[Tweeters] WOS/Spokane Audubon Migrant Trip

Isacoff, Jonathan isacoff at gonzaga.edu
Sun Sep 1 10:08:32 PDT 2013


4 birders enjoyed a great trip yesterday. Our target was migrants and we found a lot of them. Before even reaching our first spot, Bassett Park (Washtucna), we had 3 young male ELK in the middle of open wheat country near Ralston, WA, a sight none of us had seen in or near that location before. Bassett Park was very active. Warblers seen included:

Wilson's (abundant)

10 species of flycatcher (i.e., every E. WA. species except Least and Ash-throated):

Wood Pewee (abundant)
Hammond's (abundant)
Say's Phoebe
Eastern and Western Kingbird

All 3 Vireos were seen, including a highlight of 2 RED-EYED and 2 WARBLING within about 18 inches of one another feeding at eye level in one of the bush's along the creek. A FOX SPARROW made a very brief appearance and there as a flyover AMERICAN PIPIT, one of many to come in the next few weeks. The best bird was a LEWIS'S WOODPECKER nicely spotted by Mike Clarke. Also a female BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD Mike picked out at the ace of the cliff, always fun -- and difficult -- to observe not at a feeder.

Ellenger Homestead didn't have a ton of birds but had quality over quantity with another LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (again spotted by Mike "Lewis" Clarke!) and the aforementioned WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, a very rare bird in the Columbia Basin. At Sprague Lake we observed many Western and Eared Grebes among the mega-abundant Coots and Ruddy Ducks. A highlight was a small family group of 3 chicks still begging for food, 3 Westerns, and 1 CLARK'S GREBE, suggesting possible hybridization (Clark's have been seen paired with Western's at Sprague earlier in season during years past). In addition to all of the typical birds expected at this time of year was a flock of about 25 COMMON TERNS and a flock of 27 RED-NECKED PHALAROPES. The Sprague Resort was a little quiet for the time of year but there were abundant WHITE-CROWNED (early) and Chipping Sparrows, typical Warblers and Flycatchers, and a nicely cooperative young SORA that was feeding in the open. Another highlight was a very striking GRAY-HEADED (orestera race) ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, with a completely light blue-gray head nearly down to the breast and very pronounced white supercilium. Photos of the Elk, Lewis's, and Nuthatch are at www.flickr.com/photos/isacoff.

Many have asked: Ellenger homestead is an abandoned farm (public access) 7 miles North of Washtucna directly off the main highway to/from Ritzville, turn onto west side of road. There is a clearly marked sign for Ellenger Road (really a gravel driveway with overgrown weeds) with an old tractor parked at the end. Some bushwhacking is involved as the site is completely overgrown.

Good birding,
Jon Isacoff, Spokane

Jonathan B. Isacoff
Chair, Environmental Studies
Associate Professor, Political Science
Gonzaga University, Box 52
Spokane, WA 99258-0052
isacoff at gonzaga.edu

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