[Tweeters] Southwest Washington birding

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Sun Oct 13 21:43:25 PDT 2013

Hey Tweets!

I got spoiled this weekend - getting to stay with an old high school friend who is living in Cathlamet, and getting to explore Wahkiakum and Cowlitz counties with some people that know every corner of them.

I left work in Kent at 3 and was able to get to Lewis County to bird Riffe Lake a little bit. The highlight on the East end of the lake was a flock of 12 Greater White-fronted Geese and a Northern Harrier; On the west end of the lake, I had a few Western Grebes, which had been tough elsewhere in the county. I birded Swofford Pond for a bit, and thought the far side of the lake looked like Barred Owl habitat as it was just after sunset. I gave a few calls and got no response, but found one on a power pole on the side of the road as I left! This was the first of five owl species I had during the weekend.

I stayed the night with my friend just north of Cathlamet, and after chatting until 11 or so, I stepped out to try for owls, and got a Northern Saw-whet. The next morning, I had a Great Horned Owl farther up the road before going to meet up with Andrew Emlen. We birded from his house out to Altoona, then on to the very East end of Julia Butler Hansen before hitting Puget Island. The highlights (outside of simply getting to see all of the little corners of the county!) were Common Loon and Western Grebe from Altoona road, lingering Wood Ducks, Caspian Terns and Barn Swallows, and a few early winter birds like Western Meadowlark. Also on the move were hundreds of Northern Pintails and about 50 Band-tailed Pigeons flying together. I hit Clark County a little bit before getting to my hotel in Kelso. It was getting late, but I hadn't been to places like Shilapoo, Frenchman's Bar or Vancouver Lake. I didn't find any extraordinary species, but the number of Cackling Geese at Frenchman's Bar was amazing! I didn't even bother estimating, but they darkened parts of the sky when they took flight.

Today was nearly all Cowlitz County birding with Russ Koppendrayer. I got up early and got my fourth owl of the weekend - a Barn Owl at the far end of Willow Grove. Russ and I met up and drove up past Cougar to FR 8100 where we had many Varied Thrushes (!), Hairy Woodpeckers and a Northern Pygmy-Owl. On the way back down, we stopped at an overpass to look for American Dippers on a fast moving stream and found 8 (!!) including one that buzzed us flying over the road. We slipped across the river east of Cougar into Clark County... waited... waited... and got a flock of Red Crossbills flying overhead - my 100th bird in Clark County.

At Woodland Bottoms, we found surprisingly few geese, but got quite a few passerines. We went from there to Kalama, where we had Western and Thayer's Gulls, and four Horned Larks (continuing birds). We dipped on Red-shouldered Hawk at Willow Grove but finished the day with a cooperative Lincoln's Sparrow at the Mint Farm in Longview.

Happy Birding!

Tim Brennan

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