At that same place, there was an American Kestrel on the top of a tree, and I got this picture, looking up at it.
I looked for the Western Kingbird I had seen on Ballard Hill Road on Saturday, but I never saw it.† I saw a group of male and female Brown-headed Cowbirds, so that one went on to my Monday list.† I would have preferred not to have seen them, because I can get that species here at home, but I take them when I see them, assuming I get a good enough look to identify the species.† Along those lines, I continued to ignore swallows today.† They are everywhere, and I have to remember not to look closely at them.
I continued toward Cle Elum, but I took a road that was new to me, Red Bridge Road.† It parallels the main highway, but through farmland and woods.† I saw a Say's Phoebe at one point, and finally got a usable picture of Say's Phoebe, after trying all weekend.
As the road crossed the Teanaway River, it occurred to me that this would be a good place for a bird that I particularly like, but that I hadn't seen yet this year.† I slowed down and looked at the river edges and a dark colored bird flew in and landed.† I got my binoculars on it, and it turned out to be the very species I was thinking of, AMERICAN DIPPER.† I parked my car and went back onto the bridge and took some distant pictures.† It was too far away for much detail to show, but this shot shows the distinct profile of an American Dipper.
I watched as it dove under the water repeatedly, looking for snails or whatever aquatic goodies it eats.† Here is a picture of it plunging its head into the water, looking for food.
As I watched, it would disappear completely, swimming underwater as it looked for food.† Here is a picture of the Teanaway River from that bridge.
Dippers nest under bridges, so that's where to look for them, near bridges over running water.
That was fun, and I moved on into Cle Elum.† I decided to skip the Railroad Ponds this time, and I went into the little town of Roslyn instead.† I had seen a house with hummingbird feeders a year or two ago, and I found my way to it again.† They still had feeders, and there were hummingbirds coming to them.† I sat across the street in my car, pretty far away, but I got some distant pictures.† There were two possible species of hummingbird that would be likely to be there at this time of year, and I needed both for my Monday list.† One would be a year-bird, too.
It was easy to identify a male Rufous Hummingbird, as this picture shows.
The other hummers I saw were all females, and the difference between the two species is very subtle.† I wasnít sure at the time of the exact differences, and I knew I would need pictures to be able to tell them apart anyway, so I took a number of pictures.† Here is a picture that shows females of both species at a feeder at the same time.
The one on the left is a female Rufous Hummingbird, and I think the one on the right is a female CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD.† You can see that the one on the right is a little smaller, and if you look closely, you can see that the wings on the bird on the right extend slightly beyond the tail, while the wings of the bird on the left are just shorter than the tail.† Those are two of the ways to tell the two species apart.† Here is a really heavily cropped picture of what I believe is a female Calliope Hummingbird, showing that the wings extend slightly beyond the tail.
Here is a picture of a female Calliope Hummingbird hovering.† It has a pot-bellied appearance, which is another mark of Calliope Hummingbird.† The area between the eyes and the bill is also characteristic of Calliope, not Rufous.
As I said, the differences are subtle, but I'm convinced I had both species there.† While I was taking hummingbird pictures, a Steller's Jay was hanging around and calling, and I got this picture of it.
My next stop was Bullfrog Pond.† Other people see all kinds of great birds there, but I haven't ever been very successful there.† I walked to the river and did get a distant view of another American Dipper, under the highway bridge.† I've seen dippers there before, but they are always very distant.† It was a two dipper day for me, which is rare.
I headed for home, but I had a little extra time, so I pulled off the freeway at Golf Course Road and went to the public fishing access that is west of the off ramp.† I played the song of Warbling Vireo, which I have seen there before, and one flew in and sang back to me.† One thing about most vireos is that once you get them singing, they keep it up for a long time.† Today I finally got a picture of a Warbling Vireo, after failing to do so several times on Sunday.
So, that was it for my three-day birding adventure.† For some reason I couldn't discern, they had Interstate 90 down to one lane at one point, and that cost me about 15 minutes in traffic, but I got home just before 4:00 anyway, beating the worst of the rush hour traffic.
For today, I got 15 species for my Monday list, to bring it to 174.† Three of those were new for the year, to make my year total 292 now.† I completed Say's Phoebe, which makes 84 species complete now.† For my BAD bird today, I'll take Vesper Sparrow.
The trip was certainly successful, as far as numbers are concerned.† I wanted to beef up my Saturday, Sunday, and Monday totals, and I did so.† I got 11 new Saturday birds, 15 new Sunday birds, and 15 new Monday birds.† All my days are now between 167 and 174.† I got 13 new year-birds, too.
Now I need to get back into my home birding mode, looking for day-birds each day, while also trying to see a good BAD each day.† The spring migrants should be coming back in force very soon, which will make it easier and more fun.
Tuesday, May 9, 2017
I had a loose plan this morning that centered around finding a good BAD bird.† I needed to be in Bellevue at 11:30, so I was limited in time.† My first stop was out in the Sammanish Slough Valley, along NE 124th, where there is a flooded field that has had some shorebirds reported lately.† There is a good place to pull off the road, and I got out and set up my scope.† There were indeed shorebirds out there, but they were very distant.† There were heat waves due to looking over a plowed field, and I was only able to identify two species, although there was at least one more species, and maybe more.† I didnít need either species I could identify for Wednesday, Greater Yellowlegs and Long-billed Dowitcher, but I hadn't used either one for a BAD bird yet.
I moved on to a site near Sikes Lake, out near Carnation in the Snoqualmie River Valley, where Sora had been reported.† As I pulled into the only place to park, I heard a Sora call, so I had my target species, which I needed for Tuesday.† It would be an excellent BAD bird, too, one of the local ones I have labeled "difficult" in my spreadsheet of potential BAD birds.† I got out and played the two different calls of Sora, and I repeatedly got responses.† I heard both Sora calls, and they are both very distinctive and unmistakable.† I walked out into the muddy field a little way, but never could see a Sora, although there were at least two of them there, maybe more.† I took this picture of a male Red-winged Blackbird there.
I drove around the Sikes Lake area, but I didn't see anything else, and I went off to my lunch appointment.† After lunch, my friend, Chris and I went over to Phantom Lake, as usual, and we saw a Black-headed Grosbeak there.† That is one of the returning migrants, and my first one on a Tuesday this year.† Here are two pictures of a male Black-headed Grosbeak.
So, I got 2 species today for Tuesday, to bring it to 169 species.† As for my BAD bird, Sora would be an excellent one, but Long-billed Dowitcher wasn't even on my list of potential BAD birds.† There are a few of them moving through here on their migration to the far north, and I hadn't figured on seeing one locally this year.† I saw them in California, though, so it wasn't new for Tuesday.† So, I took Long-billed Dowitcher for my BAD bird.† Sora is a migrant that breeds here.† They are uncommon, but they should be around, anyway, and now that I know where at least of two of them are, I'll figure I can go back there and get it again, for as long as there is water in that field.† At least, I'll hope so.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017
Today I went up into the mountains near the town of Snoqualmie.† I had seen a report that had a lot of great birds on it, so I thought I'd give it a go.† I parked at the west trailhead for the Rattlesnake Ridge trail, which is adjacent to Snoqualmie Point Park.† It was a nice sunny day, and I had a nice walk around in the woods and at the edge of the woods.† I didn't see many birds, though.† I never do well in forests, but I keep trying.
I did hear a bird calling and I thought I recognized it.† I played the song of Warbling Vireo, and one flew in and sang back to me.† It kept it up for at least ten minutes, but I never could see the bird.† Still, it was clear what it was, so it went on to my Wednesday list.
I kept playing the songs of Pacific Wren because the habitat looked great for it, and the report I had seen had mentioned seeing several of them.† I never got a response, even though I played the songs in at least a dozen places that looked good for it.
I tried another species, and I did get a couple of brief looks at my first SWAINSON'S THRUSH† of the year.† It was shy, though, and I couldnít ever get a picture.† I got a brief look at a Wilson's Warbler, too, but ironically, Wednesday was the one day of the week that I had already seen Wilson's Warbler on this year.† The only picture I got there was this Song Sparrow.
Another commonly reported species there was Black-throated Gray Warbler, and I did see two of them for sure, and maybe one or two more that I wasnít sure about.† I also saw a couple of Orange-crowned Warblers, which I didn't need for Wednesday.
After an hour and a half or so, I threw in the towel and started toward home.† I stopped at Tokul Creek, where it runs into the Snoqualmie River below Snoqualmie Falls, to look for American Dipper.† I didn't see one.† I ate my lunch, which I had brought from home, at the lower Snoqualmie Falls park, which I hadn't visited before.
So, I ended up adding just 3 species to my Wednesday list, but one of them was a year-bird.† That gives me 178 species on Wednesday and 293 for the year.† I had three decent choices for my BAD bird - Swainson's Thrush, Wilson's Warbler, and Warbling Vireo.† I ended up deciding to take Warbling Vireo for my BAD bird today.
It's supposed to rain tomorrow, so I need to scare up a rainy day bird or two.
Thursday, May 11, 2017
To my surprise, it wasn't raining this morning, like they said it was going to, so I headed up to Edmonds, to try for some Thursday birds, and maybe a good BAD bird.† There were actually a few blue patches in the sky as I got there, and the sun broke through briefly.† I walked out onto the fishing pier with my scope, and I saw some good birds.† I got Western Grebe and Rhinoceros Auklet for my Thursday list, and also saw Caspian Tern, Pigeon Guillemot, Marbled Murrelet, and a Pacific Loon in breeding plumage - some of them from Sunset Avenue.† I didn't need any of those last four for Thursday, and I couldn't use any of the six species for a BAD bird, having already used all of them this year.
I wanted to try to get a decent BAD bird, so I stopped at Yost Park, although it had started to sprinkle by then.† I walked around Yost Park for a while, playing Hutton's Vireo and Golden-crowned Kinglet, but never had any responses.† I saw very little, but I did see a Brown Creeper for my Thursday list. †There was too little light to try for a picture, and I had already used Brown Creeper for a BAD bird this year.
It was raining pretty hard by the time I left, but I stopped at the boat launch in Kenmore on the Sammamish Slough and managed to see a Great Blue Heron.† I long ago completed Great Blue Heron, of course, but I figured I could use it for a BAD bird if I had to.† It is one of the easy species that I'm "saving".
I had my lunch and read for a while, until I finished my book.† The book was due back at the library today, so I took it back.† The rain had stopped for the time being, so I decided to head out to try for a better BAD bird than Great Blue Heron.† One tactic I use in my BAD bid game is to try to use difficult birds when I can, saving the easy ones for later, when I might not have a choice.
I stopped on NE 124th where I had seen some shorebirds earlier in the week, but there were no shorebirds at all there this afternoon.† I decided to go on to the Snoqualmie River Valley near Sikes Lake, where I had heard Sora a couple of days ago.† Soras are usually quite responsive to playback, and I thought I might as well give it a try.† When I was about halfway there, I realized I had left my phone at home, and I needed the phone to play the bird calls.† Oopsie!† I made the questionable decision to continue, in the hopes that a Sora might call, even without the provocation of me playing its calls.
When I got there, it had started to rain again, lightly, but I hung around, standing out in the light rain, for about ten minutes.† I heard no sounds of a Sora, and I had to ignore all the swallows swooping around over the marsh.† Forgetting my phone was a problem.
After ten or fifteen minutes, I headed for home, but I went by a slightly roundabout route, in the hopes I might see a kestrel or a Turkey Vulture, either of which would be a better BAD bird than Great Blue Heron.† I had no luck with that plan, either, but then I saw a pheasant in the middle of the road ahead of me.† That was a great BAD bird, although I didn't actually need it for Thursday.† I must have driven that road over a dozen times this year, and I had never seen a pheasant, but today was the day.† The bird was walking slowly down the side of the road, not paying any attention to me.† I had to pull my car across the road to take pictures out my window, but the road has little traffic, and no cars came along while I chased the pheasant in a slow motion chase.† Here is the male Ring-necked Pheasant walking away from me.
