[Tweeters] a brilliant day near Ellensburg - 2/15/13

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Mon Feb 18 12:51:41 PST 2013

WHAT A DAY !!! Set out to check on favorite birds and bird sites in Central WA, after friend, Ron did a little X-country skiing up at Snoqualmie Pass, so we had a good 6 hours to look for our targets and be open to whatever showed up. There weren't a lot of birds out and about, but what we did see, with a few surprises thrown in, made for major ecstasy !

Here are some of the results of our searches:

< none of the Great Horned Owl nests we had found and followed last year, were active - some had Red-tailed Hawks sitting on branches, waiting..., but most were just vacant (one was no longer there). Our only GHOW was one we saw on Umptanum Rd (on posts) at around 6 p.m.

< a number of Rough-legged Hawks flying around and perching in an area along the Taneum Crk. Rd., in front of areas that were burned over last summer/early fall - looks like there will be much good area for Black-backed Woodpeckers this year, IF they don't cut down all the blackened trees - there is quite a bit of burn debris and debris-removal going on over there....

< Red-tailed Hawks were in semi-abundance on the drive north of Ellensburg and some were particularly beautiful.

< the Cle Elum Bakery had some yummy sliced fruit bars spiced with cardamon, and my favorite cinnamon-raisin bread. I also found a requested jarred mustard enhanced with Walla Walla sweet onions and horseradish, which I can't wait to try.

< in some likely spots for Northern Pygmy Owls, we were teased by several NPOW-shaped flickers, clusters of leaves, and finches :-) - one of the Northern Flickers we saw, caught Ron's eye as a Lewis's Woodpecker, but served as a reminder that, what you want to see, you can sometimes construe other things to be - the funniest example of this was the Snowy Owl that Ron thought he spotted on a metal rooftop of a barn, which, after we turned around and went back to look again, of course showed itself to be a light fixture that was reflecting white ! After that, we saw many more of such fixtures, commonly used on farm/ranch properties. So, no SNOW.

< one American Kestrel on a wire (and then a pole)

< down in the Yakima River Canyon the ki-ki call of a falcon alerted us to the presence of a Prairie Falcon - when that one was answered by another, with a solicitation call and an actual bird swooped down from the top of a series of cliffs, it was heavenly - a female PRFA perched and preened on a rock outcropping that was amazingly close to where we were - we watched it for at least 45 min., both on the rock and when it flew up, up and away to a cliff area at least a half-mile away, but still viewable with binoculars and a scope - the sun finally receded from the cliffs and the Prairie gal disappeared into the darkening background photos of this bird can be viewed on my Flickr acct. in the set "another Prairie nice day, but in Prairie country - 2/15/13" : http://flic.kr/s/aHsjE2ipv4

< Canyon Wrens calling were the frosting on the sweet cake of the Prairie Falcon session we had, and were heard in the same area as the falcons.

< the Umptanum Rd. giant Red-tailed Hawk nest that we monitored last year, was inactive at this point.

< classy-looking Magpies popped into view on & off throughout the afternoon and occasionally we heard a vocalization

< our final search was for a good meal and was met with success in Ellensburg at the Palace Cafe on Main St. - after downing Cobb salads and appetizer fried green beans, even though we were quite full, we managed to snarf down amply hot-fudged sundaes. Mmmmm good!

More photos of this splendid trip, can be viewed in another Flickr set : "Before & After the Prairie Falcon Session" - CWA 2/15/13" :


Ron took some pics, too, and, I will add some of them to my Flickr acct. as soon as he gets home and can import them to his computer.

Well-worth the drive and fascinating to see this part of the state in winter (it was my first trip there at this time of year) - there was a little snow, some ice and icicles, leafless ghostly trees and a lot of early spring color (golden, orange, beet red) in the branches of bushes and trees along the way - the clear, blue sky, sunshine and lack of wind was cause for celebration. And I-90 was, for the most part, dry with little traffic.

Such luck !

Barb Deihl

North Matthews Beach - NE Seattle

barbdeihl at comcast.net

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