Saturday, December 31, 2011

Best of the year - County Pictures

The year is done!  Here were the highlights of the year!

Adams County:
2 visits (April, November) 51 species, including one WAfer (Washington lifer...), an American Avocet seen at 50 miles an hour.  Want to get back to Washtucna.

Drumheller Channels

Irrigation Wheel - Adams County

Asotin County:
One visit (June), 65 species, including one lifer (Lark Sparrow), and an awesome view of a Northern Goshawk in front of my car.  Want to go back with the family to do the hike on Puffer Butte again.  Will go back in the winter sometime to see some waterfowl on the Snake.
Grande Ronde River


Benton County:
3 visits (April, June, November), 51 species, including one lifer - a Sage Sparrow on Rattlesnake Mountain.  Want to get back in migration, or summer to look for Forster's Terns, which I still haven't seen.

Pasture - Yakima Valley

Ground Squirrels - Rattlesnake Mountain

Chelan County:
3 visits (February, June, October), 53 species, including a Spotted Owl.  Haven't really been here in the summer, and will be back to look for White-headed Woodpecker for sure.  I also want to get to Stehekin some time!

Lake Chelan

Columbia River

Clallam County:
2 visits (August, November), 94 species, including my first Tufted Puffin and Golden Eagle, and some awesome views of Sooty Grouse on Hurricane Ridge at the WOS Conference.  I never got out to the very tip of the county this year (Neah Bay), so that's a must for a return trip.

Admiralty Light and Mount Baker

Magenta Paintbrush and other late summer blooms - Hurricane Ridge

Clark County:
2 visits (February, May), 58 species, 57 of them seen at Ridgefield, and a Great Horned Owl at my friend's house.  Vancouver Lake and Stiegerwald are places I've never visited - they'll have to be part of a future visit.

Ridgefield NWR

Ridgefield... I still want to know what the pink stuff is...

Columbia County:
2 visits (June, November), 51 species.  This was by far the hardest county for me!  Tucannon Road was where I found the most species, and I'm not sure that any of those birds were found with the sun fully up in the sky!  I'd love to explore farther up into the Blue Mountains.

Tucannon River

Beautiful farmland

Cowlitz County:
2 visits (February, May), 84 species, including 9 species of shorebirds!  I'm not sure that Cowlitz County is exactly a shorebird hot spot, but there were a lot of them at Woodland Bottoms in May.  Have to get to the other side of I-5 and explore up towards Mt. St. Helens some time.

Scarecrow - Woodland Bottoms

Farm - Woodland Bottoms

Douglas County:
2 visits (February, October), 73 species, including an awful lot of ducks at Lake Pateros, and great looks at Gray Partridge.  One of my favorite counties - it's so beautiful up on the plateau, and we love going to the Cider Works in Orondo for the cider, donuts and apples.  I've never visited the canyons in the southeast of the county in summer, and Sage-Grouse is also a bird I've never seen... but I'll be back for the donuts for sure.
Desolation along Highway 2


Ferry County:
One visit (June), with 51 species, including two lifers: Dusky Grouse and Veery.  Even without going down the Sanpoil Valley very far, or hitting any different habitat (like the Swawilla Basin along the Columbia), I found a lot of species in just one morning of exploring in Ferry County.  What an amazing place!

White Mountain Burn

Maybe the worst road I had to drive all year...

Franklin County:
3 visits (April, June, November), 50 species, with the last one coming after dark in November (Gray Partridge at Palouse Falls).  One life bird here was Black-crowned Night-Heron at the Animal Shelter Ponds in Pasco.  Want to visit Juniper Dunes and Lake Kahlotus, and want to find the Burrowing Owls that I missed on every visit through there!

Columbia River from Pasco

Palouse Falls, and Jupiter with the moon

Garfield County:
One visit (June), with 50 species, including one life bird (Williamson's Sapsucker), and perhaps my worst bit of decision making this year - trying to clear a few logs that appeared to have fallen across the forest road going into the Blues... logs which I eventually realized were placed there to keep me from driving farther up the road!  Um... I'd like to return when the road is clear. :)
Yup... that road is pretty closed

Lupines and hills and fields

Grant County:
3 visits (March, May, November), with 63 species, including a Blackpoll Warbler in Ephrata, and my first Long-billed Curlew.  Grant County is so huge and amazing, that I can hardly make plans to visit any of it.  I figure that, in making plans to visit other counties, I'll inevitably pass by some awesome part of Grant!  Didn't get to Grand Coulee Dam, or Wilson Creek this year, so that would be a start.

Saddle Mountains in clouds

Dry Falls

Gray's Harbor County:
2 visits (April, November), with no life birds!  In a different year, I may have gone after Whimbrels, Gnatcatchers, Rock Sandpipers, Emperor Geese, King Eiders, Red Knots, but this year it was one lovely trip with the family, and one trip to the Elma area, and 71 species for the year. 