Here is another picture of him as he crossed the road.
Here is still another one, on my side of the road.
Here is a close-up of his colorful head.
Finally, here is a picture of him in the very green spring grass, as he went off into the field.
OK, that's a lot of pheasant pictures, but I had so little to show in this report that I went overboard.
I got 3 more species for Thursday today, to bring my total for Thursday to 177 species.† I completed Western Grebe today, to make 85 species complete now.† For my BAD bird, I'll gladly take Ring-necked Pheasant.† I don't see them locally very often, so it was very welcome.
Here is the real irony of the day.† I had forgotten my phone, so I missed my best shot at getting Sora, which would have been an excellent BAD bird.† Ironically, though, if I had heard Sora, I still would have taken Ring-necked Pheasant because that is an even better BAD bird.† It's better to be lucky than good, and today I was lucky, even though I had gone off without my phone this afternoon.† What a life!
Friday, May 12, 2017
It was supposed to be showery today, but it was dry when I got up.† My first stop this morning was the flooded field on NE 124th St, just east of Willows Road.† That's where I hadn't seen any shorebirds yesterday afternoon.† There was a report from some guy that he had seen a number of shorebirds at 6:45 yesterday evening, so I stopped there this morning to see if they were still there.† The answer was no.† Not a shorebird in sight.† They are migrating through here right now, and I think they fly in late in the afternoon and then take off again the next morning, after eating as much as they can and spending the night.† Some birds migrate at night, too, but I donít know which ones.
Anyway, I saw nothing there this morning and my next stop was the Redmond retention ponds.† There was nothing interesting there, either.† So, I moved on to the place where I had heard at least two Soras on Wednesday.† I expected it would be easy to get a response from one, because Soras are normally quite responsive to playback, but I heard nothing after playing the calls.† Maybe they were just passing through on Wednesday, not settling in there.† They are migrants, but some of them spend the summer here and breed, I think.† While I was there trying to get a response from a Sora, I heard a bird singing, and it turned out to be a male American Goldfinch.† I got this picture.
Next I went to the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Valley Wildlife Area.† That's where I had heard American Bittern on each of my five previous visits.† I still hadn't used it as a BAD bird, and after I struck out on Sora, I wanted bittern for my BAD bird today.† I was there for at least two hours, but I never heard a bittern.† I wonder if they were calling on my previous visits because they were looking for mates at that time, and now they are all paired up and not calling any more.† I'll go back and try again, but it surprised me today when I missed hearing one, after hearing them five times in a row.
I saw my first Friday bird there, a female Hooded Merganser, to complete that species.† Here is a picture of the female Hooded Merganser, partly behind a log.
I walked up and down the trail, but I didnít see much.† There were Spotted Towhees feeding along the trail, as usual, and I got this picture.
I show a lot of pictures of Spotted Towhees because I think they are a striking bird and they pose so nicely.† I got tricked by a swallow about then, too.† I was ignoring swallows, like I always do, but I saw a bird perched at the top of a snag, and it wasn't immediately obvious to me what it was, so I looked with my binoculars.† It turned out to be a Northern Rough-winged Swallow, so that one went on to my Friday list.† Here is a picture of the little deceiver.
There are four more common species of swallows around here, and this one fooled me because it is so plain looking.
I saw a single Cedar Waxwing about then, a nice one for my Friday list.† I wasnít able to get a picture, unfortunately.† Soon after that I met another birder and we swapped stories of what we had been seeing.† He had seen a whole lot more than I had today.† While we were talking I spotted a Brown Creeper, another Friday bird.† Again, no picture.
One of the species he had seen was Bullock's Oriole, and while we were talking he saw one again.† As he was showing me where it was, it actually flew right in and moved around in a little bush almost right in front of us.† We both took pictures and I added it to my Friday list.† Here is an interesting view of a male Bullock's Oriole.
Unfortunately, the camera focused on the leaves in front of the bird, so he is somewhat out of focus, but I think it is an interesting shot anyway.† Here is another view of the male Bullock's Oriole.
There was a pair of American Goldfinches, which I completed long ago, but we both took pictures of them.† Here is the male American Goldfinch.
Here is the less colorful female American Goldfinch for comparison.
It started to rain about then, and I headed back to my car.† The rain soon let up, and I stayed on, looking for birds, but never saw anything else I needed.† On my way home, I stopped again at the Sora spot and again played their calls.† Again, I got no responses.† Like yesterday afternoon, I went home by the roundabout way where I had seen the pheasant yesterday.† No pheasant today, but I saw male Common Yellowthroats in two different places.† I wasn't able to get a picture of the first one, but I got these two pictures of the second male Common Yellowthroat.
That was another Friday bird.
That was it for today.† I added 6 species to my Friday list, to bring it to 175.† I completed one species (Hooded Merganser) to make 86 species complete now.† For my BAD bird today, I'll take Bullock's Oriole.† I had expected to at least hear both Sora and American Bittern, neither of which I have used for a BAD bird yet this year, but I dipped on both of them.† I need to check my lists, but I might try for them again tomorrow.
Saturday, May 13, 2017
It was supposed to be still another showery day, but it wasnít raining when I set out.† I stopped at the flooded field along NE 124th St, but there was only one shorebird there, and I could tell with binoculars that it wasn't one I needed.† I drove on to the Sora spot on NE 80th St near Sikes Lake to try for Sora again.† This time when I played the calls of Sora I heard a response.† There was only the one response, but that was enough to count Sora as a "heard only" bird for the day.† Maybe they will be there for a while, and maybe I can get responses again.† I doubt I would ever see one there, because of the habitat, but hearing one is good enough.† Fortunately, they are responsive to playback and both of their calls are very distinctive.
At that point, rain was threatening, and I decided not to go over to Stillwater to try for migrants there.† Instead I drove all the way back past home to Wallace Swamp Creek Park, to see what I could see or hear there.
I had some rain on the way, but it wasn't raining at the park, so I set out walking with my camera and my binoculars.† I checked out the robin's nest I had seen last week, but it seemed abandoned.† When I got back to the main path through the park I heard a bird singing, and I thought I recognized it (against all odds).† I played the song on my phone, and I decided it was indeed a Warbling Vireo.† It sang a little more, but I could never find it in the trees.† It was an excellent Saturday bird, though.† I feel confident of the identification.
I continued on through the park and ran into Linda, the woman who had shown me the various birds' nests last week.† She walks her dog in the park just about every day and knows where all the birds are found.† She pointed out the location of another nest, a Red-breasted Nuthatch nest, which is a hole in a snag.† The hole was on the opposite side of the snag than where we could view it from, though.† She saw a nuthatch fly to the hole a couple of times, but I never got a good enough look at it to count it.
There were Bushtits in the area around their nest, but I didn't need Bushtit for Saturday.† We saw a couple of Wilson's Warblers, and that was a good one for Saturday.† They didn't offer any photo ops, though.† One of the hummingbird nests she had shown me had been destroyed, but the other one had a couple of baby birds in it.† Here is a picture of the two baby Anna's Hummingbirds in their nest.
Linda could hear the mama bird nearby, and we waited to try for a picture of her at the nest, but she never went to the nest while we watched.† Still, it was cool to get a picture of a couple of baby hummingbirds.
On our way back toward the car Linda spotted a male Black-headed Grosbeak at the top of a tree.† I was looking up into the bright sky, so the picture is lousy, but here is a picture of the male Black-headed Grosbeak, which I needed for Saturday.
Linda also spotted a Red-breasted Sapsucker, which I needed for Saturday.† It flew off before I could get a picture, though.
By the time I got back to my car, it was almost noon, so I went home.† I got this picture of a female Northern Flicker in the long grass in our yard.
Here is a picture that shows the black patch on her breast, as she looked toward me.
I also got this picture of a female Red-winged Blackbird outside our back door in the cherry tree.
That was it for today.† Not a lot of action, not a lot of birds, and not a lot of pictures, but I managed to add 5 species to my Saturday total, to bring it to 176.† All seven days of the week are now tightly clustered, between 169 and 178.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Sora.
Tomorrow is supposed to be showery again, but it is Mother's Day, so I'll probably stay home to honor my wife, who is the mother of my children.† Nah, maybe not.† Maybe I'll go looking for a bird in the morning and do the honoring thing in the afternoon.† Life rolls on.
Sunday, May 14, 2017
Happy Mother's Day to all those moms out there.† It was looking threatening out there this morning, but I set off to the Snoqualmie River Valley to see what I could find.† My first stop was at the Sora site, but I got no responses to my playback of their calls this morning.† Of course, there were dozens of swallows swooping over the marsh, but I studiously ignored them.† How long can I go on ignoring swallows?
I went on to the Stillwater Unit and walked down the trail toward the area where the bitterns were calling a week or two ago.† I never heard a bittern call today, despite being there for a couple of hours.† I find it very interesting that I heard them the first five times I went there this year and got pictures of them on three of those visits, but I haven't even heard one in the last two visits.† On those first five visits, they were calling repeatedly; now there is only silence.
It was very quiet today, with little bird action.† I did see a male Hairy Woodpecker, which I didn't need, and I got these two pictures of him.
Hairy Woodpecker is a "good" bird, and I had only seen that species on two days of the week this year, but one of those days happened to have been a Sunday.
I was playing the songs of Swainson's Thrush and Golden-crowned Kinglet from time to time.† I never got any response from either of those species, but twice a pair of Black-capped Chickadees were quite interested in the kinglet songs.† The second time, one flew in and perched right in front of me, and I got some of the closest and best shots of Black-capped Chickadee that I have ever gotten.
Here is a real close-up shot of the little cutie.
I like this next shot because it shows the intricate feather patterns all over its body.
I ran into another birder on the trail, and he showed me a robin's nest.† Here is a picture of a couple of baby American Robins in their nest.
There seemed to be only two of them, and they were bigger than I realized.† Here is a picture that shows their size better.
Here is a picture of one of the young American Robins flapping its wings.† They will be fledging within a few days, I would think.
Despite watching off and on for ten or fifteen minutes, we never saw any sign of a parent robin at the nest or nearby.
The guy I met said someone had told him that there was a Red-winged Blackbird nest in that stretch of the trail, too.† We both looked for it, and I was the first to spot it.† Here is a Red-winged Blackbird nest with some nestlings in it and the female in attendance.
The male was taking part in feeding the young, too.† Here is a picture of the male Red-winged Blackbird at the nest.
Here is another picture of the female at the nest, feeding the young.
Birds of most species have an interesting way to keep their nests clean of baby bird poop.† The young nestlings excrete their poop in a membrane, which is referred to as a fecal sac.† The parents then carry the fecal sac away from the nest and dispose of it.† Here is a blurry picture showing the female Red-winged Blackbird carrying a fecal sac away from the nest.
I thought that was pretty cool.† I had read about fecal sacs, but I don't recall ever seeing a bird disposing of one before.† Later we saw her carrying another one away from the nest.
Here is another picture of the male Red-winged Blackbird at the nest.
Up until then I thought there were only two babies in the nest, but this next shot shows that there were actually four.
Here is a closer crop of that picture, showing all four young blackbirds.† One is kind of behind the others and you can see its mouth between the two on the right in front.
They are also a lot bigger than I had realized.† Here is a picture showing one of them standing up.
I'm surprised that four of them that size could fit in the nest.† The parents were feeding them pretty much nonstop, and I can see why.
While watching the blackbird nest, I saw a Turkey Vulture overhead, and that was a candidate for BAD bird.† I also saw a male Common Yellowthroat with what I think was a recent fledgling.† I still needed a Sunday bird, though, and I was about ready to give up and take a swallow species, but then I noticed that one of the "swallows" overhead was actually a VAUX'S SWIFT, my first of the year.† Vaux's rhymes with boxes, by the way.† That was a great bird to see, and I got another view of it as it flew right overhead.† It was definitely a swift, not a swallow, and the only swifts that are here right now are Vaux's Swifts.† Later there will be Black Swifts too, and then it will be more difficult to determine which swift species I'm seeing.† Black Swifts are larger than swallows, though, while Vaux's Swifts are smaller than swallows, so that helps sometimes.
