[Tweeters] Wallow weekend report (pre-Little Bunting; Benton Co (WA) Snowy Owl

Stephen Shunk steve at paradisebirding.com
Tue Jan 29 11:44:14 PST 2013

(Sorry for the premature post earlier; I should compose these things

Hello all,

I just completed a weekend in Wallowa County and am happy to share my
report from an excellent trip, although it's a little anti-climactic with a
mega-rarity being found the day after we left! Of course, the most
frustrating part is that we probably drove right by the house where the
Little Bunting was found and it escaped our detection. Anyway, we had a
productive weekend, with some excellent birds, so here goes.

For the Tweeters folks, I'll start with the SNOWY OWL. Thanks to a tip from
MerryLynn Denny, we crossed the border (no passports required) into Benton
County, WA, and drove right to 9 Canyon Rd, east of I-82. We found a SNOWY
OWL less than 100m north of the road between the Mills Rd and Upper Blair
Rd junctions. It was a bit eerie out there, with the clouds hanging very
low and the massive wind turbines overhead, but the bird was no less
stunning and it sat in the field while we enjoyed its presence. We saw
numerous HORNED LARKS on the access roads, but not much else.

As for Wallowa County, we found most of our target birds, missing only
Gyrfalcon and Snow Bunting. Here are the highlights:

The most unexpected bird was a female EURASIAN WIGEON at Pete's Pond in
Enterprise. We also added CANVASBACK to our trip list there, with a pair
present, and two of my group had never seen a MUTE SWAN, so it was enjoyed
despite its non-wild provenance. We saw a number of COMMON MERGANSERS and
our only GREEN-WINGED TEAL of the trip at the large pond below the fish

GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH – our first encounter was a massive cloud of 500+
birds that flew through our bino fields-of-view while we were watching a
Red-tailed Hawk on Hwy 3 a few miles north of Enterprise and south of the
Leap Ln jctn. We followed them and they landed in a large gravel excavation
site, concentrating on what looked like a limestone outcrop in the middle
of the mine. We were able to scope them to confirm the ID before they flew
back en masse across the highway and disappeared over the eastern ridge.
So, we thought we would go look for them along Ant Flat Rd. Shortly after
entering the gulch on Ant Flat, we found a flock of 100+ and got excellent
looks right next to the road. We did not search for the rest of the flock.

GRAY PARTRIDGE - I saw more than I have ever seen in the region, the total
well over 100, with large groups on Golf Course Rd and Leap Ln, but
scattered elsewhere north and east of Enterprise.

SHARP-TAILED GROUSE – 3 birds seen on Leap Ln, just east of the jctn with
Golf Course.

AMERICAN TREE SPARROW – a few scattered but one large flock of 50+ on Golf
Course right at the Leap Ln jctn.

COMMON REDPOLL – 3 birds mixed in with the TREE SPARROW flock above

BOHEMIAN WAXWING – we initially had 5 poorly seen birds in the northernmost
neighborhood of Joseph, but then we found a flock of 100+ on Airport Ln
just west of the airport; I recommend search the mixed conifer stands in
the area for these birds, as they appeared to be feeding on juniper

NORTHERN SHRIKE – 3 birds seen well; 2 different birds on the eastern half
of Repplinger Ln., and another east of Joseph on Hurricane Ck. Rd.

NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL – 1 bird seen twice in downtown Joseph in the East
St/College Ct area, seen both north and south of Wallowa Ave.; second bird
seen on Jim Town Rd just west of Whiskey Ck Rd.

Other highlights included: 60+ WILD TURKEYS at Imnaha; 4 BARROW’S GOLDENEYE
at Deschutes River Park; 2 LONG-BILLED CURLEWS flying over I-84 somewhere
east of The Dalles; many raptors in Wallowa Valley, including 2 PRAIRIE
FALCON and 2 GOLDEN EAGLE (one of which was in Sheep Creek Cyn, along the
Imnaha Hwy).

Finally, the most bizarre bird was a nearly pure-white GREAT BLUE HERON
roosting across the boat ramp at Celilo Park along I-84. I will post some
photos later.

Steve Shunk

Stephen Shunk
Paradise Birding
P.O. Box 547
Sisters, OR 97759
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