Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Saturday 2/5: Lewis, Cowlitz and Clark counties

American Kestrels - nearly everywhere I went on
Saturday afternoon!
My plan for Saturday afternoon was to get a good start on Lewis, Cowlitz and Clark counties.  I'll be swinging through all of them again in June, so it was okay if I didn't get 39 birds in any of them.  Finished with 30 plus in each, however.  I didn't see a lot of birds I was hoping to see, but had some nice surprises along the way.

Lewis County
On the North end of Centralia, I took Goodrich Road and looked for birds along the way.  A lot of interesting ones had been posted here during the last week, and I missed nearly all of them!  Still, between farms, flooded fields and feeders, there was a lot to see.  Goodrich Pond at the very end had a lot of dabbling ducks, as well as a flock of 100 or so Dunlin, and a dozen Trumpeter Swans on the far shore.  A kestrel perched on a far post, and Western Scrub-jays were calling from the farms on the other side of the road.  Gulls were on the far side of the pond as well, but I'm not great at ID'ing them at that distance.  Still picked out Mew and Ring-billed.

Peregrine Falcon - Wagner Road, Lewis County
 After I had been there a little bit, I was joined by a couple who were quite serious birders.  They have some similar, but more ambitious goals - namely to see 175 birds in every county in the state!  (Not in one year, mind you, but for their life lists in the counties) They are well on their way, but once you've seen 100... 150.. in a county, you're working to find rarer and rarer birds to add to the list.  One of them they had found around the corner from the pond was a Peregrine Falcon - a bit unusual for Lewis County.  I swung back around on my way out and found it, although I was unable to find the White-throated Sparrow they had seen at a feeder.  On the way out of town, I stopped at Fort Borst Park - which is part recreational, part historical, including this one-room schoolhouse.
Cowlitz County

The rest stop at the north end of Cowlitz - I believe it is always raining here...
My big stop heading through Cowlitz County was the Woodland area, where I was hoping to find Sandhill Cranes (nope).  While I didn't find them, I was treated to a pretty good raptor show, with American Kestrels, Red-tailed Hawks, a Northern Harrier and a Rough-legged Hawk.  The roughie is a new-ish bird for me.  I saw my first one in Mid-December last year outside of Fall City in King County (the 200th bird I found in the county last year - a fun pursuit that I wish I had documented better!).  This time, I enjoyed more of the field marks in binoculars before it flew farther away.  I got a very poor picture of it - not even worth tossing in here!  American Pipits were playing around in the mud in the fields below the road as well - first ones I've seen this year.

Barn - Woodland Bottoms - Cowlitz County

Eurasian Collared-doves
 I also found a pair of Eurasian Collared-doves as I went around the dike.  These are doves that just weren't here ten years ago.  There were some introduced in Florida, and since then, they've been spreading and spreading and spreading.  Are they the bird equivalent of English Ivy?  Haven't a clue... but I'm watchin' em!  Made my way out of Cowlitz County craneless... sigh.  May catch 'em later in Eastern Washington - we shall see.

Clark County
Ridgefield National Wildlife Refuge - Clark County
I've visited Ridgefield before, but there are so many good birds there, I had to make this my stop before finishing out my day (it was already 3 or so).  Took the auto route and found lots of dabblers along the way.  There is one stop where you can park the car and walk up to a blind to observe swans (usually Tundra), geese and ducks on the lake.  There have been reports of a Black Phoebe here all winter - missed that, but was amazed to see Barn and Tree Swallows already circling over one of the flooded fields.

Northern Shoveler - Ridgefield NWR

 This picture I can't really explain, although I'm sure someone knows what this is - the river running through here was completely red.  Couldn't really get over to check it out, but it had me puzzled, and I couldn't find anything about it on the Google (the fact that there is a Red River does not help...)

Finished the tour with the American Kestrel below.  Same one as the top.  It was on the post at the very end of the auto route, and people all stopped to get a good shot of it.  Didn't seem to scare it off.

Now I was hungry, and although I had thought to restrict myself to local restaurants... I felt myself pulled in by (in the words of T.S. Spivet - the fictitious 12 year old genius cartographer created by Reif Larsen) "The McAwesome Trident of Desire"

From The Selected Works of T.S. Spivet by Reif Larsen
As it got dark, and I made my way to the house of another college friend (how lucky I am to have refound him) I saw the high school reader board below, and had to get a shot.  Something similar to come in Wahkiakum county in the next post.  Gotta love small towns.

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