I started back toward my car and a birding couple I met pointed out a Brown Creeper to me, but I couldn't get a picture and I didn't need it for any lists.† Still another woman birder who had come along had told us of another Red-winged Blackbird nest up the trail, and I found that one, too.† Here is a picture of a female Red-winged Blackbird at a second nest.
Here is the male Red-winged Blackbird at that nest.
I heard the rattling call that a Belted Kingfisher gives as it flies, and I watched it land in the distance.† The bird was a long distance away, but I got a couple of pictures to show anyway.† I like kingfishers partly because they are blue.
Here is another picture of the male Belted Kingfisher.† Rain had started to fall by then, and you can see a few streaks of rain in this next shot.
That bird was a long way away, and I'm happy that my camera would get these pictures while I was hand-holding it in fairly low light.
I was making my way back toward my car and a male Spotted Towhee flew into a bush and started singing to me.† I think that Spotted Towhees are very striking birds, and I couldn't resist taking pictures.† Here is one of him singing to me and posing.
He had something stuck to the end of the lower part of his bill.† You can see it in this next picture.
So, that was it for today.† I only got one Sunday bird, to bring me to 175 species for Sunday.† That one bird (Vaux's Swift) was a year-bird, anyway, to bring me to 294 species for the year.† For my BAD bird I'll take that same species, Vaux's Swift.† It wasn't a very birdy day, but I got a lot of pictures at least.
Monday, May 15, 2017
This morning I headed out to the Snoqualmie River Valley again.† I stopped again at the Sora site but again didn't get any responses.† At the Stillwater Unit I walked out onto the trail, listening for bitterns and looking for migrants.† Again today, I didn't hear any bitterns.† I guess they were vocal for a few weeks, maybe when they were looking for mates or establishing territories.† Now they are nesting, I imagine, and silent.† I'll keep trying.
One of the things I wanted to do today was to check out the nests I had seen yesterday.† At the first Red-winged Blackbird nest site, the parents were still feeding the young ones.† In this picture, you can see four young blackbirds, the same as in the other nest.
Here is a picture that shows the female better, as she feeds them.
The robin nest was empty today, and I assumed that the two young ones had fledged.† I ran into the guy who had shown me the robin nest yesterday, and he told me he had seen the young ones take their first flights yesterday afternoon.† I also found out his name is Carlo.
At the other Red-winged Blackbird nest, which was actually the first one I saw, but the second one in terms of distance from the car, the parents were also still taking care of the nestlings.† Here is a picture of the male Red-winged Blackbird at the nest.
Here is another picture of him at the nest.
The nestlings are pretty big, and here is a picture that shows how big one of them is.
The female was still attending to the young, too, and here is a picture of her with a fecal sac that she is about to carry away from the nest.
I got a brief view of a Bullock's Oriole as it flew down the trail, so I had a Monday bird.† A couple of other birders on the trail showed me a Bullock's Oriole nest hanging right over the trail.† There wasn't any action around the oriole nest, but it looks freshly built, and I'll check it out on later visits.† Here is a picture of the Bullock's Oriole nest.
Here is a closer look at it, showing the intricate working of grasses.
It will be interesting to see if the orioles use it, or if the traffic on the trail discourages them.
I also saw a Turkey Vulture overhead, and that was a reasonable candidate for BAD bird today.† A couple of Brown Creepers flew in and fed on the trunks of trees near the trail.† That was another Monday bird.† They are difficult to get pictures of because they never stop moving, but here is my best effort at a picture of a Brown Creeper.
It sprinkled on and off all morning, and this afternoon we had more rain.† This sure has been a rainy winter and spring.† I got two birds for Monday, to bring me to 176 species.† I'll take Turkey Vulture for my BAD bird.† I think that tomorrow it is supposed to rain in the morning again, but the afternoon might be dry.† We shall see.
Tuesday, May 16, 2017
As expected, it was raining this morning.† This is supposed to be the end of the rain for a week or so, which would be very nice.† I didn't even go out birding this morning because of the rain.† I had lunch with my friend Chris, down in Bellevue, and after lunch the rain had let up, so we went to Phantom Lake, as usual.† There was a lot of bird sound, but we didn't see much at first.† I finally looked at one of the swallows swooping around, and it was a Barn Swallow, as I expected.† So, now I have Barn Swallow on my Tuesday list.
After that, things picked up a little.† We had an Osprey out over the lake and a Red-tailed Hawk overhead, neither of which I needed for Tuesday.† There was also a male Black-headed Grosbeak that flew in and then out again and perched where we could see him.† I didn't need that one either, but at least it was a bird.† Then I spotted a little bird that turned out to be a Western Wood-Pewee, a flycatcher. I saw one last week in the Ellensburg area, but this was the first one I have seen on this side of the mountains this year.† They are just now getting back from their migration and should be around all summer now.
On our way back to the car Chris spotted a distant bird in a dead tree, and with my binoculars I was able to tell that it was a Cedar Waxwing, another Tuesday bird.
So, I ended up getting three species there for my Tuesday list, and I decided not to bother going anywhere else looking for birds this afternoon, although the rain had stopped by then.† That makes 172 species for Tuesday.† That is my lowest day, but the highest day is only 178 species, so all 7 days are tightly clustered right now.† I'll take Western Wood-Pewee for my BAD bird today.
Wednesday, May 17, 2017
The rain is supposed to be over for a week or so, which will be a relief.† It was overcast this morning, but dry.† I headed over to the Snoqualmie River Valley and my first stop was at the Sora site.† I played the calls and I got a response this morning, so that one goes onto my Wednesday list.
I went on over to the Stillwater Unit in the hopes of hearing a bittern.† There were a couple of Hooded Mergansers out on one of the ponds, and although I didn't need that one for anything, I shot some pictures anyway.† Here is a male Hooded Merganser with his crest down.
Here's what he looks like with his crest raised.
Here is a picture of three Hooded Mergansers, one male and two females.
One of those females has her crest down and one has it partially up.† Here is a picture of a female Hooded Merganser with her crest raised.
A couple of swallows flew in and landed on branches nearby.† I could see that they were probably Northern Rough-winged Swallows, but they could have been Bank Swallows, which look similar.† I looked more closely and confirmed they were Northern Rough-winged Swallows, which I needed for Wednesday.† Here are pictures of them, one showing the front and one showing the back.
The young Red-winged Blackbirds were still in the closer nest to the parking lot, although today I never saw more than three of them.† A couple of days ago there were four.† Maybe one was sleeping today or just laying low.† Here is the male Red-winged Blackbird feeding a young one.
Here is a picture of the female feeding a young one.
Soon after that I saw a Brown Creeper, which completed that species for me.† Here is a picture.
At the second Red-winged Blackbird nest, I only saw two young ones today, and there had been four in that nest, too, a couple of days ago.† I suspect that the other two had fledged already, and I think the last two were close to taking their first flights.† Here is a picture of one of them, sitting up and showing how big it was.
Here's another picture in which you can see both young Red-winged Blackbirds.
One of those young birds was flapping its wings and I never saw a parent feeding them in the half hour, off and on, that I watched the nest.† I suspect that they stopped feeding them in order to encourage them to leave the nest.† I think that most birds continue to feed the young ones for a few days after they fledge, and the young ones soon learn to find food for themselves.
While I was watching the blackbird nest, I heard an American Bittern give its very distinctive call.† Bingo!† After hearing bitterns the first five times I went there this year and each time using some other species for my BAD bird that day, I hadn't heard one for the last three or four visits, and I was wondering if I would ever get it for a BAD bird.† Today was the day.
A little farther down the trail I saw a couple of male Bullock's Orioles, a good Wednesday bird.† They were high in a tree, deep in the leaves, but I played some calls and they came out to check me out.† I got a few pictures, and this was the best one of a male Bullock's Oriole.
There was a Black-headed Grosbeak, which I didn't need, singing loudly, and I finally tracked him down to the top of a tree.† My pictures of him against the bright sky are poor, but I played his calls and brought him down, too.† Here is the male Black-headed Grosbeak.
You can see that the colors of those last two species are similar - orange, white, and black.† When I see one flying, it is kind of hard to tell which species it is at first, until I can get a better look.† Once you get a male Black-headed Grosbeak singing, he usually keeps it up for a long time.† Here is that male Black-headed Grosbeak singing away.
Here is a less obstructed picture of him singing.
I saw a couple of Yellow-rumped Warblers, a couple of Red-breasted Sapsuckers, and a male Common Yellowthroat, but no pictures and I didn't need any of those for any lists.† I also got a distant look at a flycatcher, but I couldn't tell which species it was.† I didn't need Song Sparrow, either, but one posed so nicely that I took its picture.
I saw still another species that I didn't need, but I got pictures of a pair of Northern Flickers.† Here an interesting view of a female Northern Flicker.
Here is a picture of a male Northern Flicker.
Note the red "moustache" on the male.† Here is a front view of the male.
There was a Mallard with her young in the pond, and I got this picture of some of the ducklings.
Here is the mom Mallard with some of her ducklings.
Ducks protect their young (or, rather, the female ducks protect the young - the males aren't around), but they don't feed them.† The ducklings leave the nest right away and have to forage for themselves.† The female keeps track of them, though, and they come to her at any sign of danger.
I was almost back to my car when I noticed a Vaux's Swift overhead.† It was flying higher than the swallows, and it just looked different.† The first time I saw it I wasn't sure enough to count it, but then I got another look, and I was sure of the identification.† That was an excellent Wednesday bird, as I don't see them very often.
So, it was somewhat more birdy today than it has been recently there for me.† I added five species to my Wednesday list, which was already the highest day of the week.† That makes my Wednesday total 183 species.† I completed Brown Creeper, to give me 87 species completed.† I'll take American Bittern for my BAD bird today.
Thursday, May 18, 2017
I drove up to Yost Park in Edmonds on Thursday morning.† I was looking for some migrants, but it was very quiet.† I did hear some birds, I guess, but most of them were robins, and I couldn't identify the rest.† I walked the trails and played some bird calls, but never got any responses.† Eventually I saw a largish bird fly in to the top of a tree, and there were four Band-tailed Pigeons near the top of that tree.† That was a Thursday bird.
That was all I got, and my pictures were crap because of the distance and the fact I was looking up into a bright sky.† That brings Thursday to 178 species.† I took Band-tailed Pigeon for my BAD bird.† The best news was that I walked quite a bit and my Achilles tendon didn't hurt all that much.† It is very slowly getting less painful, and I have hopes that it might actually be healing.
Friday, May 19, 2017
It was a beautiful spring morning today, and I went over to Marymoor Park.† Almost right away I got this picture of an Osprey, which I didn't actually need for Friday.
I did need Spotted Sandpiper, though, and I got this picture of one of the two I saw.
I walked along the slough, along the edge of the off-leash dog park.† There were a lot of people out there today with their dogs, and I suspect that the great weather was part of the reason.† I saw a male Western Tanager, an excellent Friday bird, but it didn't stick around for a picture.† I heard Black-headed Grosbeaks singing all over the place, and I saw 3 or 4 males and a female, but again, no pictures.† It was a Friday bird, at least.† I walked quite a bit, and eventually got a nice view of a Warbling Vireo, another excellent Friday bird.
The Great Blue Herons were on their nests, and the young ones were making a racket, asking to be fed.† Here is a picture of one on its nest, with the young one in front.† You can't really make out the young one, but it is there.† Of course, I long ago completed Great Blue Heron.
A Bald Eagle flew through at one point, and a little later there was an immature Bald Eagle soaring around overhead.† Here is a picture of the immature Bald Eagle.
As I got back almost to the car, I saw a male Brown-headed Cowbird out on a branch, and I got this picture of him in the sun.
There was a pair of Common Mergansers on the slough, and although I didn't need them for any lists, here are some pictures.† First, here is the male Common Merganser.
Here is the female Common Merganser.
Here is a picture of the two of them together.
I had another longish walk today, and my heel did pretty well again.† I got 5 new Friday birds, to bring Friday to 180 species.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Western Tanager.
