[Tweeters] From Vultures to Variety - CWA - 4/19/15

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Tue Apr 21 11:56:43 PDT 2015

My views-and-birds route Sunday afternoon took in Highway 10 and Umptanum Rd, both in Kittitas Co. Along the way, I pulled off on as many reasonably-wide shoulders and pullouts as I could, often waiting for something moving to catch my attention and interest, but also marveling at the geology and the botany that is so captivating in that county. It was a slow trip, but, after a slow birding start, the cliffy areas started producing some action. Turkey Vultures were first to show (but not "first-in-show"), starting at SR10's MP94 - first one, then 2, then on down the road, around MP96 or 97, there were 3, 4 and for the grand vulture finale, 7, criss-crossing the landscape, looking for things dead, but also putting on nice intermittent aerial shows. Occasionally I would follow one descending to the ground and find that it would either disappear in the "Vulture Cave" (at MP 94) or disappear behind a plant - I would wait to detect movement again, but usually missed the take-off back up into the thermals. After viewing my photos of what I thought were only vultures, I found that I was also seeing and catching photos of a Common Raven or two, a Red-tailed Hawk and the occasional blip on the screen, which was a Cliff or Violet-green or Tree Swallow - LOTS of Cliff Swallows busy around many of the exposed cliff faces, ready to start the mud nests, I presume. Saw one marmot moving along on the ground.

Once on the outskirts of Ellensburg, I pursued my own form of dead meat - stopped at the Red Rose Diner on University Ave. (see photos) and, seeing I had a big choice to make, I opted for an indoor menu item and forewent the Cannabis options available in another spot nextdoor to the diner ! Good choice :-)

Timing was just right for going out on Umptanum Rd. after my salad at Red Rose. It was about 6 p.m. and the lighting was great and the wildlife were out and active - it was dinnertime for the animals! Here's my list from there: Western Meadowlarks (singing), bluebirds (mostly Mountain BB's) flying and perching on wires, an occasional sparrow of some sort on a bush, the ground or, as in photo #004, on a wire (ID help on that one would be appreciated). Continuing on, there was my "Best of Show", the Great Horned Owl-plus at her nest. Next surprise was a hovering American Kestrel, followed by several others zipping around over the landscape - always great to see those little falcons :-) What else? There were some Mule Deer out in the road, maybe licking the dirt for salt? Also, Mourning Doves, Starlings, and quite a few American Robins and, on my way back out toward Ellensburg, a couple of Red-tailed Hawks on posts. I did see a couple of flying Osprey, but none on the nest platforms I passed that day. And strangely, I only saw one Magpie - it must be nesting time and they have quieted down ? Or it was once again the proverbial "timing is everything"... or was that "location is everything" ? Perhaps both :-)

Well, my timing was great for some things on Sun., but not for everything. One thing I was lucky about - tempering my speed allowed me to escape any flashing lights coming up from behind me. Did see some cars pulled over, however. And, in sympathy with to Tweet who was concerned about us out-of-towners trying to aid the commerce in small towns having trickster speed traps, by purchasing goods or services to show the townspeople we birders appreciate them, I returned (for a refund) one item I had purchased a week ago - a token 'protest' over the speed-trap trickery ? Well, maybe it was just because the item didn't fit :-)

No cluster of police cars at the Starbucks that night, BTW...

My tales told by photos, can be viewed at these 2 sites on Flickr:

https://flic.kr/s/aHskaqtw4x "From Vultures to Red Rose Diner"

https://flic.kr/s/aHsk9JtYEp "Wildlife Along Umptanum Rd."

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

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