[Tweeters] East Cascades Foothills and Robinson Canyon

Jim Owens jimo at brainerd.org
Sat Jun 15 22:29:06 PDT 2013


On Saturday, June 15, Jeanelle Richardson and I led a Seattle Audubon Society field trip to the eastern side of the Cascades. Nine very capable and collegial participants joined our trip, adding immense visual and aural firepower to our efforts to explore some hotspots near Cle Elum and Ellensburg. The weather was warm and relatively wind-free, and though the height of breeding season has passed, we were still able to come up with approximately 84 species in a full day of birding.

We started our day at Bullfrog Pond, where we worked the ponds, Cle Elum River and dry forests and found Rufous Hummingbird, Downy and Hairy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Pileated Woodpecker, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Northern Rough-winged, Tree and Violet-green Swallows, Black-capped and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Red-breasted Nuthatch, House and Pacific Wren, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Veery, Swainson's and Hermit Thrushes, American Robins, Gray Catbird, Cedar Waxwings, MacGillivray's Warbler, Common Yellowthroat, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers, Spotted Towhee, Chipping, Song and White-crowned Sparrows, Dark-eyed Junco, Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeak, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brown-headed Cowbirds, a Cassin's Finch, Red Crossbills, Pine Siskins, American Goldfinch and Evening Grosbeaks.

We next drove to the Northern Pacific Ponds, where we picked up a family of Mallards, a pair of Cinnamon Teal, several Barrow's Goldeneye, Hooded Mergansers, a large family of Common Mergansers, California Quail, the resident Osprey, a vocalizing Virginia Rail, two Common Nighthawks, a Black-chinned Hummingbird, a mystery Empidonax, Cassin's and Warbling Vireos, a family of Pygmy Nuthatches in a snag near the road, House and Pacific Wrens, several Gray Catbirds, Cedar Waxwings, Nashville, Yellow and Yellow-rumped Warblers, several Bullock's Orioles and Purple Finch.

A quick drive along Swauk Prairie Road delivered Vesper and Savannah Sparrows, Western Meadowlarks, Tree Swallows nesting in roadside boxes, and Red-tailed Hawks and Turkey Vultures in the distance.

At the bottom of Reecer Creek Road, we found 23 species, including a Killdeer and Wilson's Snipe on a stick seen on Smithson Road, American Kestrel, Western Wood-Pewee, a surprise Eastern Kingbird, Lazuli Buntings, and a Bullock's Oriole.

After several scouting trips to lower Umptanum Road, Jeanelle and I had almost given up hope of finding a Yellow-breasted Chat in the riparian jungle alongside the road where chats have been seen in past years, but today the group's luck was good and we briefly saw and mostly heard a Yellow-breasted Chat opposite the rock quarry at the bottom end of the canyon. A friendly Rock Wren serenaded us from a nearby telephone wire and we got good looks at a Bullock's Oriole and other birds before heading up Umptanum Road to Old Durr Road, where during a brief stop we found several brilliant Mountain Bluebirds and a Brewer's Sparrow.

Our last stop was Robinson Canyon, which was somewhat quiet on a warm afternoon but still gave us 26 species. We walked up the road beyond the gate to the L.T. Murray Wildlife Recreation Area and part of the trail up the canyon and saw a Golden Eagle perched on a cliff on the skyline above the canyon, three Common Nighthawks, a Rufous Hummingbird, Gray and Pacific-slope Flycatchers, many Warbling Vireos, two surprise Bushtits that flew in front of David and Karen Adair, the House Wren that guards the gate into Robinson Canyon, a MacGillivray's Warbler and several Yellow Warblers, Lazuli Buntings, Bullock's Orioles and a Purple Finch.

Great company, good weather and challenging birding made this trip enjoyable for all.

Jim Owens
Mercer Island

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