[Tweeters] Eastern Washington Mar 12 to 15th, 2014
paul.webster at comcast.net
Mon Mar 17 20:13:01 PDT 2014
Barbara and I joined Penny and David Koyama for a trip through Eastern
Washington last Wednesday through Saturday, stopping in Grant, Lincoln,
Spokane, Pend Oreille, and Adams Counties. The season was just turning to
spring, though the Columbia Basin was further along than Spokane and Pend
Oreille counties. In fact, in the last county it still felt like late
winter. Our bird list totaled 82 species, thanks in good measure to birders
in the east who posted trip records that helped us choose our destinations.
Our first stop was Ephrata, where we birded the Oasis Trailer Park and Golf
Course on the south end of the city. We found TREE and VIOLET-GREEN
SWALLOWS, and a large group of some 40 CEDAR WAXWINGS. East of Wilson Creek
we found BALD EAGLE, NORTHERN HARRIER, PRAIRIE FALCON, and the icing on our
cake was a FERRUGINOUS HAWK circling high above the marsh.
On Thursday, we started birding at the Slavin Ranch south of Spokane, where
we found WESTERN BLUEBIRD, PYGMY NUTHATCH, and HORNED LARK, TREE SWALLOWS
and numerous waterfowl. Further south on US 195 we stopped to admire a
COOPER'S HAWK before turning into the town of Spangle where we located a
previously-reported SAY'S PHOEBE. We spent most of a beautiful, quiet
afternoon at Turnbull NWR, where our most interesting find was a BEWICK'S
WREN. Penny already described in a separate posting our find of three
AMERICAN DIPPERS almost IN the turbulent Spokane River; which was the
highpoint of our day.
Friday was wet and cold, so we headed to Pend Oreille County for some car
birding. Snow covered most of the hillsides and lingered by the roads, and
most of the lakes we saw were still frozen; the temperature was 36 degrees.
West of SR 211 in a field flooded by snowmelt we found some 30 TUNDRA SWANS
and a lot of dabbling ducks, plus, in deeper spots, COMMON GOLDENEYE and
BUFFLEHEAD. To find open water we drove to Usk and Cusick and birded along
the Pend Oreille River. By about 1 p.m. we had some 40 species, including a
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, and a sharp male NORTHERN HARRIER. After a couple of
stops in northern Spokane County we headed for Sprague. There we birded the
treatment ponds, and then went out along the south shore of Sprague Lake.
The wind was strong in the wake of the rainstorm, and the lake was choppy,
but we made out a BALE EAGLE hunched down on Harper's Island, a few COMMON
MERGANSERs and a GREATER SCAUP before we quit for the day.
On Saturday calm weather had returned and we drove south from Moses Lake to
Lind Coulee and then down into the Columbia NWR. We birded the Morgan Lake
Road and walked down to Upper Goose Lake, where we watched SANDHILL CRANES
come into view over the hills to the south. Before long there were some 200
cranes in formations that shifted as the birds rode the thermals, bugling
to one-another. It was another great experience -- like the Dippers in
Spokane -- that made us glad we were there to see them. On the Crab Creek
Trail we found a BEWICK'S WREN and got a brief look at a LONG-EARED OWL we
unintentionally flushed from a trailside tree. Driving out of the refuge
near the junction with McManamon Rd we spotted a ROCK WREN on the cliffs
to the right, and then heard a CANYON WREN chime in. Then we spotted a
NORTHERN SHRIKE on the powerline right at McManamon Rd. We checked out the
cemetery in Othello and located a GREAT HORNED OWL. That was our last stop
before the Tav in Ellensburg, where we celebrated a good early spring trip
to Eastern Washington.
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