[Tweeters] Sometimes everything really is black & white, mostly

Kevin Lucas vikingcove at gmail.com
Wed Apr 7 19:12:21 PDT 2021

I returned to the Sunnyside State Wildlife Recreation Area today on my
continuing quest to see Tricolored Blackbirds reported there recently and
the migrating shorebirds. On the walk in I was passed in the opposite
direction by a tight flock of four Blue-winged Teal -- drakes & hens. (I
presume the hens weren't Cinnamon Teal.) Once at the rice paddies south of
Giffin Lake, I tried hard to look at all the blackbirds to find an odd one,
but was hugely distracted. On my visit last Friday I'd stood in one spot in
awe as I counted 145 Black-necked Stilts. Many more were in adjacent
paddies and hidden behind cattail clumps. Today I counted 264. It was truly
amazing. I saw the same number of Dunlin as before, forty-two, with again a
Least Sandpiper and a Western Sandpiper. Three Greater Yellowlegs, many
Killdeer, and a vocalizing Long-billed Dowitcher rounded out today's sure
bird shorebird sights. I'd seen the dowitcher before, but today was the
first time I heard its call distinctly while I watched it. I was able to
see and photograph its alternate plumage greater coverts' tips - simple
concave dark, not the convex > concave S of Short-billed. Soras also joined
today's chorus.

A couple of Benton County Mosquito Control employees turned out to be crowd
control. Loads of birds flushed, but most of the shorebirds stuck around.

Later I went over to the "Mabton boat launch" flooded fields to see if some
of the stilts or the Blue-winged Teal had gone there, but only saw 10
stilts. A couple of Ring-billed Gulls dropped in then left, as Ma Great
Horned Owl once again watched from her nest above. There's a metal & wood
waterfowl hunting blind that gives a nice vantage, but it's approach is
quite exposed. Bring your own chair.

Please, please -- fill out the day use ticket & carry your stub with you
until you're done for the day, then drop your stub in the box slot. It's
required. For all users. There's a tick box for bird watching. If the
managers see how much it's being used for bird watching, perhaps more
accommodations will be made for us, not just for hunters. I saw a birder
there today who didn't fill out a ticket. That seems a wasted opportunity,
and a chance for ill will toward the bird watching community if he's caught.

I again dipped on Tricolored Blackbirds, but had an excellent day.

Good Birding,


Kevin Lucas
Yakima County, Washington

p.s. These areas are west of Sunnyside Mabton Road, and immediately north
of the Yakima River.

Rice paddies:

Mabton boat launch area:

*Qui tacet consentire videtur*
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