[Tweeters] Some Excellent Birding of Late

Eric Heisey magicman32 at rocketmail.com
Wed Aug 31 12:10:00 PDT 2022

Hi all,

Let me start by saying once again that Cassimer Bar Wildlife Area is an incredible place. You may have seen my post about the Brown Pelican on August 27th, but on the 28th I came upon a perhaps even less expected visitor: a Dusky Grouse! How many places in the world can one see a Brown Pelican and Dusky Grouse at the same location? The grouse was the first fall lowland record for Washington and was a bizarre sight to behold. It sure was ratty and I was a bit perplexed what to make of it at first, as any grouse is very unexpected in the russian olives and sparse willows at Cassimer Bar. Grouse sometimes descend to the Columbia in the deep of winter, as a February sighting of Dusky Grouse from Washburn Island reflects. All the same, I was shocked! I was struck by the large size and scaly under belly pattern in the field, but I thought Dusky was impossible in the lowlands, so I tentatively setted on Ruffed until I was done birding and able to look more closely at photos. But sure enough, I sent it to some friends and they agreed that it looked better for Dusky! Bonkers. Perhaps even more crazy than Brown Pelican to me! But I digress...

Anyhow, remember how I said Cassimer Bar is amazing? It was AWESOME on Sunday morning. The Pelican was gone when I got to the tip at sunrise, but the diversity of water birds and shorebirds was impressive for August. Baird's Sandpipers foraged on floating water plants in mid-river with Red-necked Phalarope while Common Loons in full breeding plumage circled and dove close to shore, uttering the occasional yodel. There were several species of neotropical migrants present in the russian olive thickets near the tip, with six species of warbler, Bullock's Oriole (getting late), and many Gray Catbirds. Something that fascinates me about Cassimer Bar is the great numbers of Eastern Kingbird that converge here. I counted 38 on this morning, down from 58 twelve days prior. I had also observed 37 in mid-August years ago. This species can flock in the hundreds on its wintering grounds in the Amazon so this alone is not unheard of, but in Washington it's pretty special. The state high count in eBird is 60 (from Sun Lakes SP), making me think that on mornings where all the stars align in mid to late August, the state's highest counts must indeed be at Cassimer.

Things quieted down a bit after 9am, but I managed to pick out an interesting chickadee from a flock I had pished in, a Black-capped x Mountain Chickadee hybrid! I had great looks and took many photos of this oddball, the first eBird record of this pairing in Okanogan county. I somehow managed to tally 88 species on the morning! I really think this might be my second favorite spot in the state to go birding, it is superb for diversity. Check it out people!! I am the ONLY person to submit a list from there since July 22nd. That is insane for what is indisputably the best birding location in Okanogan county in my mind. Email me if you have questions on the best way I have found to cover it.

eBird list:
https://ebird.org/checklist/S117715380 <https://ebird.org/checklist/S117715380>

I begrudgingly left eventually... I went next to Washburn Island. Not really worth it at 11am, there were few passerines, but I had to check as I've never been in August. Things were much better at the Lake Pateros overlook in Douglas county. I was greeted by Lewis's Woodpeckers chattering as I exited my car, and was treated to two striking male White-winged Scoters in full alternate plumage as I scanned the river. They are surprisingly rare in Douglas, with only two eBird records for the county, both from here. There were two male WWSC first noted in June at Cassimer Bar, perhaps these were the same individuals who summered on the "lake". After a productive stationary count, I carried on to Bridgeport Bar Wildlife Area. This place has almost too much habitat and is too dense! It seems like it would be awesome earlier in the morning when songbirds are more active, but becomes difficult to cover in the afternoon. Nothing special here.

I headed south toward Grant county after this. I made several brief, inconsequential stops on the parched Waterville Plateau on the way. My first real stop was the south end of Lake Lenore. Not only is it gorgeous, but there always seems to be a healthy abundance of birds here. Duck diversity was solid, a Peregrine Falcon harassed Chukar on the cliff across the lake, and a family of Loggerhead Shrikes escorted me out. I wanted to bomb to Lind Coulee and Perch Point at dusk in hopes of something spicy. Alas, nothing crazy awaited me. A Semipalmated Plover at Lind and two Semipalmated Sandpipers at Perch were nice but nothing cosmic. Still, nothing like a beautiful sunset to usher out a day with 128 species!

The 29th was less thrilling, as I got skunked for much of the day. I started at Potholes SP, which had ample numbers of migrants but nothing special. Lind Coulee and Perch point had 7 and 8 Semipalmated Sandpipers each respectively, I believe my single highest counts in Washington! They also had a combined 39 Baird's Sandpipers, which are really streaming through right now. Several hundred Western Sandpipers and many Leasts on the morning as well, though nothing crazy was mixed in. The rest of the day away from Potholes was sloooow. Getty's Cove had one nice flock and Red-necked Phalarope on the Columbia, there were a few migrants at Sentinel Bluffs, but that's about all. Nothing to write home about!

I am now home in Yakima for a couple days while I get my affairs in order before I head to Peru for two Months in late September! A little work for now, but I'll be back out birding soon enough...


Eric Heisey
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