[Tweeters] C. Elum Evening Grosbeak Bonanza, Plus... 5/7/14

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Fri May 9 01:08:23 PDT 2014

Compared to last week's visit to CWA, this was either more birdy, or I was ! Instead of starting off with a Rock Pigeon, my first bird of the day was a Bald Eagle in flight over Lake Union, followed soon by a Red-tailed Hawk on a light standard on Mercer Is. and a bit farther along I-90 I had 2 TUVU looking for roadkill. Speaking of roadkill, I saw several during the trip - on I-90 there was an immature hawk of some kind, a Belted Kingfisher, and likely a few others that had already become one with the pavement. The saddest was the pond turtle I came upon, freshly crushed, as I was walking up the road at the Cle Elum Ponds - upon returning in the opposite direction, a crow was already working on his membership to the "Clean Plate (Road) Club".

Also in the Cle Elum area, all over the place, as Tweet Megan Lyden had told me, were scads of Evening Grosbeaks. I put my windows down and was immediately greeted with the constant clamor of, I'd say, hundreds of them, flying between Ponderosa pine clusters that fill parts of the town. I had chosen to try to find them on Second St. at the little picnic park where friend Ron and I had enjoyed experiencing a similar thrill a few years back. I remembered suffering "grosbeak neck" and slight whiplash, trying to locate the callers in the very tops of the pines, and then attempting to follow them as they speedily zipped from tree to tree. Luckily the flashes of yellow and white mixed in with the black, stood out in the dark pine boughs. I hung out there for a half hour, soaking in the wonder of it all. They were still at it when I took off for the south side of this park, where Ron and I had found a Northern Rough-winged Swallow bringing nest material into an old garage through a broken window - unfortunately, the old oxidized light green paint on the structure had acquired a fresh coat of tan, the window was repaired and an RV camper assured that the picture would not be as sweet as when we had watched it back then, a faded gingham curtain partly covering the window at that time, and helping make the scene nicely old-fashioned. This time, no swallow to follow. However, next door a couple of Cassin's Finches were cavorting about the yard - I remembered that we had looked for (but did we see?) these finches when we saw the hordes of grosbeaks back then. I didn't even bother to go to the S. Cle Elum yard Megan mentioned, as I'd already had a full-enough experience with the grosbeaks in that park by then.

As for Yellow-Rumped Warblers, I didn't see hundreds of them, but they were the most common bird I picked out in the trees along the RR Ponds. Tree Swallows came in as a close second to the Yellow Rumps. The "Ponds Osprey" was on and off the nest - watched it hunt over the water. At one of the other platform sites nearer to Ellensburg, I did see an Osprey return to it's nest carrying a fish in the correct 'head-forward'

Also at the RR Ponds, White-crowned Warblers were singing about how pretty they are, Red-winged Blackbirds singing about spring, Ring-necked Ducks were ringing around the ponds along with one female Bufflehead and some Canada Geese, and Northern Rough-winged Swallows zipped in and out of the tubes in the concrete right at the corner where one turns onto the road (with the "one-lane only" traffic light) along the ponds.

Out of Cle Elum and on down the road, the Teanaway Bridge area yielded no dippers, but a tricky Steller's Jay almost faked me out with a call of a Red-tailed Hawk. As I approached MP 94.5, I saw 4 or 5 Turkey Vultures circling around "The Cliffs" - one emerged from the same cave I'd seen them use in past years. The Common Raven parents patrolled the cliffs but didn't take off after the vultures this time. I saw and heard the young ravens in their nest - I think there are 3 - got a few good photos of them and the nest, using my camera on its new tripod !!! Thanks, Bob G. for helping me with the set-up last week. It DOES help to stabilize the camera (and me) :-) When I finally decided to try to view and photograph some of the many swallows at the cliffs, they had already moved on (or in).

Umptanum Rd./ Wenas Rd. were my final viewing areas. Still no Red-tailed Hawk or any other raptor using the huge nest on the way up the road. Many of the following seen: Western Bluebird, Calif. Quail, Mourning Dove, American Robin, American Kestrel, Western Meadowlark,Yellow-rumped Warblers (in the riparian areas). In my photos, I found I'd accidentally photographed a W. Bluebird atop a distant attractive snag, and the very distant kestrel I photoed hovering, turned out to look so black, I'm no longer certain it was a kestrel, although it was the right size and I'd seen others in the area...

En route home at around 8:30, once again I had a surprise or 2 - Red-tailed Hawk on a utility pole off Taneum Crk. Rd. and my usual final sighting of a Great Horned Owl, only this one flew across 1-90 and into the woods, near Easton. It was HUGE !

Got a nice sunset shot at the Taneum Rd. pullover (but missed the redtail I'd pulled over to photo - it had flown right after I pulled off the road - they are SO skitish ! Oh, I suppose I should have turned off my music and my headlights as soon as I pulled over...

Another swell trip east of the Cascades. photos on Flickr: https://flic.kr/s/aHsjY15P33

Barb Deihl
North Matthews Beach NE - NE Seattle
barbdeihl at comcast.net

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