I'm planning on leaving on Sunday morning for a nine day trip to southern Washington and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in central Oregon, and I hope that will produce some birds that I wouldnít see locally.† First I need to get some birds locally tomorrow, though.
Saturday, May 20, 2017
It was a beautiful morning today, supposedly the first of at least ten days of good weather.† Too bad I'll miss most of it, but the places I'm going are supposed to have good weather, too.† Yesterday I mowed our whole lawn, a 2 1/2 hour job, but it will be very long by the time I get home in nine or ten days, with all the sunshine we are supposed to get.
I headed out to the Snoqualmie River Valley, to the Stillwater Unit of the Snoqualmie Valley Wildlife Area.† I stopped on the way at the Redmond Retention Ponds, since I was going right by there.† I didnít really expect anything, but there was a Spotted Sandpiper working its way along the near shore.† Here is the cute little Spotted Sandpiper, which I needed for Saturday.
I got close enough that it flew up and landed on a post.† I donít think I have ever seen a Spotted Sandpiper perch anywhere except on the ground.
In the winter, their breasts are clear white, and they develop the spots in the summer.† There was also a Savannah Sparrow there, and I got this picture.†† Although I completed Savannah Sparrow some time ago, I haven't used it as a BAD bird yet.
I continued on to the Stillwater Unit and walked out onto the trail.† There wasnít much going on, but I persisted.† I wanted to hear (or see) a bittern, but I didn't do so today.† I noticed today that the app that I use for bird calls says that the American Bittern call that I have heard is done in the breeding season.† That probably explains why they were so vocal a few weeks ago, but now they have gone quiet.† I guess they have all paired up now and are working on procreation.
I saw a distant bird on a snag and I figured it was just another blackbird, but you have to look at all of them because you never know.† It turned out to be a Cedar Waxwing, which I needed for Saturday.† There were three of them, in three different trees, as it turned out.† It was really distant, but my trusty new camera got me this shot anyway.† Cedar Waxwing.† Note the red waxy substance on the wing, which gives the species its name.
I always think of Cedar Waxwings as "sleek" birds.
I checked out the two Red-winged Blackbird nests.† In the first one, the young were still there, but the parents weren't coming in very often to feed them.† I only saw two chicks in the nest, but the others might have been sitting down.† I don't think they are big enough to have fledged yet.† At the second nest, where two had fledged and the other two were ready to fledge, the other day, the nest was empty.† I did see one of the young ones being fed by the female, though, near the nest.† Unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough to get a picture, and they both flew off and landed down in the long grass.
The Bullock's Oriole nest over the trail that I showed a picture of a few days ago was gone today.† I wonder what happened to it.† I got this picture of a male Common Yellowthroat, which I didn't need for Saturday, near the second blackbird nest, where I had seen him before several times.
I wasn't seeing any of the migrants, so I played the song of a warbler that everyone else has been reporting, but that I hadn't seen yet this year.† After a minute or two, I watched a bird fly in from a little distance away, and it turned out to be a male YELLOW WARBLER, the one I was trying for.† It didn't stick around long, but it checked me out and I got two quick pictures.† Here are both pictures of the male Yellow Warbler.
I saw a female, too.† The females donít have those red streaks on the breast, but otherwise look the same.
I headed back toward my car then, and didn't see anything until I got back to the location of the first Red-winged Blackbird nest.† I saw the female feed the young ones a couple of times, but I also saw a Pied-billed Grebe out on the pond that I hadn't really looked at closely on my way south earlier.† This time I noticed that the grebe had a couple of young chicks on her back.† I didn't need Pied-billed Grebe, but I like the pictures I got.† Here she is with a couple of chicks on her back.
I watched her, and after a while she kind of shrugged the chicks off, and it turned out there were actually four of them.† Here is a picture that shows them trying to climb back aboard.
Here is a picture that clearly shows all four young Pied-billed Grebes around their mom.
Here is a picture that only shows three of the young ones, but it gives a better idea of what they look like.
The mother grebe started diving for food, and when she would surface, the young ones would all scurry toward her.† It seemed like the first one there got the food.† Here are the four young ones scurrying toward mom, after mom had been down looking for food.
Finally, here is a closer crop of the four young Pied-billed Grebes.† Sorry for the fuzziness.† I was a long way away.
Soon after I retired, in the spring of 1999, I used to go down to Juanita Bay Park regularly and watch the Pied-billed Grebes in their floating nests.† The eggs would hatch and the parents would raise the chicks.† Usually there were 6 or 8 chicks to start with, but if they successfully raised one or two to adulthood, then they had done well.† They usually had two or even three broods a year, especially if they lost all the chicks early.† Today reminded me of those early days, when I was just starting to get interested in birding.† Birding has turned out to be the premier activity of my retirement, but I was just starting to scratch the surface back then, and the Pied-billed Grebes were a very important part of that early interest.† That made today fun and a bit emotional, to see a Pied-billed Grebe and her chicks.
Here is a picture of the Stillwater Unit today in the sunshine.† The grebes were out on that pond.† You can see what a beautiful day it was.† I was out there in only a short-sleeved shirt, which is a first for this year.
When I got back to the parking lot, I saw a male Wilson's Warbler.† I wasnít able to get a picture, and I didn't need that species for Saturday, but I hadn't yet used it for a BAD bird, and I was hoping to do so, because the number of Wilson's Warblers in this area goes down after May.† Most of them are migrating through here, and only a limited number stay to breed.
I got three more species for my Saturday list, to bring it to 179.† Yellow Warbler was a new year-bird, to bring my year total to 295. ††I'll take Wilson's Warbler for my BAD bird. †
Tomorrow I plan to leave for southern Washington and central Oregon for a nine or ten day trip.† The weather is supposed to be good, and I hope to see some new year-birds and add to my daily lists.† One of my goals on a trip is to get a BAD bird each day that I wouldn't be able to see here at home.† We'll see how I do.† I still have seen a new day-bird each day so far this year (the streak), and I hope to continue that streak as well.
Sunday, May 21, 2017
I was away at 9:17 this morning, which was 17 minutes later than my ďgoalĒ, but 13 minutes earlier than what I normally expect.† The weather was excellent, and the drive was uneventful.† My first stop was a fishing access on the Yakima River, just east of Cle Elum.† I tried for Red-eyed Vireo there, but didnít really expect it.† Itís still pretty early for them.† My main point in stopping there was to take a leak.† I accomplished my main goal and moved on to Red Bridge Road.
I was hoping to see American Dipper at the bridge over the Teanaway River, but there were a couple of people on the shore where I had seen the dipper a couple of weeks ago, and I didnít see one.† I did see a Spotted Sandpiper, though, which was one for my Sunday list.
I drove up Ballard Hill Road and stopped at the Pygmy Nuthatch nest site I had found a couple of weeks ago.† I got the nuthatch, which I needed for Sunday, and I also saw several Western Kingbirds in that area.† I didnít need Western Kingbird for any list, but here is a picture.
After that, I drove on to the Swauk Cemetery and saw a Red-breasted Nuthatch (for my Sunday list) there.† I also saw a Chipping Sparrow, which was also good for Sunday.
On Swauk Prairie Road I got this picture of a Western Meadowlark with some grubs or caterpillars in its mouth.† I assume it was taking them to some chicks.
That seems like a pretty big meal for a chick, but I donít know how big the chicks were, of course.† Maybe each chick gets one item.† Itís interesting that the meadowlark can collect three of them without losing the others.
I stopped at my Mountain Chickadee spot, but couldnít call one up today.† I moved on to Bettas Road, and I saw my first EASTERN KINGBIRD of the year there.† Here is a picture.
Getting a good picture of a black and white bird against a bright background is very difficult, and it is worse when the eye of the bird is in the black part.† This was the best I could do today.† Itís early for Eastern Kingbird, and I was happy to see one today.† I thought I might miss that one on this trip, because they are just now coming back from their winter sojourns down south.
I turned off on Hayward Road, as I came out of the valley, and I tried for Vesper Sparrow where I had been able to call one up with playback a couple of weeks ago.† Not today, though.† When I was there last time, I had talked to a couple who were driving the other way, and they said that Hayward Road came out on the road to Ellensburg, so today I continued on, into virgin territory for me.† I thought it would take me back to Highway 97, but instead the unpaved road went on over the hills to Highway 10.† Along the way I saw a Horned Lark singing on a fence post, and although I didnít need it for Sunday, it was a Kittitas county bird.†† I also got some pictures I really like because they show the ďhornsĒ so well.† Here is a Horned Lark.
I mentioned it was singing, and here is a picture of it doing just that.
One my way to I-90 I saw a Black-billed Magpie on a wire, and I got this shot of it.
That was another black and white bird with a bright sky behind it.† Not a very good picture, as a result, but I like magpies, so Iím showing it.
I headed east on I-90 and got off at Kittitas so I could drive the Old Vantage Road.† Along that road I got this picture of a Red-tailed Hawk.
I stopped at the Wild Horse Wind Farm, to look for a couple of sage species that I had seen there a couple of weeks ago.† I was successful, and here are two pictures of a Sagebrush Sparrow.
I didnít get any pictures of the Brewerís Sparrow that I called in with playback.† They are shy and approach slowly and hide in the bushes.† I needed to move on, so I gave up on pictures of Brewerís Sparrow and settled for some good binocular views.† I also saw at least 3 Sage Thrashers in that area, but I didnít need that one for any lists, and I didnít try for pictures.
I drove on down the Old Vantage Highway to the Columbia River.† I tried for Rock Wren on Recreation Road, but couldnít call one in.† By then it was getting on for time to be moving on.† Today was a travel day, and I needed to make some miles.† Up until then I had been trying for Sunday birds and pictures, but as well as driving to Malheur NWR to meet my buddy Fred, I was planning on doing some Washington county birding, attempting to get three counties up to 50 species each.
My first county was Benton county, which is where Iím staying tonight and tomorrow night.† I stopped at Horn Rapids County Park to try for some Benton county birds.† I had 46 species in the county already, so I only needed to get 4 more to get to 50.† As I drove in to the park, I saw a pair of California Quail, and that was one for my Benton county list.† Here is a picture of a male California Quail, Benton county style.
Here is his partner, a female California Quail.
I drove through more of the park and I saw a Mourning Dove on a wire, another Benton county first for me.† At the top of a tree was a Brown-headed Cowbird, another Benton county bird for my list.† Next was a Western Kingbird, still another for Benton county.† That one put me at 50, but of course, more is better, so I kept on.
I saw about a dozen American White Pelicans in the distance, circling around in the sky.† I didnít need it for any lists, but they are striking birds.† They were really distant, but here is a picture of three of them in the sky.
Iíd crop that picture more, but they were so far away that it would be too blurry if I did that.† You could barely see them with the naked eye, and only when the sun shone on them at that.
I didnít see anything else there at Horn Rapids County Park.† I could have gotten out and walked on the trails, but it was 84 degrees, and I decided not to do so.† Instead I boogied on into Kennewick, where Iím staying for two nights.† I got off the freeway at Columbia Park Trail and drove to the Yakima River delta area.† There is an unpaved road that goes along the water, and I drove it.† It was packed with cars and people, not a surprise I guess, on a beautiful spring Sunday.† Some were fishing and some had accessed the water with all kinds of floatation devices.† I soon turned around and gave it up, but not before I saw a Red-winged Blackbird for my Benton county list.
Back on Columbia Park Trail I stopped at the pond where there were tons of feral domestic geese, Canada Geese, pigeons, Mallards, and gulls, all begging for food from the hordes of people with small children who come there to feed bread to the poor birds, who donít know any better.† Itís great fun for the kids, I get that, but the bread is not good at all for the poor birds.† Anyway, there were some California Gulls among the crowd, and that was a Benton county bird for me.
That was it for today for me.† I found my way to my motel and got settled in for a two night stay.† Tomorrow I plan to try to bring up my totals for Franklin and Walla Walla counties to 50 each.† I have 45 in Walla Walla county, so that will be pretty easy, but I only have 41 in Franklin, and that is going to be a challenge.
