[Tweeters] Almost Spring in CWA - 3/19/15

Barbara Deihl barbdeihl at comcast.net
Fri Mar 20 23:23:21 PDT 2015

It sure paid off to push through some cloudy, gray glumness threatening to keep me from sproinging to the east side to see how things had changed since my first check 11 days previous. When I spotted a low-lying and spreading cloud of something around Easton, and thought maybe the fires of summer had begun, I did think I'd maybe driven over to Kittitas for lunch and not much more, and would be turning around and retreating back to the wet side.

Then, I saw a group of Evening Grosbeaks fly off to the north of me, when I was near South Cle Elum, heading through the real Cle Elum on my way to SR10's "cliffs". After my first watch at the cliffs brought forth no birds, quite the opposite happened the second time. As I headed from MP94 to 95, I saw a Common Raven heading past me in the direction of the cliffs - a GOOD reason to retrace my steps, I thought. I parked in the front row, with binocs, scope and a couple of bird books and let the show begin ! First raptor to appear and fly around the cliff top and over me, turned out to be a light morph Rough-legged Hawk ! Then the courting pair of Red-tailed Hawks came in from Stage Left, followed by a pair of ravens in a similar state of amorousness. I next noticed dozens of swallows speeding around a couple areas of the cliffs, stopping briefly every so often, to inspect potential nest cubbies. It was difficult to ID them as I only got blinks of looks at these swirling dervishes, and their calls didn't fit any of the phoneticized descriptions in my books. So, since I have seen Cliff Swallows nesting in these cliffs several times in past years, I proclaim the ones I saw to be that species :-) Just as all the raptors seemed to have taken an intermission and I prepared to vamoose, back came the RLHA, 2 pairs of Redtails and the pair of ravens. ALL except the Roughleg, were pair bonding, and the ravens made several forays into the "crack nest" (i.e. the nest in the big crack) - maybe they'll be using it again this year... Almost forgot, I heard, but never saw, a marmot that was scuttling around on the mini-talus slopes.

On down the road I saw a few more buteos, that some birders in a small white car were watching (Blair, Jon & Deb ???), so I did a turn-around and also got to see that they were redtails - to see them, I pulled onto the shoulder near the "Private-No Trespassing" place with a few wind turbines behind it (see it in my photo, link below).)

I will just list the wildlife and other highlights I met with on the rest of my Hiwy 10 drive toward Ellensburg, where I got on Canyon Rd. to check more spots for raptors, nests and whatever other surprises showed up:
Black-billed Magpies, Northern Flicker, Steller's Jay, striped skunk (dead on side of road), ground squirrel (ran across the road in front of me), Red-winged Blackbirds, Dark Redtail on a pole, one redtail in a nest, a Great Horned Owl in a nest, a calling California Quail.

Then, from Canyon Rd, down and back... You'll get a better feel for the landscape views that made the day so, well, "super and springy", by looking at my photos. Here's my bird and other 'wild'life list from the last parts of my trip:
1 pair of Redtails, chasing around over a field just outside of Ellensburg, Rock Pigeon in a shoulder, eating gravel, more Rock Pigeons in some of the cliffs, my FOY Meadowlark singing, a couple pairs of ravens at the Umtanum Camping area, as well as American Robins, and one Prairie Falcon sitting on the top of a cliff (for a short time), kildeer (calling), Canyon Wren (crooning), Steller's Jays, Bald Eagle pair at MP 15.5, bighorn sheep (looking very skeletal and mangy), one Golden Eagle nest (the one that Ralph Meier had on recent video). Last interesting encounter on side of road - met a Brooks Potter (Mr. Potter ? :-)) who works for a non-profit group in Eastern WA. that does a variety of things for the blind. We had a nice chat, and then each continued on our own way. I headed right out onto Umptanum Rd. where I checked for inhabitants at the huge spruce tree nest - nothing visible. Then on up the road - whoa, wait a minute - is that an owl on the top of that utility pole ? I turned around at the "Flying _ _ _ _??" Ranch, went back to get a photo and, naturally, by the time I had the camera ready, the Great Horned had flown. My final shot of the day was of Mt. Rainier, wearing 2 lenticular caps.

Here's the link to my Flickr album of the trip - captions have some more details.


Always good times and good birds in Kittitas Co. !

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

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