[Tweeters] Wind, Wild & Wonderful - CWA - 4/2/15

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Sat Apr 4 13:25:09 PDT 2015

After checking out the high school totem pole and finding naught, I then captured the last loaf of cinnamon/raisin bread at the Cle Elum Bakery, and hurried on out SR10 toward Ellensberg, in an attempt to capture views and photos of what always draws me down that road. I experienced similar wind-induced bird and human adjustments noted by the folks on the WOS sage field trip last week - an unabundance of birds, particularly the little guys whom I did note scurrying from bush to bush, and having to brace myself against something (my car worked well, especially from the inside !). No lazily-soaring or casually perching or dozing raptors at MP 94, and no birds nesting in the crack, so on down the road I meandered, until I reached MP97 (actually one or two tenths of a mile before that). First saw 2-4 raptors 'hanging' on the wind drafts up near the top of the ridge on the north side of the road - sometimes they would seem to find a perfect updraft when they were near the closest wind turbine - they would stay put for up to one minute at a time, afterward zooming either downhill or westward along the ridge, and sometimes disappearing to the other side of the ridge. A few minutes after disappearing, they would reappear and play with each other or take a break in the branches of the one clump of trees up on the slope. Every time one or 2 flew by and I was looking at it from the side or underneath, I would note a white area of feathers near the rump - initially I thought "Northern Harrier", but very quickly saw that the behaviors were not harrierlike.

I tried desperately to see (with help from my binocs) field marks of these buteos, but each was a bit different from the others, no obvious red tails or belly bands were located, so, after racing through photos from "Hawks From Every Angle", and in my mind, crossing off Red-tailed, Rough-legged and Swainson's, I thought maybe the main pair I was seeing, were Ferruginous - a few others have recently made similar pronouncements (and ultimately had to change their minds in light of an expert or 2). A couple of the birds that would play and 'hang' in that spot, did seem like they could be redtails, so I decided to think along the lines of immature redtails until I could consult my photos and perhaps a Tweet or 2. As image stabilization is always a problem for me, and since it was made even worse with the wind, I didn't hold out much hope for decent 'captures'. I did, however get a photo of one of these hawks, perching on a tree branch, facing into the wind, with a few orangeish tailfeathers glaring out, SOooo, at least that one was a redtail :-) I wondered if redtails would fraternize with redtails (i.e. could there have been both species there?) I know, I know, wishful thinking ... ! By the way, "Hawks From Every Angle" goes to great length to explain other hawk white feathers that can fool one into thinking harrier :-)

I was at that spot for about an hour in mid-afternoon and also watched 2 American Kestrels divebomb a couple of the buteos. 2 Turkey Vultures flew over, 2 Black-billed Magpies called incessantly from their perches in a bush, Calif. Quail "Chi CA goed" from somewhere, a Common Raven cruised by, palomino horses munched on grass, a half dozen deer (whitetailed ?) ambled up and down the ridge, rested under the cover of some bushes and occasionally slowly masticated some greenery. A soothing scene, interrupted by brief punctuations of wind blasts, but I never regretted having made the trip...

From the ample pullout on the other side of the road from the 'wild' action, were stunning views of the Yakima River as it snaked through the rock cliffs, with verdant rolling slopes and fields beyond. And there were all sorts of clouds, moving right along at different speeds, some layers moving faster than others, with the occasional sheet of rain visible for a minute or two. But basically it was sunny and nicely cool, with wind (weather report had predicted 10-15 mph - I had no way to tell what it was where I was...) an interesting accompaniment.

After the train passed by the section of track near 'my' spot, I got myself in gear and headed toward Ellensburg to head again for Umptanum Rd.

Part Two (Evening) of the thrilling and fulfilling parts of this trip, was quite different from the "Afternoon" session and from last week's visit - no ghostly distant flapping owl, but instead a nest with at least one large owl with 'horns'. I got some decent photos of the inhabitant(s), but once I saw Mike Hamilton's shots of the same nest and owl, well, I have to admit I lost a little of my 'pride' over my captures...:-) But I've gotten over my lens envy and again realize and celebrate my own differences and will keep moving down that road... It was extremely nice to be up on Umptanum Rd again and just watch for new beautiful scenes to unfold in front of me, in the dwindling wind. And discovery certainly was satisfying...

At one point, as the sun and clouds were doing their things, I saw a huge bird flying high toward my spot on the road - I accidentally caught it as it drifted over - the photo is true Deihl-lousy, BUT, again using that same hawk book, I found that the "gizz" of it, plus the few details that came out once I edited the shot on my computer, say Golden Eagle to me - at least "eagle" :-) Let me know what you think when you look at my highly cropped pic of this fly-over.

Mourning Doves, Western Meadowlarks and one identifiable Western Bluebird (a nice photo, I must say, taken in the golden-sun just before sunset) complete my list of finds for the trip. And, yes, the Magnuson Park "New Box" Barn Owl hissed forth as I drove through enroute to my own barn.

2 Albums of photos on Flickr:

Afternoon - https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9UDc7Z

Evening - https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9UJ86T

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