[Tweeters] From 'Ledging' to Fledging on Canyon Rd., and More... - 5/28/13

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Fri May 31 06:18:08 PDT 2013


After seeing Warren Clemens' post and photos about his great time over in Wenas last weekend, I was spurred on to return to see the emerging Prairie falcons again. Within 5 min. of leaving the house on Monday and taking chances with the weather, I got a call from friends who were already over in Ellensburg, telling me of the dismal rainy conditions, so I waited until the following day, with fantastic results.

Tues. afternoon, I headed straight to Canyon Rd, Milepost 4 and found the same friends just setting up their scope and photography gear. The nestlings were turning into 'nedglings', out of the nest cave and running the gamut of movements, on and around the nest-cave outcropping, including the back side of that rock. Their activities ranged from perching to scurrying to fly-hopping, and included vocalizing when a parent brought in a snack (to the back side of the outcropping). We all tried getting photos (and some video) of the action, with a lot of blur and falcon-free ledge shots to show for it. However, I did manage to get a few decent images during the circus (link to Flickr photos below) and friends Dory & Ray will likely have gotten a few more. We met an avid falcon-follower named Ralph, who pulled in as we were there, and told us that there were 5 young and, as of that morning, all had left the nest-cave, to explore and try out their flapping apparati out on various ledges of the outcropping. I personally do not recall having seen any of the young actually fly any more distance than a few feet, but often, the view was obscured when a perching and flapping youngster would be trying to balance on an edge, and the wind would catch its tailfeathers and, woops !, the bird would fall off or over the edge, often to a place where we couldn't see it. It would right itself and get back up (only fell a very short distance), move to a new position and continue the process. There was fairly constant movement on the outcropping - quite unpredictable where the next action would occur. In-and-out of view they were, the whole time we watched and tried to photograph (maybe about 45 min.) Every so often we would note an adult bird watching from a neighboring cliff. More folks showed up to watch and/or just ask what we were looking at, including a couple from Kent, who told us later, at another site, that the sheriff had shown up at MP4 after we had moved on to look for some Golden Eagle activity. They said they told him to check for us just up the road - we did see him, but he flew by pretty quickly. I guess the bullseye on the rear end of my car wasn't enough to get him to stop and chat :-)

Ralph (Meier) shared some of the YouTube videos and information that he has made and acquired over the past few years - a real friendly guy. You can look up his videos on Prairie Falcons, Peregrine Falcons, Golden Eagles, Cooper's Hawks and probably more, on YouTube - they are under "RHM Prairie Falcon (or one of the other raptors mentioned). Or you can click on this link he sent me on Wed., and that will lead you to more of his 1000 or so videos !!! The link to the Canyon Rd. Prairie Falcon chick video, from a week ago is :

05/23/13 RHM 5 Prairie Falcon Babies (Yakima Canyon Wa.)

At the county-line view spot we stopped at, for the Golden Eagle nest and hopefully a GOEA or 2, we found the nest (way across the river and on a cliff edge of one of the many 'banded' cliffs off to the west). We never saw any of the Goldens, chick or adult. We did start hearing distant Prairie Falcon calls and, upon scanning the tops of the cliffs, I spotted a perched PRFA, and, minutes later, a Chukar, perched on the right-hand end of that same cliff top ! That made the 2nd observation of amicable relations between the 2 species. The other was back at the PRFA site and I didn't discover it until I uploaded my photos - a juvenile Chuckar standing behind and to the side of, one of the wing-flapping PRFA fledglings. You can see it in a couple of my photos - what a fun surprise. I guess shooting blindly can have its payoffs :-)

Dory and Ray and I decided to continue up Canyon Rd. to check out some of the other sites that both Ralph Meier and Blair Bernson had told us about (he had stopped at the GOEA view pulloff). Along the road and at a few of the suggested pullovers, we saw and heard: Black-headed Grosbeak, Yellow-Breasted Chat, Red-winged Blackbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, California Quail, Common Raven, a flycatcher or 2, Bullock's Oriole, Mallard, Red-tailed Hawk, Bald Eagle (being chased by blackbirds (not crows !), Osprey (one carrying a fish), Western Kingbirds, and others I can't remember or missed because I was too preoccupied looking for more raptors.

We stopped near MP15 to view and photograph the Bald Eagle family - 2 chicks - the 2 adults perched in the pine next to the nest pine. We finally could see both chicks and Dory managed to catch one of them with her camera, when it briefly stood up in the nest - the wind, a little rain and probably tiredness, seemed to keep the young hunkered down most of the time. Through a rain-spattered windshield, I saw, at round MP17, in the cliffs to the east, a couple of falcons, but, when I pulled over to look, I was unable to find them again - looked like Prairies - something to look for on my next trip over.

Dinnertime - we dined at the Palace Cafe on Main St. - good, but too much food ! We all were filled to the brim when we left. It was only 8.p.m. and I decided to head to Umptanum Rd. to try for some evening birds - caught the Red-tailed Hawklets and Mom finishing up dinner with the final rays of sun still on them. The 3 young were getting closer to fledgepoint.

Western Meadowlarks sang most of the time I slowly drove the road to the Upper Canyon turnout where Ump. Rd. turns into Wenas Rd. I tried to ID a calling sparrow when I was stopped, but was unsuccessful. The sky was fairly clear, but there were enough clouds to make a pretty sunset. As I slowly drove through the farm valley part of the road, I stopped to watch a Great Horned Owl on a telephone pole - got one silhouette shot before it flew off to some trees on the other side of the road. I made sure I slowed to 25 mph near the sheriff's office and looked for a lurking police car, but saw none, and crawled on to the stoplight at "Subway" corner. It was only 9 p.m. and I decided to head back to Seattle. Before reaching home, I stopped to listen to a couple of hissing Barn Owls at a park along the way.

Mighty fine day - for photos, see the following 3 Flickr sets:

http://flic.kr/ps/21o68C "MP4 PRFA Begin Fledging"

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjFyUBkZ "Other Birds & Wildlife"

http://flic.kr/s/aHsjFyQvrp "Landscapes"


Happy Trails !


Barb Deihl

North Matthews Beach - NE Seattle

barbdeihl at comcast.net







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