Today I added one species to my Kittitas county list, to bring it to 93.† I added 6 species to Benton county, to bring it to 52.† I got 7 new species for Sunday, and now Iím at 182 species on Sunday.† Eastern Kingbird brings my year total to 296.† Iíll take Brewerís Sparrow for my BAD bird today.† Is that enough lists for you?
It was a nice birding and traveling day today.† Tomorrow I plan to hit some Franklin county and Walla Walla county birding sites, and as I mentioned, the challenge is going to be Franklin county.
Monday, May 22, 2017
It was a beautiful day here today, and I got out of here about 9:20.† My first stop was across the Columbia River in Franklin county, at Chiawana Park.† On my way there I saw a Killdeer fly across the road, and that was a Franklin county bird.† I only had 41 species in Franklin county when the day started, and I wanted to get it up to 50.† Because of what I had already seen, I thought it might be a real challenge, so getting Killdeer right off the bat was great.
In the park I soon saw my first of many Western Kingbirds for the day.† That was both a Franklin county bird and a bird for my Monday list.† In the park I saw a House Sparrow near the boat launch, and that was one for Franklin.† I got this picture of some Canada Geese and their goslings.† Not one for any lists, but the goslings were cute, I thought.
There was also a Western Grebe offshore, again not one for any lists.
I walked around the west end of the park, looking for birds.† It was a lovely morning, but not very birdy.† I finally did see a female Western Tanager, which was good for Franklin county and Monday both.† There were also several Black-headed Grosbeaks around, mostly males and one female.† That one was also good for both Franklin and Monday.† I was getting some birds.† On my way out of the park I got this picture of a Mourning Dove, not needed for any list.
That was it for Chiawana Park today.† I found my way to the freeway and headed next to the Big Flat Habitat Management Unit, located on the Snake River, on the Franklin county side.
On my way there it was all farming country, which isnít very good for birds.† As I approached the Big Flat HMU, though, I could see that it had grass, shrubs and trees, so I was hopeful.† There was an Osprey nest on a pole as I entered the area, and I needed Osprey for Franklin county.† Here is a picture of the nest, with the two Ospreys.
Hereís a close-up of one of the Ospreys.
Arenít those feathers cool?
I spotted a Bullockís Oriole, and that was good for Franklin county.† I also saw an Eastern Kingbird, which was good for both Franklin county and Monday.† I was very pleased to get my second Eastern Kingbird of the trip, because they are just now returning from migration.† There will be more around in a week or two.
I had read that there were Bank Swallows in the area, and that is a swallow species that is hard enough to get that I didnít mind seeing them.† As I was watching two or three swallows swooping around, trying to get a definitive identification, a male Northern Harrier came through my binocular view, so I followed him.† That was a great Franklin county bird.†
I continued to try to identify the swallows.† Bank Swallows look a lot like Northern Rough-winged Swallows, and when they are flying it is hard to tell the difference.† I found the nesting colony, in a large sand bank across a bay, but both species make similar nests, and in fact, sometimes they are intermixed in the same colony.† The nest holes were a long distance away, at least 150 yards, and there was no way to approach them.† Here is a picture of part of the colony, which was composed of holes in the sandy bank.
Here is an extreme crop of that picture, to show a single swallow.† It is blurry because of the distance, but you can see the white belly and the dark band across the upper breast, which is characteristic of Bank Swallow.† A Northern Rough-winged Swallow would have a light brown coloration all down its front, not the white belly and dark breast band.† Here is the super-distant picture that confirms the identification of Bank Swallow.
Is this fun, or what?† Bank Swallow was a great Franklin county bird and a great Monday bird, too.
I had my 50 species for Franklin county (51 actually, but I always like to get an insurance species, in case I find a problem with my counting later), so I headed on for Walla Walla county.† On the way back to U.S Highway 12, I spotted a Western Meadowlark on a wire, to bring Franklin to 52 species.
It was only just after noon as I crossed the Snake River into Walla Walla county and I stopped first at Hood Park.† I saw a female Bullockís Oriole and then later a male.† That was a Walla Walla county bird.† I had had 45 species in Walla Walla county going in, and I figured that seeing five more species today would be easy.
I was about ready to eat my humble lunch which I had made this morning in my humble motel room (ham and cheese wraps, veggies, and chips), but it was hot out there, maybe lower 80ís, so I moved on.† As I approached the headquarters of the McNary National Wildlife Area I slowed down crossing the causeway across the slough.† I picked up Yellow-headed Blackbird there, another Walla Walla county bird. †I had seen that species down in Texas on a Monday, so it wasnít a Monday bird.† Later I got this picture of a male Yellow-headed Blackbird at that same place.
The bird called and I got this picture of him calling.† Note the white on the wing.† When the bird flies, you see a flashing white patch on the wings.
There was also a pair of Redheads (a duck species) out on the water, which was a good one for Walla Walla county.† I had only seen Redhead once this year, but wouldnít you know, it was on a Monday, so it didnít add to my Monday list.† Here is a distant picture of a male Redhead.
I stopped at the headquarters and took a leak in their rest room, and I started on my lunch, which I ate while I drove.† I soon saw a lot of Western Kingbirds, which was another Walla Walla county bird.† I went east on Humorist Road and when it got back to the slough, I saw a single American White Pelican, which put me at 50 species for Walla Walla county.† Later I saw a number of them in the air, a little south of there.
I moved on down the dead end part of Humorist Road, and I saw a duck with a bunch of ducklings closely following her.† They were crossing a bay of the slough, and it was interesting how close the ducklings stayed to the mom.† Here is a picture of them.
They were chugging along, with the young ones staying really close to mom.† Another bird flew in and landed near them, and it was a male Cinnamon Teal, number 51 species for Walla Walla county.† Here is a picture of the male Cinnamon Teal and the mom duck and her ducklings.
The male didnít really seem to be paying any attention to the other ducks, and I thought that male ducks didnít stick around after they had done their part in fertilizing the eggs, so maybe it was only a coincidence.† When I got back to my room and looked at my pictures, though, I could see that the mom duck was indeed a female Cinnamon Teal, so maybe that was the dad, flying in to provide protection to the family as it crossed the bay.† The mom and ducklings continued across the bay to the opposite shore, and the male just sort of hung out in the middle.† Here is a picture of the male Cinnamon Teal, showing his amazing coloration.
You canít see it there, but he has a patch on each wing that is a very pretty shade of light blue.
I moved on south and tried to find a place that I had read about, but it involved going on a very poor unpaved road, and I didnít like the looks of it.† It was very dusty at the south end (if I was even in the right place, which I wasnít sure of), and it was just very small on the north end.† Since I had my Walla Walla county birds I needed, and since I would have had to use my scope to view any birds on the ponds the road passed by, I passed on it, and headed back toward my lonely room.† It was really early, but I had been having trouble with changing my email address to gmail and sending out my reports that way, so I wanted to get back early anyway.
On the way back I drove by the McNary NWR again, and I got this picture of a male Ruddy Duck, which I didnít actually need for any lists.
Hereís another picture of him.† It is closer, so it shows more detail, but you canít see his eye, which I donít like.
I like the reflections in both pictures.
That was it for today.† I got back to my room by about 3:30, which gave me time to do some computer stuff.† Iíve had some problems in switching my email address to gmail.† My Sunday Report was returned last night, with a message that it had been ďblockedĒ.† I didnít find that out until this morning, though, at which time I sent it again.† It seems like it went through that second time.† Weíll see if tonightís report gets through.† I would appreciate any feedback about whether the reports are getting to you and how they look.† If gmail doesnít work, then Iíll find another solution.
So, for today, I got 11 species in Franklin county (which really surprised me) to bring it to 52 species.† I got 6 in Walla Walla county, which I thought would be easy and it was, to bring me to 51 species.† I added 5 more to Monday, to make my Monday total 181.† For my BAD bird today, Iíll take Eastern Kingbird.
Tomorrow I plan to drive to Burns, Oregon, which is 30 miles from Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.† Malheur NWR is the place that the ďOccupiersĒ took over last year, and held for several months, in a protest against the federal government owning any real estate.† The Occupiers trashed the headquarters of the NWR and ruined the septic system, and Iím looking forward to seeing it now.† The headquarters and museum were closed for about a year while they did repairs, but it reopened quite recently.† Iím meeting my friend Fred and his faithful Golden Retriever, Tugboat, there, and weíll have five nights there to search for birds.† Itís about a five hour drive for me tomorrow, and my challenge will be to get a new Tuesday bird and keep the DOTW birding streak alive.† It wonít be easy, but it should be fun.† My best shot is Western Kingbird, which I saw a lot of today.
Tuesday, May 23, 2017
Today was a travel day. I drove for about five hours and now I'm in Burns, Oregon, which is about 30 miles north of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge (NWR). I met my buddy Fred here, and we plan to bird the heck out of the area over the next four full days (five nights here).
For today, my main goal was to get a Tuesday bird, and I had a couple of likely candidates, along with a lot of unlikely ones. I never saw a Western Kingbird that I could confirm, but I did see Black-billed Magpies three times, so Tuesday was covered. Actually, even before I saw a magpie, I saw a Chukar sitting on a post right next to the road. I turned around to try for pictures, but I was greedy and got too close and it hopped down off the post and moseyed out into the brush. I should have tried for a more distant picture first. It was still a great Tuesday bird.
I stopped at a couple of campground that are about 15 miles north of our motel, but the only thing I could come up with there was Chipping Sparrow for my Tuesday list. I think I heard a Cassin's Finch singing but they sound so much like Purple Finch to me that I didn't count it. I tried for five or ten minutes to see it or call it down lower, but not successfully.
So, I added three species to my Tuesday list, to bring it to 175 species. For my BAD bird, I'll take Chipping Sparrow, having already used Chukar and wanting to save Black-billed Magpie for later.
No pictures today, sorry. I was making miles, not worrying about pictures. We are settled into our humble motel for the next five nights, and the Wi-Fi isn't working for us. The owner is working on it, but nothing is going to happen until tomorrow, if then. I'm connecting to the internet through my cell phone, my fallback solution when this happens. It uses my data allowance, but I have plenty of data, and the new month starts in three days for me, so I should be fine. My buddy Fred is out of luck, though. Maybe it will magically start working.
Stay tuned for a full report, hopefully with pictures, tomorrow.
Wednesday, May 24, 2017
Today was a full day of birding for this old rambler.† We were out there from 9:30 AM until 5:30 PM, and thatís a pretty full day for me these days.† Iím not even going to try to describe everywhere we went and all the birds we saw.† Suffice it to say that it was quite birdy today, and we were constantly looking at birds and I was taking pictures.† Here is a summary of our day, constructed around my photos.† It will probably miss some of my Wednesday birds, and it certainly wonít mention all of the 57 species we saw today.
First we attempted to go to the fairgrounds, to get a look at the sewage treatment plant ponds.† The road leading there was closed for construction, but we found a detour that got us there eventually.† It turned out we couldnít see the ponds because the rickety old platform we used to use to view from had fallen down.† To make it worse, the mosquitoes were thicker than I have ever seen anywhere before, so we didnít really want to be out there anyway.
We drove on down to Hotchkiss Road and found some birds on a pond there.† Here is a picture of a female WILSONíS PHALAROPE, my first of the year.
Phalaropes are considered shorebirds, but they are usually seen swimming out on the water.† Here is a male Wilsonís Phalarope.
Here is a picture of an American Avocet.
There was a Willet at that pond, too, and also a couple of Cinnamon Teal.† There were Yellow-headed Blackbirds everywhere today, although I can only remember seeing males.† Maybe the females were sitting on nests at this time.† Along Hotchkiss Road we saw a Wilsonís Snipe sitting on a post, and I got this picture.
On the road to Malheur (We are staying in Burns, which is 30 miles north of the north edge of Malheur NWR.) we spotted our first of three pairs of Sandhill Cranes we saw today.† This pair had either two or three chicks with them.† The chicks mostly stayed in the long grass, so getting pictures of them was tough.† Here is the pair of Sandhill Cranes calling.