Maybe my favorite picture from the year

Sunset and gull

Island County:
3 trips (August, September, November), with 68 species, including my first Ruddy Turnstone, and my only Barred Owls of the year at Deception Pass State Park.  I'll be back yearly to the park for our class trips, and need to explore Camano quite a bit more!

Tasted as good as they looked

Deception Pass

Jefferson County:
4 trips (February, August, September, November) with 54 species, including my first Black-bellied Plover.  It seemed like Jefferson County was always at the end of a trip... I'd like to get back and do it right, including a trip for Ancient Murrelets in November (I've seen them, but not this year).  Definitely want to get into the Olympics in this county, and we almost made a trip out to La Push, where I probably would have found my first Sooty Shearwaters.

Sailboat and Point Wilson Light from ferry

Fingers of God before leaving the county

King County:
Home base!  157 species for the year, including 4 new county birds this year (Tundra Swan, Nashville Warbler, Semipalmated Plover and Baird's Sandpiper, which was a lifer).  211 life birds here... 39 more and I'm at 250.  It's fun to look through the list and see what birds could possibly wander in, but I think the 'easy' ones are done at this point!

Carnation farmland

Coulon Beach Park - Renton

Kitsap County:
4 trips (February, July, August, November) with 52 species.  I didn't make any big plans for Kitsap this year, just picking up birds as I passed through (except for a nice trip to Fort Flagler in February).  I want to try for Mountain Quail out here in the years to come, and maybe do some owling on Bainbridge.

Point no Point

Olympics from Bainbridge

Kittitas County:
5 trips (March, April, May, October, November), with 56 species, including my first Loggerhead Shrike.  I also made Kittitas a 'passing through' county, although last year, I made a trip in May where I found nearly a dozen new life birds on one of my first trips east of the mountains for birding.  I want to spend more time near the Columbia, and I hope the Black-throated Sparrow comes back next year - that's one I missed!

Barn east of Ellensburg

Sage and sky near the Columbia

Klickitat County:
Two visits, both in July, with 80 species for the year, including my first Ash-throated Flycatcher and Lesser Goldfinch, as well as my first (and I pray last) Ammophilic Thread-waisted Wasp.  Had a huckleberry cone in Trout Lake, and that would be reason enough to go back.  I want to get there on a field trip to the observatory, but it's sooo far from Seattle...

Mount Adams reflected in Trout Lake

Stonehenge replica - Maryhill

Lewis County:
3 visits (February, April, and May) with 77 species, including my first opportunity to hear Sora calling.  Until then, they had been seen-only!   Lewis County visits were mainly to Goodrich Pond and Galvin Road near Chehalis, but I also got out to Rainbow Falls State Park, where I got my first Dipper of the year.  Lots of fun watching it play in the water.  Have to go back here for Hermit Warblers!

Rainbow Falls

Willapa Hills

Lincoln County:
One trip (May) with 57 species including my first Wilson's Phalaropes and Black Terns.  Black Terns were probably my favorite new bird of the year, and I found them in the Swanson Lakes area, which turned out to be a great stop this time of year for sage birds.  I am going back to Hawk Creek, where I had intended to camp on that trip!

Old Schoolhouse - Swanson Lakes

Flowers - Swanson Lakes

Mason County:
2 trips (February and July) with 55 species, including my first Sora, which was out in the open at the Theler Wetlands.  I love this place because it's relatively close to home and a nice walk with the kids (that was the July trip).  I will also be looking here in the future for Mountain Quail!

Salt Marsh - Theler wetlands

Trail at Theler Wetlands

Okanogan County:
Two trips (June and October), with 56 species and one falcon (sp?), as I have given up on calling the falcon that I saw!  Also my first Bobolinks on Aeneas Valley Road.  I hope to see a Merlin AND a Peregrine Falcon in Okanogan County in the future!  Didn't get up there for Ross' Gull, Spruce Grouse, and missed a whole mess of woodpeckers.  Looking forward to getting back to this county!  The highlights were definitely the Flammulated Owls and Nighthawks at Lyman Lake.

Dawn near Lyman Lake

Purple hills near Cameron Lake Road

Pacific County:
One visit in April, with 56 species, including a nice variety of shorebirds and waterfowl.  Highlight here was an oyster burger, and the many shorebirds at Graveyard Spit.  I really want to get back to hit the mouth of the Columbia in this county, and to explore the shore along Cape Disappointment.

Highway 6 farmland

Willapa Bay fishing boat

Pend Oreille County:
One visit in June, 100 species!  This was a fun challenge, and the highlight would have to be the 100th species, a Vesper Sparrow I found on Kirkpatrick Road on the south end of the county.  I want to head back with my ibird app so that I can identify those stinking warblers a little better, and definitely want to get up to the top of Salmo Pass. 

The northeastest spot I got to this year

South end of Pend Oreille County - Spokane is that way

Pierce County:
My eBird entries say that I went birding eleven different times in Pierce County, with 89 species for the year, including my first Tufted Duck, Parasitic Jaeger and Common Tern.  It's not too far to most of the Pierce County birding spots for me, but the northeastern and southwestern parts of the county are ones I have visited pretty rarely, so those are places I'll be exploring more in the future.

