[Tweeters] Columbia Basin birding - day three 4/10

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Sat Apr 12 08:57:13 PDT 2014





Hey all!

So, day three of my trip around the Columbia Basin started with an attempt to get my first lifer in.. well a long time. I don't really chase rarities with much frequency, but Long-eared Owl is a resident bird that I have just always missed. Waking up in Ephrata and driving up to Northrup Canyon, I walked a short way up the trail before playing Long-eared. I heard the initial call back, perfectly echoed by the canyons, but that has happened to me before. After another few seconds, I got a response! A long-eared called down from the top of the canyon for a few minutes, replaced by a Great Horned not long after. Turkeys that normally hang out at Northrup point were in the canyon and very vocal!

I continued up to Grand Coulee Dam as the sun was rising. I tried for Dipper at the dam, but I... well, you know.. dipped. There were no surprises on the north end, really, but Banks Lake included a few Eared and Horned Grebes in breeding plumage as I drove. Returning to Northrup Canyon, I was greeted by a slough of birds from home on the west side - Red-breasted Nuthatch, Varied Thrush, Downy Woodpecker, Northern Flicker, Dark-eyed Junco, Bewick's Wren, American Robin, Ruby-crowned and Golden-crowned Kinglets, Black-capped Chickadee and Violet-green Swallow could all show up on a list at home, but was an unusual mix for Grant County. Say's Phoebe, Black-billed Magpie, Canyon Wren, and Mountain Chickadees kept me from getting too confused!

My next stop was Steamboat Rock State Park, where I found the first White-throated Swifts of the year for me in Grant, as well as Savannah Sparrows singing near the entrance. (Oh! I neglected to mention, a Lincoln's Sparrow at the entrance to Osborne Bay Boat ramp). I tried in vain for Rock Wrens at several stops driving down Lake Lenore, including a walk up to the caves. Quick stops at Soap Lake (lots of Ruddies) and Oasis Park in Ephrata (lots of Yellow-rumped Warblers), gave me no new birds, but I did find success taking Baird's Springs Road out of Ephrata, up and over the Beezley Hills. Very early on, I had singing Brewer's and Vesper's Sparrows, perched on the sage; Later up the road, I found a Sage Thrasher singing. I exited this dry road, passing more horses than cars in the road (are there wild horses up there...?), then made the quick trip across Douglas County to Chelan. My one productive stop in Chelan was at Confluence State Park, where my eBird alerts had been sending me emails about a lot of common birds that I hadn't yet found in the county. Walking from the main parking lot across the bridge to the viewpoint over the water, I found five new birds: Downy Woodpecker, Ring-necked Pheasant, American Wigeon, Double-crested Cormorant (finally!), and a not so common Greater Yellowlegs feeding where the Wenatchee River joined the Columbia. Out on the water were scads of Buffleheads and a Common Loon in breeding plumage. In the River, there were a couple Common Mergansers. I finished my day with a trip up Horse Lake Road over Wenatchee. I had dreams of Vesper Sparrow, or other sage-loving birds, but all I had was Meadowlarks! Still, the view was beautiful, and it was all-in-all a great three days! Happy birding, Tim BrennanRenton




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