Here is a picture of one of the chicks in the long grass.
Hereís a picture of one of the adults and a chick, to show a size comparison.† The chicks have a lot of growing to do.
Here is a picture of an adult and two chicks.
There was a Long-billed Curlew near the cranes, too.†
We picked up some ducks on the pond at the power substation and moved on over Wrightís Point.† We pulled off to look for a hawk nest I had read about, and saw a couple of Sage Thrashers.† Here is one of the Sage Thrashers.
We found the Swainsonís Hawk nest that I had read about, eventually, but it was too far away for decent pictures.† That was an excellent bird to get, though.
There was water at the Narrows, which was dry two years ago when we were here last.† There werenít any interesting birds there, though.
We moved on the headquarters of the NWR Ė the buildings that the Occupiers had occupied and held for a couple of months last year.† It took them about a year to fix up all the stuff that the Occupiers had damaged, but now it is all open again.
There were quite a few birds around the HQ area, but maybe not as many as some years.† We added a good number to our list there.† Here is a picture of a Western Wood-Pewee.
We saw Western Tanagers there and this female Lazuli Bunting.
There were Yellow-headed Blackbirds and Brown-headed Cowbirds at the feeders.† There was a Common Raven nest in an evergreen tree, and the ravens were flying in an out, presumably feeding young ones.† When we arrived at the HQ area, we saw a couple of Forsterís Terns and a single BLACK TERN, my first of the year.† We also picked up both Yellow Warbler and Wilsonís Warbler around the headquarters.† I ate half my lunch there and we moved on.
We drove through the Field Station to the Central Patrol Road and went south.† The CPR is an unpaved road that runs for many miles right through the heart of the reserve.† There was more water everywhere than in other years, although not as much as the year that the road had flooded and was closed when we were here.
We saw ducks along the way, and I added Canvasback to my Wednesday list.† At one place there were some ducks and the light was great, so I took some duck pictures.† Here is a female Northern Shoveler.
Here is a male Northern Shoveler.
Here is a pair of Northern Pintails, just about the only ones of that species we saw today.
We saw Redheads several times today, and I got pictures at this stop.† Here is a male Redhead, an excellent Wednesday bird for me.
Here is the drab looking female Redhead.
Here is a picture that shows the pair of pintails and the pair of Redheads together.
We got our closest look at a couple of Sandhill Cranes soon after that.† Here is another picture of a Sandhill Crane.
I noticed when I processed that picture that the bird had mud or something on its bill.† It must have been rooting around in the mud.† Here is a close-up of its head, showing the mud (or something) on its bill.
When we got to the Buena Vista Ponds, we drove across and up to the overlook.† Here is a picture of Fred at the overlook, high above the Buena Vista Ponds.
From there we drove back to the Central Patrol Road and down to the road to Diamond.† On our way to Diamond, I wanted to look for Bank Swallows where we had seen them nesting in previous years, but they werenít there this year.† There were some swallows flying around, though, and I accidentally picked up CLIFF SWALLOW for my year list there. Actually, I guess I had seen them earlier, but they were there, too.† I had seen so many Tree Swallows that I eventually gave in and looked at some, so that one went onto my Wednesday list, too.
We drove in to the tiny community called Diamond (population 5 the sign said), and then backtracked.† We were looking for Savannah Sparrow, but never saw one well enough to identify it.† We stopped at the Round Barn, and probably saw a Lark Sparrow on that road, but didnít see it well enough to count it.
By that time it was getting late and we headed for home.† We debated about which way to go, and we ended up going back past headquarters, rather than around the back way through New Princeton.† Iím glad we did because we saw a large bird fly up onto a power pole, and it turned out to be my first PRAIRIE FALCON of the year.† I even got a picture.
On our way back up the highway to Burns I got this picture of two of the six Pronghorn Antelope that were pretty close to the road.
We still werenít done, though, because as we got really close to home we saw 5 or 6 FRANKLINíS GULLS, another first for me for the year, and one I had particularly wanted to see here this year.
As I said earlier, we got back here to the motel at about 5:30.† I ended up adding 17 species to my Wednesday list, to bring it to a round 200.† Five of those were new for the year for me, and now I have 301 for the year.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Prairie Falcon.
Whew!† Thatís it.† A long day, a long report with lots of pictures, and Iím ready to send it out and get to bed.† By the way, the wi-fi here at the motel was fixed during the day, which is a relief.† Now weíll see if gmail can handle a report this long thatís going to 29 recipients.† If not, then Iíll break it into two groups or two parts and get it off tomorrow morning.† What a life!
Thursday, May 25, 2017
This morning we got out of here at about the same time as yesterday, which was about 9:30.† As we drove out of town I added Black-billed Magpie to my Thursday list, and then we saw a raptor sitting on a pole.† It turned out to be a Swainsonís Hawk, an excellent one for my Thursday list.† Here is a picture of the Swainsonís Hawk.
That was the beginning of an excellent raptor day for us.
Our first birding stop was Idlewild campground, just to the north of Burns.† It seemed very quiet there.† When we finally did hear a bird, it turned out to be a robin.† We did pick up Chipping Sparrow at that first stop, which was one for my Thursday list as well as one for our Malheur list.† Here is a picture I like of a Chipping Sparrow.† It is partially obscured, but I like it anyway for some reason.
Moving on, Fred spotted a bird in a bush and we got a good look at a Gray Flycatcher.† Flycatchers are very difficult to identify, but this particular species is the only one of its family that bobs its tail up and down when it lands, as opposed to back and forth, and I saw it do that.† We got out and tried to see it again, but never could.
We moved on to still another part of the campground, hoping for better luck.† At first it was just as quiet as the rest of the campground, but just as we had decided to give it up and move on, it got interesting.† First we saw another Chipping Sparrow, and I got a picture of it on the road.
This picture isnít obscured, but I still like the first one better.
We got a quick view of a White-breasted Nuthatch, too, another one for our Malheur list.† Then we saw a couple of little birds and chased them until we could see they were Mountain Chickadees, another good one for our Malheur list and also my Thursday list.† I got this picture of one of the Mountain Chickadees from an odd angle.
There was another little bird in the area, too, and it turned out to be a House Wren.† I didnít need it for Thursday, but it was a good Malheur bird for us.† I got some pictures.† Here is the House Wren singing back to me, as I played its song on my phone.
Here is a picture of it singing taken from behind it, a different perspective.
Finally, here is a close-up of the House Wren posing for me.
While I was taking pictures of the House Wren, Fred spotted a bird near the ground in the bushes, and it turned out to be my first WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER of the year.† It flew to a nearby tree and I tried for pictures, but the pictures were either blurry or the bird had its head turned away from me.† Here is a picture of the back of a White-headed Woodpecker.
Note the two holes in the bark of the tree that it had just drilled, presumably looking for bugs under the bark.
So, on that note we left the mountains and headed down to what we call ďRaptor AlleyĒ, a road where we usually see a lot of raptors.
We saw some Red-tailed Hawks and some Turkey Vultures and then there was a very large bird on a pole.† It turned out to be the first of 5 or 6 GOLDEN EAGLES we saw today.† It stayed on the pole when we stopped and I got out of the car, and I took some pictures.† Unfortunately, the pictures were taken looking up into a bright sky, so they arenít really very good.† I donít see Golden Eagles very often, though, so Iím happy to have any pictures at all.† I think it was an immature bird.† Golden Eagles take 4 years to reach full maturity, and along the way they have various plumages.† Here is a heavily processed picture of what I think is an immature Golden Eagle.
Here is one more.
Check out those talons and that massive bill.† As I mentioned, we ended up seeing several more Golden Eagles, but I wasnít able to get any more pictures that are worth showing.
We saw an American Kestrel along that stretch, too, our first one this week.† Then there was another raptor on a pole, and it turned out to be a Prairie Falcon.† I got out of the car to try for pictures, but it flew just a few seconds too soon.† I did get one picture of it as it soared around overhead, and it is at least recognizable in this picture Ė Prairie Falcon.
To continue the raptor theme, we saw a Rough-legged Hawk sitting in a field.† I think it is the first time we have seen that species here.† Here is a picture of the Rough-legged Hawk.
Actually, here is another one, because I canít decide which one is better.
Rough-legged Hawk is a winter bird here, and this is very late for one.† I would guess that it is migrating through from somewhere south.
We saw a number of Red-tailed Hawks about then.† We were on the road from New Princeton to the Malheur NWR headquarters by then.
At HQ we had a roosting Great Horned Owl pointed out to us.† I knew there was a nest somewhere around the headquarters, but didnít know where.† Here is a picture of the Great Horned Owl, snoozing away the day.
There were Yellow-headed Blackbirds at the feeders, and I needed that one for Thursday.† Here is a picture of a male Yellow-headed Blackbird at one of the feeders.
Here are a couple of pictures of a male Western Tanager, another good Thursday bird for me.
We saw several Yellow Warblers around the HQ area, and here is a picture of a male Yellow Warbler singing away.
Here is another male Yellow Warbler we saw a little later.
We saw a couple of Warbling Vireos, too, which was another good Thursday bird for me and one for our Malheur list.† They were too active for me to get pictures, though.
Here is a picture of a female Brown-headed Cowbird.
Here are some male Brown-headed Cowbirds.
Cowbirds donít make nests.† Like cuckoos, the female cowbird lays her eggs in other birdsí nests, one per nest.† When the host species hatches the eggs, the cowbird chick pushes the other chicks out of the nest and the host parents feed the cowbird chick until it matures and flies away.† It seems strange that the parents donít seem to notice the difference, even when the cowbird is twice as big as the host parents and looks nothing like them.† Nature has strange ways.† Cuckoos do the same thing.
There was a male American Kestrel at the top of a tree, and I got these two pictures looking up at him through the branches.
We were heading toward our car when Fred spotted a Cedar Waxwing at the top of a tree.† It flew down into the tree, but I got this picture of it, a good bird for both our Malheur list and my Thursday list.
Back on our way to the car, I was looking up into the trees near where the Great Horned Owl was roosting, searching for the nest, which I figured had to be close by, and I suddenly saw this right above me.
It was the other adult Great Horned Owl.† We never did find the nest, but both parents were snoozing away the day, waiting for dark so they could go look for food for their young.† I understand that there is at least one owlet in the nest, which we never found.† Here is another picture of that second owl, taken from up on the hill a bit.
We headed for home then, with a couple of little detours and stops along the way.† We didnít see anything else interesting, though, until we got to the pond on Hotchkiss Lane where we had seen some birds yesterday.† I was able to add Wilsonís Phalarope, American Avocet, and Cinnamon Teal to my Thursday list there, which was nice.† We stopped at Safeway and picked up dinner and came on back to our motel.† We each went off to our rooms and after I put my stuff inside, I went back outside on the off-chance I could see a Franklinís Gull.† We had seen two or three of them fly over yesterday, so I thought I might as well spend a few minutes outside looking.† As it turned out, one flew over within the first minute, which was amazing, because I really hadnít expected to see one.† That was my final Thursday bird for the day.
Our day was shorter today, from about 9:30 until about 4:30, and that included the stop at the store and the gas station as well.† Still, I ended up adding 20 species to my Thursday list, which was outstanding.† That brings Thursday up to 198 species.† Two birds were new for the year for me (White-headed Woodpecker and Golden Eagle), and that makes 303 species so far this year.† I completed two species, too, Black-billed Magpie and Cinnamon Teal, to make 89 species that I have now seen on all seven days of the week this year.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Golden Eagle.† Phew!† Iím ready for bed, as soon as I can send this out.
Friday, May 26, 2017
This morning while eating breakfast I heard a racket outside Ė it was a bird screeching repeatedly. †I went out and it was a shorebird flying around screeching some kind of alarm call.† I thought it looked like a Whimbrel, but later decided it was a Long-billed Curlew.† Curlews breed in the fields around here and we have seen them several times this year.† I wanted a picture of it in the air, but by the time I was ready, it had moved on.† I then realized that it had been screeching at a Swainsonís Hawk that was sitting on a pole.† Here is a picture of the Swainsonís Hawk, probably the same bird we had seen yesterday across the street.
