[Tweeters] WOS Kittitas sage trip
bellasoc at isomedia.com
Wed Mar 25 08:46:22 PDT 2015
Yesterday, a great group from WOS took a trip over the mountains to Kittitas
County - the goal was sage birds. We started out the day driving thru the
rain up to Snoqualmie Pass, where it turned to snow. We did have several
AMERICAN CROWs at the Pass. Down the east side it opened up and the rain
stopped (Kacheelus Reservoir is brim full) and by the time we got out to
Kittitas the wind was blowing strongly (it only got harder during the day).
Along the way we found BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE, GREAT BLUE HERON, DOUBLE-CRESTED
CORMORANT, MALLARD, COMMON MERGANSER, RED-TAILED HAWK. We made a quick rest
stop at a service station and saw HOUSE SPARROW, AMERICAN KESTREL (doing
aerobatics), a male NORTHERN HARRIER that was harassed by a COMMON RAVEN (we
probably saw 30 or so during the day). Just as we hit the eastern edge of
Kittitas three EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVEs flew in and perched for nice views on
the telephone wires. As we turned onto Caribou Road we saw a VESPER SPARROW
feeding along the edge of the road - gave us nice looks. About 30 CALIFORNIA
QUAIL flew across the road and did their best to hide in the trees and
shrubs up the hill. Looking west across the fields we barely saw the top of
a RED-TAILED HAWK head peeking above the rim of the nest in the old
Cottonwood tree. A SONG SPARROW gave us a quick pass.
Out on Vantage Highway, we saw EUROPEAN STARLING, more MALLARDs,
BLACK-BILLED MAGPIE. We stopped to scope the pond down Parke Creek Road
picking up WILSON'S SNIPE, RED-WINGED BLACKBIRD, MALLARD, one AMERICAN COOT,
RING-NECKED DUCK, GREATER and LESSER SCAUP, AMERICAN WIGEON and COMMON
GOLDENEYE. A flock of CANADA GEESE flew by overhead. A ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK
circled overhead. Heading east out Vantage Hiway again we saw several HORNED
At the entrance to the Wild Horse wind project the wind was blowing so hard
it was difficult to stand up, but by patiently working over the sage we
eventually saw SAGE THRASHER - good looks, SAY'S PHOBE - great looks,
briefly SAGEBRUSH SPARROW, quick look at MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, and the best
study all of us have had of a BREWER'S SPARROW. For at least five minutes it
took a bath in a puddle, flew up to a wire to shake off, down to the puddle,
up to the wire. A real treat.
At the lower Quilomene, we had a pair of MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDs come in - nice
looks and then they came closer and closer, finally ending up about 20 feet
away in great sunlight at just the right angle.
We made a lunch stop at the Ginkgo Petrified Forest State Park overlook,
huddling behind the Interpretive Center out of the wind. The lake behind
Wanapum Dam is full again, but from the overlook was virtually birdless with
the exception of one HORNED GREBE. A NORTHERN FLICKER flew away just as we
arrived. After lunch we went down to Recreation Road and saw ROCK WREN and
SAY'S PHOEBE. Up the road a bit one of our folks saw movement up the hill -
it turned out to be two CHUKAR. They uncharacteristically walked slowly
along the fence line in full view letting us see some really nice views.
Below Wanapum Dam we saw COMMON LOON, COMMON GOLDENEYE, a pair of BARROW'S
GOLDENEYE, and mostly GREATER SCAUP. A ways down the road at the pullout we
had a ROCK WREN up the side canyon and a perched GREAT HORNED OWL. Returning
back up Huntzinger Road above the dam we had a bunch of RUDDY DUCKs and a
RING-BILLED GULL making passes at an immature BALD EAGLE.
Next we shot back toward Ellensburg and out Berry Road to Sorenson Pond were
the SNOW GOOSE and ROSS'S GOOSE were on the edge of the pond (as one of the
members said "it isn't supposed to be this easy". Also present were CANADA
GOOSE, AMERICAN WIGEON, HOODED MERGANSER, MALLARD, GREEN-WINGED TEAL,
BUFFLEHEAD, RUDDY DUCK. We glanced overhead at what we thought would be the
RED-TAILED HAWK that had been in the area and discovered that it was an
OSPREY! First of the year for us.
As we drove west along I-90 we saw a RING-NECKED PHEASANT and TURKEY VULTURE
(we saw several during the day).
Along the way, during the day we added MOURNING DOVE, TREE SWALLOW,
VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE (one), AMERICAN ROBIN, SPOTTED
TOWHEE, WESTERN MEADOWLARK, HOUSE FINCH.
Back at the Issaquah P&R we had several RED CROSSBILLs fly over.
A really nice day, in spite of the strong winds, with 58 species and some
Brian H. Bell
mail to bell asoc a t iso media dot com
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