[Tweeters] Gray Crowned Rosy-finches, Yakima River Canyon, Kittitas County

Walter Szeliga walter.szeliga at gmail.com
Sat Nov 18 13:17:09 PST 2017

Hi Tweeters,
The weather has been pleasant on the east side of the Cascades recently, and I thought I’d take a chance and hike up Baldy in the Yakima River Canyon (The TP Jim Trail, here http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/baldy-mountain-1 <http://www.wta.org/go-hiking/hikes/baldy-mountain-1>). Although the birding started out slow, and the effort is great (nearly 2000’ vertical in 2.5 miles) the summit did not disappoint. As I approached the summit, I could see a large flock of birds taking grit and restlessly flying about. When I reached the summit, they were gone; no where to be seen. I decided to inch over the precipitous north side of Baldy for a few feet and then sit and eat a snack. Within about 10 minutes, a very large flock arrived, assembling itself from multiple directions. The birds filled the two or so bare bushes and the drying grass on the north face and grazed for about 5 minutes. I would estimate that the flock contained at least 150 birds. I attempted to audio record this noisy bunch, as they feed and then took off eastwards towards I-82 (when I got home I found that the wind noise and road noise below proved to be too much). I jogged quickly back to the summit to see if I could relocate the flock, but they were gone.

There are lots of Rosy-finches out there right now. If the weather deteriorates this coming week, the birds could be down on the highway itself, either near Lmuma Creek or Big Pines. This has happened in previous years.

Walter Szeliga
Ellensburg, WA

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