Mount Rainier from Burroughs

Tacoma Narrows bridge... from the drivers seat... oops

San Juan County:
One visit, 56 species, including so many seabirds from Cattle Point, and my first really good looks at Short-eared Owls hunting by day.  This was a fun trip, and my second during winter months - haven't been during spring or summer, but Santa did bring me a book on birding in the San Juans, so future trips will be in order.

Jakle's Lagoon

Friday Harbor Ferry

Skagit County:
I passed through this county six times this year, with trips in January, February, June, August and September.  88 species for the year, with lots of raptors, and waterfowl, but very few saltwater birds.  It was nice to bird along highway 20 a bit to pick up Sooty Grouse, Eastern Kingbird and Lazuli Bunting.  The life list is at 99 there, so I decided to make 100 a Gyrfalcon.  Hope one cooperates.

One of the most beautiful sunsets this year - Samish Flats

Mount Baker

Skamania County:
Three visits! July 1st at the end of a day, mid-July with the family, then on a big day in December with four other birders.  84 species for the year, including Canyon Wren on Haystack Rock, and a Tufted Duck!  I want to head back and explore up some forest roads for Hermit Warblers on a future trip.

Shadow of Beacon Rock on the Columbia

Falls Creek Falls

Snohomish County:
Seven trips up to Snohomish this year!  I found 86 species for the year, including a couple owls (Snowy and Short-eared).  I spent early years here, from age 1-8, so I want a chance to explore some of the areas where I lived when I was young.  Would love some time to do some hiking up near Glacier Peak, and poke around looking for Ptarmigan!

Farmland near Monroe

Sculpture - Darrington

Spokane County:
One visit this year, with 55 species seen while I was out for the state track meet.  I've never birded out there at any time besides that weekend!  A winter trip is in order, and the WOS conference will be in Spokane this year as well.

Turnbull NWR

Yellow-bellied Marmot - west of Spokane

Stevens County:
One visit in June - 62 species with almost all of them coming at Little Pend Oreille NWR.  This was one of three places this year where I had really good directions to a White-headed Woodpecker nest, and found none.  I'll be back. :)  Also need to return some time to Loon Lake.  I had a mug from there that I really liked, and I lost it...

Little Pend Oreille NWR

Valley, WA

Thurston County:
Seven trips to Thurston County throughout the year, with 98 species for the year, including my favorite morning chorus of the year:  Northern Saw-whet Owls, Virginia Rails and Marsh Wrens all doing their thing on Vantine Road.  Harris' Sparrow, Great Egret, and Eurasian Wigeon were nice birds too!  It's another close county that I'll be back to a lot.  Will probably be looking for Hermit Warblers here too, and maybe White-tailed Kites, if there are any still coming around.

Nisqually Delta

Twin Barns - Nisqually NWR

Wahkiakum County:
One trip to this little county, but I made a good day of it, with 52 species for the day, including some Wild Turkeys.  I loved driving up into the hills where there were few if any birds, and listening to the fog drift by.  I met a birder from the county on the WOS trip, and want to get down to bird with him.  White-tailed Kite is the target in the future here!

So much lichen on this trip!


Walla Walla County:
One visit in June, and I zipped through in November, with 71 species for the year, including a Green-tailed Towhee!  The trip here was done with Merrilynn Denny, and was quite memorable.  I also got out to some sage, and saw some Loggerhead Shrikes.  Looking forward to heading down in the winter sometime for waterfowl on the Columbia.

Allium on Biscuit Ridge

Dry places in the SW corner of the county

Whatcom County:
3 trips (January, June and August), with 99 species for the year, including my first American Redstart.  Great to reconnect with friends up in Whatcom, to spend some time in Blaine, and on Baker.  I'll be back for my 100th bird there, and hopefully make it a Whimbrel, which would be a lifer.   :)

Snowfields near Mount Baker

Diablo Lake

Whitman County:
One good visit in May, and I peeked across the Columbia in November.  56 species for the year, including my first Rock Wren and Gray Catbirds.  I had planned to camp at Kamiak Butte, but ended up on Steptoe Butte in my car instead.  I will get back and look at the south end of the county more - try to get that camping trip in!

The Palouse!

One of the better barn shots of the year

Yakima County:
Two trips (April and June), for 65 species, including my first White-breasted Nuthatch, Swainson's Hawk, and American Avocet.  I grew up in Yakima, and just got a birding guide to Yakima.  Can't start to tell of all the places I want to visit here.  Mount Adams, Chinook Pass, Bethel Ridge, Darland Mountain, Grandview, Priest Lake, Training Center... this is the county that is calling me the strongest right now.
Sunrise near White Swan

Yakima Canyon
And now, folks, at 1:30 in the afternoon, New Years Eve, I am done with the blogging!  Hope you visit some of these spots too, and thanks for checking in!