[Tweeters] 7 days on the dry side loooong

Marv Breece marvbreece at q.com
Sun Mar 3 12:00:11 PST 2013

Grab your coffee cup, remove your shoes and have a seat. This is gonna be a long one.

I left home in Seattle Sunday morning to bird the Waterville Plateau and Okanogan Highlands. But then reports of Clarkston Iceland Gulls expanded the trip. I'll stick to highlights or we're gonna have another War and Peace on Tweeters.

Sunday, March 24
First birding stop was the Swauk Cemetery in Kittitas county, where I found a WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER. WESTERN BLUEBIRDS were along Swauk Prairie Road. Later, leaving Orondo and heading up the hill on Hwy 2 in Douglas County, a GOLDEN EAGLE http://www.pbase.com/marvbreece/image/149029678 took flight. Up on the Waterville Plareau, a PRAIRIE FALCON was perched atop Lone Butte on Hwy 172. Six SNOW BUNTINGS at Hwy 172 and B. In Bridgeport a MERLIN, SHARP-SHINNED HAWK and AMERICAN KESTREL came into view in rapid succession. On Central Ferry Canyon Road was one (1) BOHEMIAN WAXWING. A BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER was at Packwood Cemetery. RED CROSSBILLS were vocal and many, allowing great looks.

Monday, March 25
The first thing I managed to do in the Okanogan Highlands was to get stuck in the snow. To make a long story short, a friendly local (I presumed) couple in a pick up pulled me out with ease. Thank goodness for TOWING STRAPS! They would accept no money for their good deed. On to the birds. Five BALD EAGLES http://www.pbase.com/marvbreece/image/149029685 at a carcass on Hungry Hollow Rd. COMMON REDPOLLS at Hungry Hollow Rd, Mary Ann Creek Rd and the Nealy Rd feeders. One GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH at Nealy Rd. Later, on Hwy 97, just north of Omak, I spotted a perched NORTHERN GOSHAWK http://www.pbase.com/marvbreece/image/149029682. Along Conconully Rd was a HARLAN'S RED-TAILED HAWK. http://www.pbase.com/marvbreece/image/149029683 No grouse at Scotch Creek but at Happy Hill Rd, a NORTHERN SHRIKE was terrorizing a group of starlings. No WW Crossbils could I find in Conconully, but I enjoyed a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE.

Tuesday, March 26
Started the day in Conconully. Once again, no WW Crossbills. CLARK'S NUTCRACKERS were many and noisy along the hillside. I walked the streets and saw a nice variety of birds, but nothing really of note. I then visited Cameran Lake Rd. Saw a SNOWY OWL 6.7 miles from Hwy 97 at the south end of the loop. Likely the same one Carol Riddell saw previously. Thanks, Carol. The Bridgeport Bar was relatively dead. No American Tree Sparrow at the east end. Only White-crowned and House Sparrows. Towards the west end, a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE http://www.pbase.com/marvbreece/image/149029686 popped up. Not to be ignored, a HERMIT THRUSH wormed its way into a photo. Next bird was a VARIED THRUSH, and the next was an AMERICAN ROBIN, for 4 thrushes in a row. Add the bluebird from a couple of days ago, and you have a thrush flush.

Wednesday, March 27
It was time to head for Clarkston. Loooong drive. Along the way I was entertained on Hwy 155 by NORTHERN SHRIKE, AMERICAN KESTREL, CANYON WREN and PRAIRIE FALCON.
I found no unusual gulls at Swallow's Park in the remaining daylight and resolved to try again next day.

Thursday, March 28
In the early AM I could not find a single gull at Swallow's Park. On the way to 3 mile rapids, a NOTERHERN GOSHAWK circled over the town of Asotin. At 3 mile rapids were a few of the more common gulls and a SLATE DARK-EYED JUNCO. Then I headed for Clearwater Bar on the Lewiston side. There were perhaps 20 gulls at the bar. No iceland Not promising. But at about 9:30AM, the juv ICELAND GULL flew in. Gloom and doom morphed into elation. It didn't stay long, so after awhile, I left as well. Back to Swallow's Park where the same (I assume) juv ICELAND GULL http://www.pbase.com/marvbreece/image/149029688 was there waiting for me, wondering where I had been. By then it was 11:00AM. This time, the looks were closer and not so brief. And patience paid off as the adult ICELAND GULL http://www.pbase.com/marvbreece/image/149029688 appeared a bit later. Both of these gulls were at the south end of Swallow's Park in Clarkston. Huge thanks to Terry Gray, Mike Clarke, Keith Carlson and others who have found and reported on these 2 treasures. There was also a THAYER'S GULL and a GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL among the more common gulls. A drake EURASIAN WIGEON was at the other end of the park.

Friday, March 1
I left Clarkston early, heading west through Garfield and Columbia counties. At the city limits of Dayton, 2 Mule Deer decided to cross the road where I was. I split the pair, taking the Subaru between them, not knowing how I missed them. For sure, both critters altered their gaits, as did I.
At Ice Harbor Dam in Walla Walla county, I was surprised to see 10 AMERICAN WHITE-PELICANS. I visited some of the Richland parks. Most notable was a MERLIN that zoomed close by overhead at Leslie Groves Park. Michael Hobbs had recently sung the praises of the Ringold Hatchery in Franklin county, so that's where I went next. He was right. I didn't see Tom's dipper, or most of the birds Michael reported. But I spent 2-3 hours there and enjoyed it very much. The birds I did see were: adult GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL, 2 MEW GULLS, an adult and a 2nd winter, VARIED THRUSH, CEDAR WAXWINGS, GREAT HORNED OWL, COOPER'S HAWK and another SLATE DARK-EYED JUNCO. Oh, and a Muskrat in the stream. I headed north to Othello and Moses Lake

Saturday, March 2
At Othello and the Para ponds, I was hopng to locate a massive flock of blackbirds, I was looking for Tricolored Blackbird, Yellow-headed Blackbird and a hopeful Rusty Blackbird. There were plenty of blackbirds, but scattered about in small groups. Plan B. Visited the county line ponds on Hwy 26 near the Adams/Grant line. There were 19 TUNDRA SWANS and 7 DUNLIN as well as many assorted ducks and Canada Geese.
One of my favorite places is Lower Crab Creek Road, in Adams, but mostly Grant county. I am never disappointed by a visit there and yesterday was no exception. While looking for Tree Sparrows on B St (AKA Corfu, I think) a couple small flocks of SANDHILL CRANES announced their presence, and then flew overhead. Very nice. No Tree Sparrow, by the way. Nearer the west end of the road, a pair of SAY'S PHOEBES called repeatedly, apparently nesting under the bridge. Then, farther west, a PRAIRIE FALCON zomed past. Couple minutes later, a NORTHERN GOSHAWK crossed the road and flew at full speed into a copse of trees. Good things often come in 3's. As I drove away from the gos, I noticed something by the road in my peripheral visiion. No. It couldn't be. Whipped the car around and there was a perched MERLIN, just waiting for me (right). Three class A raptors in less than 15 minutes. A nice way to end the trip.

Marv Breece
Seattle, WA
marvbreece at q.com

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