It flew down and perched on a wire, and I got this shot that shows a different perspective on the Swainsonís Hawk.
That was an excellent Friday bird and an excellent start to my day.
We got on our way by about 9:15 (real birders would have been out there for hours by then, of course) and stopped at Subway and I got a tuna sandwich.† Fred only eats one meal a day, at dinner, so Iím on my own for breakfast and lunch.† We drove to the ponds on Hotchkiss Lane and saw some birds.† I added Wood Duck, Redhead, and Canvasback to my Friday list, and Wood Duck was new for our Malheur list as well.† I also added White-faced Ibis, American Avocet, Black-necked Stilt, and Wilsonís Phalarope at those ponds and along the road.† Here is a picture of a couple of Black-necked Stilts.
That completed both American Avocet and Black-necked Stilt for me Ė Iíve seen both of those species on all seven days of the week now.
Hereís a picture of a female Wilsonís Phalarope.
Hereís a Canada Goose and some goslings.
We backtracked to highway 20 and went across Greenhouse Lane to highway 205, to go south to the NWR.† Along that stretch I completed Yellow-headed Blackbird.
We headed south then and stopped a couple of places briefly, but mainly were just traveling to the south end of Malheur NWR, which is about 60 miles from Burns, which is where we are staying.† At one brief stop along the way I got this picture of a male Canvasback.
We stopped briefly in the little community of Frenchglen and then moved on to P Ranch, which was our first real birding destination, other than the ponds on Hotchkiss Lane.† We took Tugboat, Fredís Golden Retriever, with us and walked out on the trail along the Blitzen River.† Here is a picture of Fred and Tug walking along the river trail.
We were especially looking for a particular species that we have seen there before, and we saw it fairly soon.† Here is a picture of my first BOBOLINK of the year, a male.
You can see it was singing away.† Itís really difficult to get a decent picture of a male Bobolink because of the sharp contrast of the black and white.† As a result, the pictures are often just profiles, with maybe the white back and wing patch showing, along with the golden yellow on the back of the head.† Later we saw another male Bobolink (Iíve never seen a female Bobolink, which looks completely different), and I got a picture that at least shows the eye of the bird.
The yellow on the back of the head is blown out in that picture, though.† Here is one that shows the color pattern of the back and wings.
The back of the head looks white, though, due to overexposure.† It is just a very difficult bird to get a good picture of that shows all the features.† Anyway, it was a great bird to see Ė one we always especially want to see and arenít always successful at doing.
Along the river walk we saw a flycatcher and I got this picture, which is pretty blurry.† My camera focused on the bushes in the background.† After looking in the field guide, we decided to call it a WILLOW FLYCATCHER, my first of the year.
After that walk we went to Page Springs campground to look for a couple of rail species that we have seen or heard there before.† We were successful today and heard Sora a couple of times and saw a Virginia Rail out in the open with three chicks.† Iím not pleased with my pictures of the Virginia Rail, but at least you can see one of the chicks, which are little black fuzz-balls.
Hereís a picture of one of the chicks on its own.
We picked up another species that we always see there, YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT, my third new year-bird of the day.† We also saw tons of Yellow Warblers all day, which was another Friday bird for me.† I finally gave it up and added Cliff Swallow to my Friday list, too.† They were everywhere and I couldnít help but see them well enough to identify them.
Next we backtracked to P Ranch and headed up the south section of the Center Patrol Road, an unpaved road that runs up the middle of the refuge.† We were looking for Eastern Kingbird, but never found one.† Along that stretch I completed Forsterís Tern, though, and I even got this picture of one hovering in the air, preparing to dive for a fish.
Later I got a mediocre picture of a Black Tern, another excellent Friday bird, in flight that at least shows its color pattern, which is black and gray.
I couldnít resist this Western Meadowlark that was posing for me right next to the car.† I liked the blue of the sky and the yellow of the bird.
We added birds to our Malheur list along there and at Benson Pond, including American White Pelican and Trumpeter Swan.† We drove past the Buena Vista Ponds and added Ring-necked Duck, too.† I guess I got Marsh Wren for my Friday list and for our Malheur list somewhere along there, too.
By that time it was past 3:30 PM, and we were still 45 minutes south of home, so we boogied on up highway 205.† Along the way we had a Prairie Falcon fly across the road in front of us, and I got a good naked eye look at it.† I might not have recognized it except we had seen one in flight yesterday and I even got a picture of one overhead yesterday, so I felt confident about identifying this one as a Prairie Falcon.† Fred saw it too, of course, and he concurred.† That was a really great Friday bird.
At a pond we always check when we drive that road we picked up Horned Grebe for our Malheur list.† I got some pictures, and Iím not sure which one I like better of these next two pictures.
I like the lighting of the second one, but the yellow plumes behind the eye look white because they are blown out.† The plumes are better in the first one, but the bird is turned away from the camera a little, so the length appears shortened.† Here is a picture of the Horned Grebe with a male Ruddy Duck.† They are a colorful pair.
That was it for our birding, except that while we were in the drive-through line at the Juniper Smokehouse, waiting for them to prepare our dinner, I saw some Franklinís Gulls fly overhead, so one more went onto my Friday list.
It was another very productive day for us.† We added 15 more to our Malheur list, to bring it to 87 now.† I added 21 to my Friday list, to give me 201 species on Fridays this year.† I completed 4 species, to make it 93 species competed now.† Three of the ones I saw today were new for the year for me, to put my year list at 306 now.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Bobolink.
Thatís it.† It seemed like another long day, even though we were only out there for about 8 hours.† It takes me a good three hours to choose and process my pictures and write my report, after a day like today, so thatís part of what makes it seem long.† We have one more day here, and weíll see what that produces.
Saturday, May 27, 2017
Like yesterday, the local Swainsonís Hawk was on the pole outside my window this morning, so that was a good start on Saturday birds.† We got out of here about 9:15, gassed up the car, and headed south toward Malheur on highway 205.† I picked up Canvasback and Wilsonís Phalarope on the way, for my Saturday list.† At the pond by the power substation we saw a single Greater White-fronted Goose across the pond. †That was a good one for my Saturday list, as well as a good one for our Malheur trip list.† They should all be gone by now, but this one must be a late migrant, just passing through alone.
When we were south of Wrightís Point, I spotted a BURROWING OWL, my first of the year, on a post and we turned around and went back for pictures and for Fred to see it.† Here it is on its post, where it just sat and looked at us from about 30 feet away.
We went east on Ruh-red Road for 2 or 3 mostly looking for water, since there were reports of a lot of water birds on that road.† We never found any water, so it must have been a lot farther east than we went.† I got this picture of a Willet on a post.
It always seems strange to me to see a shorebird out in the dry country, far away from any water.† They winter on the California coast, among other places, and Iím used to seeing Willets on the beach in much drabber plumage than this one.† They breed inland, though, in places like this.
There were several Loggerhead Shrikes along Ruh-red Road, and I got this picture of one.
I had to process the heck out of that picture because out of the camera it was mostly a black silhouette against the bright sky.† Fred spotted a Horned Lark as we drove by, too, and we went back for this picture.
None of those except the Burrowing Owl were ones I needed for Saturday, but we were adding to our Malheur trip list.† At one stop we saw a large raptor in the distance.† We watched it for a while and noted its appearance.† After consulting the field guide, we declared it to be a FERRUGINOUS HAWK, a really excellent year-bird for me.† That species has been reported recently in that area, and that helped us focus in on an identification.
Farther south on 205 I spotted a couple more Burrowing Owls and we went back.† When we got back there was only one there, and I got this quick picture.
Our next real stop was the headquarters of the NWR.† We soon spotted one of the Great Horned Owls in a tree, for my Saturday list.† Headquarters had fewer birds for us this year, compared to past years.† There were some Lazuli Buntings there at the feeders today, and I got this picture of a male Lazuli Bunting, one for my Saturday list.
As usual, there were some male Yellow-headed Blackbirds around, and I got this picture of one.
I picked up Western Tanager and Bullockís Oriole there at headquarters before we moved on.† We drove south to Benson Pond, but all I got there was a Redhead for my Saturday list.† Back at the road to Krumbo Reservoir we saw a Western Wood-Pewee for my Saturday list.† We went up to the first lake at Krumbo and there were a lot of ducks out there.† We picked up a couple of species for our Malheur list, but nothing for me for my Saturday list.
We backtracked to the Buena Vista Ponds overlook and managed to see a Rock Wren there, another one for our Malheur list.† Ironically, although I had only seen Rock Wren once before this year, it was on a Saturday.† I got this distant picture of the Rock Wren.
While we were driving along highway 205 Fred spotted a couple of Sandhill Cranes, which was one I needed for Saturday.† At the Buena Vista Ponds overlook I broke down and added Cliff Swallow to my Saturday list.† There were so many of them and they were so obvious that I just couldnít continue to ignore them.
We had been looking for Eastern Kingbird all week, and finally today we saw two of them and got great close looks at them, on the stretch of the Center Patrol Road between Buena Vista Ponds and the road to Diamond.† They didnít stick around for pictures unfortunately.
We drove toward Diamond, stopping from time to time to look at one bird or another.† We stopped at all the little ponds, looking for new ducks or water birds.† At the lake north of the Round Barn we saw some birds as we went by and I thought they looked interesting so we went back.† They turned out to be Eared Grebes, which we needed for our Malheur list.† There were also four Western Grebes there, but none were the less common Clarkís Grebe.
On the Narrows-New Princeton road we saw a raptor sitting in a field, and it turned out to have some kind of little varmint that it was eating.† I got some pictures, but we never were able to identify it.† Here are five pictures of our Unknown Raptor for the day.
I really donít know what it was.† My best guess would be Red-tailed Hawk, only because they have such a huge range of plumages, and I canít think of anything else that fits.† It really doesnít look like a Red-tail to me, though.
While I was taking those pictures, Fred noticed a sparrow that was first on a wire and then was taking a bath.† It turned out to be a Vesper Sparrow, which was a great one for both my Saturday list and our Malheur list.† In this first picture of the Vesper Sparrow, you canít really see the distinguishing facial markings, but you can see the rufous patch on its shoulder that is characteristic of that species
In this next picture you can see the facial markings better Ė especially the white crescent under the eye.
Here it is emerging from its bath.
Soon after that we hit highway 78, which we call Raptor Alley, and headed for home.† There were a lot of raptors along the way, and we kept stopping to try to ID them.† Here is a Red-tailed Hawk (I think) in a non-typical plumage.
Here is another hawk that I think was a Red-tailed Hawk, although Iím not sure of it.
Basically, if you have a large hawk and canít identify it as anything else, it is a reasonable assumption that it is a Red-tailed Hawk, since they have so many different looks.
I was hoping to get Golden Eagle for my Saturday list, and we saw one.† Here is a distant picture of an immature Golden Eagle.
We kept seeing raptors on poles and kept stopping.† At one point there was a smaller one on a pole and we went back to see it.† The light was difficult and there was more traffic than the other day, so I got out and walked back to check it out.† I got some pictures and we were able to identify it as a Prairie Falcon with the help of the pictures.† I thought for a while it might be a Peregrine Falcon of a particular subspecies that looks very much like a Prairie Falcon, but a Peregrineís wings reach to the tip of its tail and in this first picture from the back, you can see that the wings stop well short of the end of the tail.
Here are a couple of pictures from the front.† It was very accommodating in sitting there while I took pictures.
So, that was our day, and that was the end of our four full days of birding around Burns, Oregon and Malheur National Wildlife Refuge.
I added 19 species to Saturday, to bring it to 198.† Two of them were new for the year, to make my year list 308 now.† I added 14 species to my year list on this trip.† For my BAD bird today, Iíll take Ferruginous Hawk.† Tomorrow I head toward home, but it is about a nine hour drive, and I plan to break it up into at least two days.† Fred lives in Sacramento and will probably drive home tomorrow.
