About 120 birders, the largest contingent ever to attend a WOS annual meeting, trooped into Walla Walla on the first weekend in June with great expectations. Barely a week earlier, local birder Jim Nestler discovered the state’s first Yellow-crowned Night-Heron along one of the many creeks that bisect the city. Then just a day before the meeting started, Keith and Jan Wiggers from Burlington pulled into a campground on the west side of the city and promptly discovered a Lark Bunting nearby.
Much to everyone’s regret, particularly Walla Walla birders who are justifiably proud of their county’s bird life, neither bird could be relocated for the visiting WOS crowd.
Nonetheless, the two-day event was a great success, highlighted by over 130 species seen in a countryside unusually green and lush after rainfall more than twice the seasonal average.
Some of the species highlights included Ferruginous Hawks, turkeys, numerous owlroosts (mostly Great Horned), a large variety of warblers (including redstarts and chats), Grasshopper Sparrows, Black-chinned, Rufous and Calliope Hummingbirds, various vireos and a number ofstrange-sounding flycatchers. Clearly heading the list had to be the Green-tailed Towhees of Biscuit Ridge.
Who can forget the battalion of birders lurching down a steep hillside in the morning fog and Larry McCloskey’s brilliant smile as the towhees finally appeared to the (quietly) cheering crowd. Our lasting impression, however, is one of hospitality and great company. Local birders set a high standard organizing comfortable and inexpensive accommodations at Whitman College and van tours crisscrossing the southeast corner ofour state.
Special thanks to Priscilla Dauble, Mike and MerryLynn Denny, Larry Goodhew, Ken Knittle, Shirley Muse, Bob Woodley, and Larry, of course. Westsiders Harold Christenson and Bill Tweit also did duty as drivers.