[Tweeters] UWRA trip to the Umtanum - 6-11-2013

Denis DeSilvis avnacrs4birds at outlook.com
Wed Jun 12 22:40:45 PDT 2013


Tweeters,

I think something like 15 of us were on the UW Retirement Association
(retired faculty and staff from the UW) birder trip to the Umtanum on
Tuesday, bailing out of the damp, cool weather west of the Cascades and into
the comfortable, but windy (15-25mph) east side. We hit both ends of Umtanum
Creek – Canyon Road and Umtanum Road – gathering good birds, dust, and fun
along the way. Compared with a scouting trip I made last week, birdsong was
almost non-existent in places, most likely because of the wind. However, we
did find 55 species with excellent views of some, and just two that were
heard only. (And the cookies were great, too.)



The Canyon Road side was pretty windy, but as boots hit the ground, we heard
the parking-lot YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT singing from shrubbery at the end of
the picnic tables. (We got excellent views of what was likely this bird when
we stopped back for lunch.) A COMMON MERGANSER flew past us, upriver, and a
fully adult BALD EAGLE was fishing just to the upstream side of the
footbridge, near where we spotted a SONG SPARROW. And then things were
pretty quiet, with not much seen, until one of our group was making a video
and found a GREAT HORNED OWL in the cottonwoods just past the
trudge-through-the-overhanging-foliage part of the trail just after the
railroad “underpass.” Almost everyone managed to get a view of this adult
bird before it flew up Umtanum Creek.



After that, we found BARN, TREE, and CLIFF SWALLOWS, BUSHTITS (!), TURKEY
VULTURES, a very cooperative singing LAZULI BUNTING, an even more
cooperative singing HOUSE WREN, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE, SPOTTED TOWHEE, and for
me, a déjà vu view (or is that déjà view?) of a PRAIRIE FALCON being
dive-bombed by an AMERICAN KESTREL. We hit the area around the first big
aspen grove and set up scopes to see the three juvenile Prairie Falcons at
their cliff house, together with what was likely the adult female, who
appeared to be cleaning house (shoving debris over the edge of the cliff). A
House Wren we spotted last week entering, but not leaving, a nest-hole in an
aspen was ferrying food to the nest this week. Further up, we were treated
to a female Lazuli Bunting on a rock in the creek eating a butterfly. On the
way back to the footbridge, we picked up WHITE-THROATED SWIFTS and a GREAT
BLUE HERON, and heard a CANYON WREN in the distance.



After lunch and resting up watching the aforementioned chat, we headed to
the Umtanum road, where we tallied the usual suspects: BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE,
MOUNTAIN and WESTERN BLUEBIRDS, AMERICAN ROBIN, WESTERN MEADOWLARK, NORTHERN
FLICKER, WESTERN TANAGER, and BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK (seen here, but not at
the other end of the creek). Fortuitously, we stopped along the road to try
to get a view of a singing BREWER’S SPARROW, and found a very vocal, highly
visible SAGE THRASHER singing from its named shrub. It was quite likely one
of the longest and best views of this species I’ve had in several years. At
the Umtanum DNR parking lot, we garnered MALLARD, and COMMON RAVEN. Further
in, we were treated to views of post-bathing RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER as well as
BULLOCK’S ORIOLE.



We left the creek and drove to the well-established LEWIS’S WOODPECKER site
further along toward the Wenas area, and found two nesting pairs. At that
spot, we also had about a half-dozen RED-CROSSBILLS, and an AMERICAN CROW.
By now, it was getting to be mid-afternoon, so we headed back toward
Ellensburg, spotting a KILLDEER with at least three very small Killdarlings,
a WESTERN KINGBIRD, and a pair of CALIFORNIA QUAIL.



Heading back over Snoqualmie summit, we counted ourselves lucky we had good
birding and weather (despite the wind), and a convivial group. And as we
headed down toward Issaquah, the rain washed most of the dust off our
vehicles – what more could you ask for?



May all your birds be identified,



Denis DeSilvis

Roy, WA

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