Sunday, May 28, 2017
Today was a travel day, as I headed for home.† I didnít want to drive the whole nine hours to home, though, so today I only drove about five hours and Iím staying in Kennewick, WA, in the same motel I stayed in on my way to Malheur.† I had plenty of time, so I thought I would try for some Sunday birds along the way.† As it turned out, the local Swainsonís Hawk was on his usual pole out of my back window at the motel, so I had a Sunday bird before I even left the room.
I packed up, had my breakfast, made a lunch, and was on the road by about 9:15.† I stopped to get my windshield washed and get a little gas, and then I went to the ponds on Hotchkiss Lane.† At the big water treatment pond I picked up Canvasback, Redhead, and Wilsonís Phalarope for my Sunday list.† As I was getting back into my car I realized I was hearing bird calls that were very interesting.† Based on how they sounded, I looked it up and played the call I suspected it was, and I was right.† The calls I heard are referred to as ďwinnowingĒ and they are made by Wilsonís Snipe, a bird I needed for Sunday.†† I put it on my list as a ďheard onlyĒ bird, but then as I headed toward the highway north I saw a Wilsonís Snipe on a post, and that promoted it from a ďheard onlyĒ to a regular ďseenĒ bird.† Here is the Wilsonís Snipe on its post.
I headed north and I stopped at Idlewild Campground, which is only about 20 minutes north of our motel in Burns.† As I drove in I heard a bird singing, and I thought I recognized it.† I stopped and got out and played the song I thought it was.† A bird flew in to a tree near me and sang back to me repeatedly.† I never did see it, but I was convinced it was a CASSINíS FINCH, my first of the year, so that one went onto my Sunday list as a ďheard onlyĒ bird.† I didnít like counting a year-bird based on ďheard onlyĒ, but themís the rules Iíve made for myself, so it went onto my list.
It was very quiet in the campground.† I walked around and enjoyed the beautiful sunny day, but there were almost no birds, and nothing I needed at all.† I played Mountain Chickadee, and the House Wrens that Fred and I had seen the other day responded and sang back to me.† I didnít need them, and I just posted several pictures of them, but they were so cute that here are two more House Wren pictures.† In the first one, it is singing back to me.
In this next one, I like the colors.
After about a half hour I gave it up and moved on to the next campground up the road a few miles, Joaquin Miller Campground.† I got out and played the song of a bird I have seen there before more than once, and today I heard one singing back to me from up the hill.† I kept playing the song, off and on, and it kept singing back to me.† Eventually I decided to put in on my list as a ďheard onlyĒ bird.† It was my first TOWNSENDíS SOLITAIRE of the year, but that is what it was, so it went onto my lists.† I stuck around a little more, though, and eventually it did fly in and sing to me from close by.† It got ďpromotedĒ to a ďseenĒ bird, like the Wilsonís Snipe had earlier.† Here are three pictures of it, showing it from different perspectives.† It is a long, slender bird, very plain in coloration, with a prominent white eye ring.
So, that was exciting, but it was time to move on.† I drove through the campground and I saw a colorful male Western Tanager.† I didnít need it for Sunday, but it was beautiful, so I got out and took some pictures.† Here is the male Western Tanager from the back.
Here is a side view that shows his bright yellow front.
While I was chasing the tanager for pictures, I noticed a little brown bird on the ground.† I had left my binoculars in the car, but I took some pictures.† I thought it looked like a sparrow, but when I looked at my pictures I could see it was a female Cassinís Finch.† That was the species I had counted as ďheard onlyĒ over at Idlewild Campground, so it got promoted to a seen bird, too.† Three times today I first counted a species as a ďheard onlyĒ one and then later saw one to take away the slight ďheard onlyĒ stigma.
Here are a couple of pictures of the rather drab female Cassinís Finch.
That was it for birding for me today.† It was almost noon, so I boogied up the highway into Washington, eating my humble lunch as I drove.† I got here about 4:15, which will give me plenty of time tonight to catch up with some things, after I get this report out.
I got 7 Sunday birds today, to bring me to 189 on Sunday.† Two of them were year-birds, and now my year total is 310.† For my BAD bird, Iíll take Townsendís Solitaire, a species I donít see very often Ė maybe only a half dozen times in my life so far, in fact, or maybe 7 or 8 Ė no more than that, though.† I can only think of 6 times, and always only a single bird.† Three of those 6 times were at Joaquin Miller Campground.
Tomorrow I think Iíll drive home.† It is only about a four hour drive without traffic, but on Memorial Day Monday, the traffic will be very heavy over Snoqualmie Pass, and it could be a five hour drive, I suppose, or more, with stop-and-go traffic.† I thought about staying over on this side of the mountains until Tuesday and looking for more birds, but Iím ready to be home.† Getting a Monday bird will be a little tricky, because I have most of the easy ones in the areas Iíll be driving through, from my earlier trips over the mountains this year.† I have a plan, though, and weíll see if it works out.† I need a BAD bird, too, but I have a plan for that as well.
Monday, May 29, 2017
I was checked out and on my way home by about 9:15 this morning.† Mostly it was a travel day, but I did a little birding.† Before I left Kennewick, I went down to the park along the river and found a California Gull, which I needed for Monday.† With that under my belt, I headed for home.
I drove straight to Ellensburg with only a stop to pee, and I got off the freeway there and headed up Highway 97 to Swauk Prairie.† Along the way I drove along Bettas Road to see what I could see.† I didn't get anything for my Monday list, but I saw a couple of Western Bluebirds, and that was a possible BAD bird for the day.
On the road up to Swauk Prairie I stopped and played the song of Mountain Chickadee.† At my first two stops I didn't get a response, although I did see a male Black-headed Grosbeak and a male Western Tanager, neither one of which I needed for Monday.† At the third stop, I was getting back into my car after having played the Mountain Chickadee song a few times, and I heard a chickadee call.† I got back out of the car and there were two Mountain Chickadees in the tree above me.† I didn't bother with trying for pictures because they are tough to get pictures of and I wanted to get on the road for home.† I knew the traffic was going to be horrendous.
While driving up Swauk Prairie Road I saw some birds, though, and I couldn't help myself - I stopped a couple of times to take pictures.† Here is a picture of a Savannah Sparrow with some food, presumably for its young.
Here are three pictures of a Horned Lark on a wire.† In the first two, it is singing.
I didn't need either of those two birds, but I like the pictures.
I drove along a couple of other roads but didn't see anything interesting.† I hit Interstate 90 at Exit 80, Bullfrog Road, which is a couple of miles west of Cle Elum.† Traffic was pretty much stop and go as far back as I could see, and probably for many miles.† I had missed some of it by the circuitous route I had taken, but I had no options from where I hit it.
It took 40 minutes to go the first ten miles, then 30 minutes to go the next 10 miles.† So, that was an hour and ten minutes to go 20 miles.† After that it pretty much opened up and the rest of the trip home was normal.† I got home just before 3:00.† I figure that the traffic cost me about 50 minutes overall.
I had two Monday birds, to bring Monday to 183 species.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Mountain Chickadee.† Now I need to get back to planning each day of birding, working around the weather and the things I need to do to catch up after having been gone for 9 days.
Tuesday, May 30, 2017
This morning I went over to Marymoor Park to look for the Pectoral Sandpiper that has been reported there in the last few days.† I read about it when I was in Oregon, and I figured I would miss it, since Pectoral Sandpipers are quite uncommon around here, and the few that show up and simply moving through on migration.† As I was driving to Marymoor, a little rain started falling.
I parked and walked along the slough at the dog park.† It sprinkled off and on, but it wasn't really a problem.† The water level was down a lot from the last time I was there, and there was plenty of mud for shorebirds.† I walked back and forth, but never saw the Pectoral Sandpiper.† There were a couple of Killdeer and one other shorebird I saw briefly, but it was too small to be the Pectoral Sandpiper.
I wanted to walk along the slough on the edge of the dog park, but it started to sprinkle a little more, and I decided to stay close to the car, rather than venture out looking for other birds I needed.† I ended up choosing to "see" one of the dozens of swallows I had been ignoring for weeks, and I got Violet-green Swallow for my Tuesday list.† I saw one perched in a tree halfway across the slough on an island, and I took some distant pictures.†† Here is a Violet-green Swallow.
You can see the green back and some of the violet tail in that picture.† In this next picture, you can see more of the violet tail.
In this third picture, in which the bird is preening, you can see even more of the violet tail color.
Later I had lunch with my friend Chris, and after lunch we went to Phantom Lake, as we usually do.† There were Purple Finches singing loudly, and Chris recognized the sound.† I listened to the song on my phone, and I agreed that's what they were.† We never saw one, but Purple Finch went onto my Tuesday list as a "heard only" bird.
So, I got two species for Tuesday, to bring it to 177 species.† For my BAD bird, I'll take Killdeer today.
Wednesday, May 31, 2017
This morning I went over to Wallace Swamp Creek Park.† I don't have many local birds that I still need for Wednesday, and I thought I had a good chance to see a Bushtit at the park because I had been shown a Bushtit nest there a few weeks ago.
As I walked through the park to the location of the Bushtit nest, I heard a Black-headed Grosbeak singing away.† I tracked it down and got this picture of a male Black-headed Grosbeak.
As I approached the nest I saw a bird fly out of it, so it seemed like the nest was still occupied, anyway.† I hung around and watched for a while.† Here is a picture of the Bushtit nest, partially hidden in the leaves.
You can see the entrance hole in that picture.† Here is a picture of it from the back, showing the shape of it.
It's amazing to think of those little birds constructing such a thing.† After a while I moved away a little bit, and a bird soon flew in.† I guess maybe they were waiting for me to move farther away from the nest.† Here is a picture of a male Bushtit near the nest.† He seems to have something in his beak, presumably food for young in the nest.
Male and female Bushtits look the same except that males have dark eyes and females have light colored eyes.† Here is a picture of the male and the female, both near the nest.
That's the female in the lower right corner, with the light colored eye.† The male had just left the nest and you can see one of his wings open, as well as his tail, which is spread.† You can also see that the female has some food in her beak; she was on her way to the nest, which must have chicks in it.† Here is a closer crop showing the female with her food.
While I was watching the Bushtits and trying for pictures, I took this next picture of a white rooster in the yard adjacent to the path where the nest was.
By the actual official rules of Bird-A-Day (BAD) birding, you can count any bird, even domestic species, but I'm not going to do that.† I only took the picture because I thought it was a handsome rooster.
There was a pair of Northern Flickers that had a nest in a dead snag, and I got this picture of a male Northern Flicker.
As I walked back toward my car, I heard some birdsong, and I thought I recognized it.† I played some songs and calls of Swainson's Thrush, which is what I thought I was hearing.† Eventually one flew in to check me out and I got these three pictures of a Swainson's Thrush.
It was only the second Swainson's Thrush that I have seen this year, but ironically, I saw the other one on a Wednesday, too, so it wasn't one for my Wednesday list.
A little farther along the path there was a Song Sparrow singing and posing for me, and I got this picture of a singing Song Sparrow.
That was it for my birding today.† As I mentioned, Wednesday is getting tough, due to the small number of local species I haven't seen on a Wednesday this year, so I didn't really want to go looking for any more.† I preferred to save them for a later Wednesday.
Bushtit made my Wednesday list 201 species, which ties it with Friday for the highest total of the seven days of the week.† I completed Bushtit, to make 95 species completed now - seen on all seven days of the week.† I'll take Swainson's Thrush for my BAD bid today (not the rooster).
I haven't specifically mentioned it recently, but my Day Of The Week streak is still alive. †That means that I have added a new species to each day's list on every day so far this year. †I have to get out birding every single day, and when I travel, I have to somehow find a new bird on my travel days as well. †I don't know how much longer that streak can last. †We leave for Yosemite in 16 days, and I hope to make it last until then at least. †Then I'll have the challenge of getting a new bird on each of the three days that we will be traveling to Yosemite. †I've done very well this year, and I'm running out of birds quickly, so we'll see how far I can go.