|Dry Falls - Grant County|
|Wanapum Dam on the Columbia River|
I checked a tree where they had been seen recently and found my first owl pellet! Owls eat their prey whole - bones, hair and all - then hack up the mother of all hair balls, the owl pellet. I checked the tree for owls - no dice. I kept walking the campground, and saw several first-of-year (FOY) birds, including a Cassin's Vireo and Bullock's Oriole. Finally, I found a tree with something in it. It was not good news, and I'm still waiting for someone to help me make sense of the picture I took, but I think I found a dead owl (adult? fledgeling?) in a tree branch. An owlet had fallen out of the tree during a storm last week, before it could fly; It was taken to rehabilitation. I don't know if this was adult or fledgeling, or what would have caused this, but it was very sad to see (and not the last dead owl I would see on the trip, even more sadly.). I saw no other owls, which may speak more to my inexperience with finding day roosting owls than anything else.
|Common Loon pair|
Moving to the boat launch, I found the Columbia was fairly empty, although there was this beautiful pair of Common Loons, and another FOY bird - Bank Swallows! Most of the other swallows show up in a lot of different places, but for the most part, Bank Swallows are just found at their colonies along river banks. I saw one here, and one two days later in Whitman County, so it was a good trip for those swallows. Also, without really "doing" Kittitas County, I'd passed 39 birds there just by making stops while passing through.
|Oasis Park - Ephrata|
I ate the lunch I'd packed and crossed the Columbia into Grant County. I was aiming for Highway 2, which meant driving through Ephrata. The day before I left, a report had come in that a Blackpoll Warbler had been seen at Oasis Park, right on my route, so I made a stop at this nice little migrant trap. This was a good stop, with lots of warblers, including a MacGillvray's which I got to see quite well. I was looking around for a warbler with a black cap (oops... didn't know that this was a female I was looking for), and had time, so I walked the park picking over the birds.
One bird puzzled me - the wing bars and olive coloring, hint of an eye ring, and short dark bill had me thinking it was a Dusky Flycatcher... but it was not acting like a flycatcher! It was picking its way silently through the branches in the right area where the warbler had been sighted. Flycatchers will usually take a perch on a branch, making occasionally sallies out to snag insects, and returning to their perch. Dusky Flycatchers will also flick their tail in an up-down motion - something I never saw this bird do, despite several views of it... When I returned from my trip, I found a video had been posted of the Blackpoll. That was my bird! I'll have to ask next time I'm hunting down a rare bird if I'm looking for a male or female!
|Sundial - Soap Lake|
There is a winged human figure that points north, and an array of posts that are numbered IX, X, XI, XII, I, II, III. Here you can see the shadow cast - this was a little after three.
|A little after 3PM at Soap Lake|
|Cliffs at Dry Falls|
|This could say - WARNING! Lottery tickets!|
|Old Schoolhouse - Swanson Lakes|
|Black Tern... can you see it? :)|
Okay, so at this point, I was ready to hit Hawk Creek Campground, where I wanted to hear Poorwills at night, see a Dipper in the morning, and start finding more flycatchers and birds of the Ponderosa Pines. Sadly, the Miles-Creston Road was closed for repair, which would have added many many miles to my trip... and it was getting dark... so I spent the night in Davenport, at the Morgan Street Bed and Breakfast. During this decision, in the faint light of dusk, I passed a Great Horned Owl which flew from a telephone pole. Several more were heard from the B and B itself, where I slept verry comfortably after a long day of driving.