[Tweeters] Bird Pairs Everywhere in CWA - 4/27/15

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Wed Apr 29 16:37:52 PDT 2015

Mon. was such a fine day, over 'there' as well as 'here' (Puget Sound). Went first to the Cle Elum 'ponds' to check on the Osprey - she was on the nest. While slowly heading back down that road, i saw one Yellow-rumped Warbler (too quick a flash to see the chin color for variety ID). On the river were pairs of Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Mergansers, Barrow's Goldeneyes and Canada Geese.

Out to the "Dipper Bridge" over the Teanaway R. along SR10 - it was breezy, but still saw a lot of N. Rough-legged Swallows under the bridge and in the bushes alongside the river. A pair of Common Mergansers was heading upriver, fishing along the way. Heard a couple of woodpeckers and saw one enough to identify it as a Red-breasted Sapsucker - it flew in to a tree in the border next to the southwest path down to the river. Another mostly black & white woodpecker flew by - probably a Downy - I've seen them there before. And, oh yeah, a dipper was flying low upriver, near the bank.

At the MP 94-ish cliffs, only Cliff Swallows and a pair of Turkey Vultures were in view.

Down the rest of Hiwy 10, up to the Faust Rd. intersection, I kept my eyes on the road, and thus, saw a small, quick ground squirrel crossing it to the left, and a yellow-bellied marmot slowly lumbering into the brush right across from it. I hadn't seen any Black-tailed Magpies yet, but finally spotted one as I was driving into Ellensburg. At Starbucks in E-burg, I watched a House Sparrow attempt to extract a freshly 'grilled' yellowjacket from my car (grill) - but I scared the sparrow away as I moved toward the car - the wasp remained there.

Finally I started down Canyon Rd. out of Ellensburg. But I stopped soon after starting down it when I saw the Ringer Loop Rd. - it always had looked so inviting, but I'd never checked it out before. It was around 4-ish and when I saw a sign that said "Nature Trail" (& Public Fishing), I pulled right into the large parking lot - I was the only non-fishing party there - everyone else was out on the river in a boat, catching fish, or so I overheard later, when 2 guys came in to shore to pack up and leave, with their fish. A beautiful riparian scene, right across from some basalty cliffs and mounds covered with sagebrush, etc.

A Red-tailed Hawk circled high above the parking lot. I started down the trail and found I needed to watch the path, so I wouldn't step on any of the garter snakes that were out and about - lucky for them, they slithered faster than I walked :-) A mostly deciduous woods, with a few young pine trees getting started. Also a couple of open field areas, one containing an old rusted carcass of a truck cab (small), riddled with bullet-holes and grass growing up inside.

I heard a couple of BB Magpies and then saw them land on a tree branch and mate - he flew off pretty quickly and she stayed on the branch and preened. Next I saw a couple of what I thought were probably "just robins" cross over the path into the bushes - they turned out to be Varied Thrushes - I only got a good look at the female, but no photo - seemed strange to find them there, but I guess that's one kind of place they nest. A Western Wood Pewee called out a bit later down the trail.

The next pair I viewed, displaying and mating, vocalizing all the while, was a pair of American Kestrels, up in a cottonwood tree. Now THAT was special !

Heard a N. Flicker, briefly saw a Great Blue Heron fly upriver and did hear some American Robins. I'm sure there was and is a lot more there, but I wanted to do some more exploring farther down Canyon Rd. so I left the Ringer Loop Nature Trail and rejoined Canyon Rd., but just for a minute, as I caught sight of an Osprey nest platform at Helen McCabe State Pk. and Public Fishing spot. Found one Osprey out of the nest and in a tree next to the pole.

Umtanum Recreation Area was my next stop. Besides recognizing the call of a House Wren, I caught sight of 2 kestrels, one of which stayed near where I was at the campground, next to the river. He was hunting from the top of a spindly bare tree and stayed in place for about 10 minutes. Gave me enough time to get some pretty decent shots of him.

On to MP 10 to check the distant cliffs for Prairie Falcon nests - found one, but it didn't look to be in use, so I left for a couple more stops down the road. At MP4, I hit a bonanza - Golden Eagle being pestered by a redtail, with a Prairie Falcon flying into the mix briefly, just to stir things up, I'll bet ! The PRFA flew on down and over to the clifftops to the SE and disappeared - I was thinking that perhaps it could have been heading back to those cliffs at the Selah Rest Area... :-) - just a thought, no proof...

It was getting dark by that time, so I didn't tarry too long after the 3 raptor excitement, and headed over to N. Wenas Rd and drove it until it intersected with Umptanum and then slid back into Ellensburg and off to I-90 and home. However, I did have a special farewell on my Wenas/Umptanum drive - I pulled over to have a quick snack, and, lo, and behold, A Poorwill was calling and continued for 10 minutes, becoming more distant as the minutes went by. Such a special ending it was...

When I got back to Seattle, I briefly stopped in at Magnuson Pk to see what the Barn Owlets were up to - they were up to hissing very loudly, but not out of the box yet. Stopped again last night and found the same.

That's all she wrote... :-)

Photos from this outing can be viewed at this Flickr link: https://flic.kr/s/aHskaEHrXe

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

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