[Tweeters] FLOW, BBWP and SOGR at Bethel Ridge and Some other Good Birds on the Way Down and Back

Blair Bernson blair at washingtonadvisorygroup.com
Thu May 30 08:07:48 PDT 2013

I made a quick trip to a few spots in Eastern WA
Tuesday and Wednesday trying mainly for some owls
I have missed. Basic plan was to be at Bethel
Ridge Tuesday night and depending on results there
also hit Wenas since I could not make the campout.

Plans were modified slightly when just as I was
leaving, Ryan Merrill's post appeared about the
Black Tern at Juanita Bay Park. So I got my first
"Eastern Washington Bird" there where a number of
birders were present (including Ryan - and thank
you to him for his always appreciated finds and
posts). A highlight was seeing hank and Karen
with their grand kids get onto the bird.

A brief stop at the Cle Elum Hatchery/Railroad
area had lots of Black Headed Grosbeaks and
warblers but nary a Veery which I expected. Then
it was on to Bethel Ridge going a long Canyon
Road. A stop at Roza yielded a heard but not seen
Chat and numerous warblers (Yellow and Yellow
Rumped, Western Tanagers, Bullock's Oriole, House
Wren etc). Returning to Canyon Road, birders were
seen with scopes out and a U-Turn found Barb Deihl
who had a Prairie Falcon and Chukar spotted far
away a cross the river. Then it was on to brief
stop at the Oak Creek Wildlife Refuge Headquarters
area. Relatively quiet but luckily found two
gorgeous Lark Sparrows a bird that has always been
difficult for me to find and these were FOY.

I made it to Bethel Ridge around 5:00 with the
plan to look for woodpeckers and "whatever" until
dark and I could try for owls. Many empids
(Hammonds and Dusky for sure and maybe a couple of
others), and several Western Tanagers and a pair
of Townsend Solitaires. I struck out on hoped for
White Headed Woodpecker but in the burn just
before FR 1304 I had a fabulously cooperative BBWP
perhaps 40 yards from the main road (below it).
She was initially in a tree maybe 80 feet from me
and then without any invitation flew into the tree
immediately next to where I was standing (with the
light behind be and thus on the bird) and perched
literally 10 feet away. I had to back up to get
pictures. She totally ignored me and drummed and
squeaked. We stayed together for maybe 10 minutes
and she remained after I left.

I went up and down the entire length of the road
twice finding a Williamson's Sapsucker, a
Northern Flicker and two Townsend's Solitaires
along the way. As it started to get dark (or at
least the sun was blocked in the shade) I listened
for owls and thought I had a soft spoken
Flammulated which turned out to be the first of 4
Sooty Grouse (Grice?). VERY soft
hooting/booming. I was able to locate two of the
birds and the others were only heard.

Finally when it was completely dark just before
10:00) I parked about a mile and a half uproad
from 1304 and there it was - the clearly
recognizable hoot of the Flammulated Owl. It
seemed reasonably close but I could not locate it
in my spotlight. I stayed enthralled for 15
minutes then went another half mile down road and
had a similar experience. I had played Western
Screech a couple of times earlier without success
and tried again a little further down - again no
success. I believe I could have traveled up and
down the road again and picked up more owls but I
was extremely pleased and decided to head off to
Wenas hoping to see Poorwills on the way in (I did
not) and get a few hours of sleep and rise for the
Dawn Chorus and perhaps see Poorwills then and
definitely hoping for White Headed Woodpeckers. I
slept in car without seeing another soul at Wenas
but unfortunately plans changed when it started
raining HARD around 3:30. So no sleep and what
had been a dry Wenas was now very wet. I went out
anyhow around 5:30 and heard a few birds - mostly
Robins. I retreated to the car and changed
clothes and waited until the rain at least slowed
to a misty drizzle around 7:00. I got very wet
walking around and had NO woodpeckers, but the
streamside trees were alive with Yellow, Yellow
Rumped, Wilsons, Nashville, and MacGillivrays
warblers. I did not hear any chats. There were
Black Headed Grosbeaks, Western Tanagers, Bullocks
Orioles and MANY Veeries. The Veeries were at
every streamside location seemingly new and trying
to establish territories and they filled the trees
with their song. I am sure there were at least 10
and I expect probably many more. Also again had
some gorgeous Townsend's Solitaires.

I left Wenas just after 9 and stopped along
Umtanum Road for Orioles and Blue Birds. There is
a Green Dot road off to the left (west) that has a
barbed wire gate across. It has always been
closed when I have gone by before. This time the
barbed wire was down so I drove in. It is a
gorgeous area - full of wild flowers and pretty
birdy. Cassin's Vireos, Tanagers, a Prairie
Falcon many Chipping Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows,
and finally a very distant White Headed WP.

I was concerned about no sleep so I headed home
planning a rest stop in Cle Elum for gas as well.
Did not bird further (but did look to see if Ryan
had come up with another great find...) and not
too far after Cle Elum it was mostly rain, often

The Flammulated Owl was the 31st Raptor in
Washington for "My Birthday Raptor Year" (October
5 2012 through October 4, 2013). Still have 5 to
go and they are not the easy ones so I was very
very happy about that one and the other birds were
a great bonus/treat as well.

Some pictures are at

Pictures from earlier Klickitat/Yakima trip are at

Blair Bernson

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