[Tweeters] Wenas report; Prairie Falcons (pics)

Warren Clemans wumpusbear at gmail.com
Tue May 28 08:27:11 PDT 2013


My family and I attended our first Wenas Campout over the weekend. We
arrived about 10 minutes after the rain stopped on Friday afternoon. A few
rainy interludes didn't dampen spirits or keep the birds down too much. We
did the Black Canyon field trip on Saturday. Leader Michael Hobbs had a
fantastic ability to hear, identify, and point out a huge variety of
birds. A Rock Wren greeted us within the first few minutes on the trail.
Other highlights included Chipping Sparrow, MacGillivray's Warbler,
Olive-sided Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, Bullock's Oriole, Brewer's Sparrow,
Dusky Flycatcher, Townsend's Warbler, White-breasted Nuthatch, Cassin's
Vireo, Vesper Sparrow, House Wren, Lewis's Woodpecker, Golden Eagle, and a
Western Kingbird on the drive out. You know it's a good day when your
leader (jokingly) refers to Lazuli Buntings as "trash birds." They
were all over the place. Thanks to Michael for a really amazing trip.

Sunday's field trip, again with Michael, was a 20-person assault on Big
Burn Canyon. The weather was drippy and the birds were subdued, but we
still saw some unusual Bushtits low in the canyon, Nashville Warbler,
Townsend's Solitaire, and an Olive-sided Flycatcher that demonstrated the
proper technique for disarming a large bee before eating it. We also saw a
couple of rattlesnakes--a first for me despite growing up in Eastern
Washington.

Five of us from the Big Burn trip spent a couple of hours birding Hardy
Meadows on the way back to camp. Hardy was more productive than Big Burn.
We were greeted by an Eastern Kingbird flycatching below the road, and then
a pair of tree swallows *in flagrante delicto*, as they say in criminal
law. We had Western Bluebirds, Downy Woodpecker, House Wren, Bullock's
Oriole, and Lazuli Bunting. No Chat, though. We had a really nice
American Kestrel and Calliope Hummingbird on the way back to camp.

One of my favorite experiences of the weekend was a nighttime hike up the
creek. My headlamp was reflected back at me in a fiery point...Common
Poorwill. I took my daughter back on Sunday night and we saw 4 or 5 of
them. Tracking them with the headlamp as they fly gives the effect of
flames streaking through the forest. A really magical thing.

We visited the Prairie Falcon nest in Yakima Canon on our way back to
Seattle. The first thing we saw was a bird with his back to us flapping
his wings. Over the next 15 minutes or so, the bird's two siblings came
out to join him/her. We saw the adults high in the sky, and one landed on
a nearby cliff to oversee proceedings at the nest. The juveniles took
turns flapping their wings, trying to figure out what they're meant to do.
It was a really amazing thing to see. I don't know how long it will be
before they start to fly, but I assume it will be soon. Shortly after we
arrived, a ranger showed up, parked a ways away, and kept an eye on us
until we left. I think it's a good thing that there appears to be an
official effort to protect these birds from over-zealous observers at this
critical point in their development. The view from the road is perfectly
fine if you have a scope and/or long lens, but I can imagine people wanting
to climb up for a better look.

Pictures from the weekend are in this set:

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjFuFZRQ

If you've never been to Wenas, you should give it a try.

Best,
Warren
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