Trip Report: Burch Mountain
By Wilson Cady
I have to thank all of the people who participated at this year’s conference. Those who organized it did a splendid job on everything and all of the people I had a chance to bird or visit with were a joy. Wenatchee has some splendid scenery, wildflowers and birding opportunities.
As the Monday morning Burch Mountain field trip gathered in the Red Lion parking lot, Russ Koppendrayer stopped by and told us how he started to drive up Burch Mountain on Sunday and turned around after the third bend in the road where there was a taillight laying in the road. Despite my best efforts to scare off the participants by describing how rutted the road was when I scouted it on June 3rd and how I thought that it had deteriorated since then with the recent rains there were six people who were still willing to give it a go. Even walking the group up the start of the road to show them the ruts failed to deter this hearty bunch. So we headed up hill, two small four-wheel drive pickups and a Subaru Outback. This road has few rocks and looks like it could be very treacherous when wet but dry it was as solid as concrete and gives good traction. But in the first three miles there are ruts in about five different sections of the road where you are driving on ridges between gullies that are up to two feet deep. The taillight near the bottom of the mountain was only the first of the many car parts that are along the roadside.
We stopped several times to listen for birds in a stiff cold wind and to let our heart rates drop while listening for birds. Few species were detected until we reached the shelter of the conifer forest at the end of the road where we could not only hear and see birds we were in a lovely wildflower area where Susan Ballinger identified the various species for us. I was delighted to see the locally endemic white delphinium blooming amid tall forget-me-nots. Wandering around the top of the mountain produced a nice sampling of common species such as Hermit Thrush, Rock Wren, and Townsend’s Solitaire.
We had stunning views of the Columbia River and Wenatchee far below us and from Eagle Rock we enjoyed the eastern view of the Cascade Mountains. While eating lunch two four-wheel drive vehicles drove up to the end of the road, a large maintenance vehicle for the State Patrol communications tower on the mountain top that had slipped into the gullies on the road up and had high-centered on one of the ridges and was unable to move until winched off by the State Patrol Officer that had been dispatched to rescue it.
The drive down seemed much easier (perhaps that was just relief at seeing the valley floor come closer) and we once again looked and listened for our target species the Black-throated Sparrow but finding only Vesper, Lark and Brewer’s Sparrows. We ended up with a list of 52 species which has to be the shortest list of any conference field trips.
I want to thank all of the participants of this fun trip, Kathy Andrich, Susan Ballinger, Lee Barnes, David and Jo Nunallee, Guy McWethy, and Shep Thorp. Special kudos to Lee and David for be willing to take their vehicles to the end of the earth and back between breakfast and dinner. Burch Mountain – It’s not just birding, it’s an adventure.
Trip Report: Entiat River Valley, Lake Chelan, and Wenatchee Confluence
By Tim O’Brien
My tired self and I are back from an extended weekend in Wenatchee for the 22nd Annual WOS Conference. I led 3 different trips which included the Entiat River valley, Lake Chelan area, and the Wenatchee Confluence / Horan Natural Area. A big thank you to everyone involved in organizing the conference this year! It was great! I personally would like to thank Dan Stephens for all the pre-trip info on where to find the target birds and Brad Waggoner for his team attitude on sharing birds found since we led the same trips on different days. Here’s a quick list of highlights from the 3 days:
Best personal bird – Dusky Grouse
First heard then seen way up the North Fork Mud Creek Road on Saturday. The “booming” was low and not very loud and thanks to the good eyes of one of the trip participants (thanks Dave!) the grouse was found just off the road about half-way up a small fir tree that was only about 50 feet away. With scopes trained on the bird, each time it vocalized we could see the air sac on the neck and it was very red. The “booming” was very quiet compared to that of Sooty Grouse which you can hear from a great distance.
Both Saturday and Sunday turned up several woodpeckers including fantastic views of White-headed, Lewis’s, Red-naped Sapsucker, Hairy, Northern Flicker, and one Pileated.
Mountain Bluebirds – two different spots both in the higher elevations above Mud Creek. One nesting pair seen on Friday when I was scouting.
Peregrine Falcons – Seen on the cliffs of the Columbia River both Saturday and Sunday morning. On Sunday, we added a second for the day on another cliff wall along Navaree Coulee Road.
Black Swifts – two seen today over the Horan Natural area (good spotting Jeff!) I kept it quiet, but they were a life bird for me! I had studied them in the field guides beforehand and was so glad to see them on the last day. I could go on and on – 81 species on Saturday, 95 on Sunday, and probably 40 this morning on a half day trip. Thanks to all the participants and I hope to see everyone next year!
Trip Report: Swakane Canyon
By Matt Bartels
This Saturday & Sunday I led WOS conference trips to Swakane Canyon –Overall, both trips were great fun, with piles of bright birds. (Also nice to have sunny weather back in force.)
Swakane Canyon, ~ 5 miles north of Wenatchee on Alt-97, is a great eastern WA canyon w/ a riparian corridor running along its length. The road is bumpy, but between last weekend and this one, the road was graded and now would be passable by most cars [maybe not a Prius]. The loop route for our trip from the Red Lion at Wenatchee up to the ridgeline at Swakane, and out via Nahahum canyon to Cashmere and back to Wenatchee was less than 40 miles in length — great for making constant short stops to explore and see what is around.
Lazuli Bunting, Yellow-breasted Chat, Bullocks Oriole, Warbling Vireos & Cedar Waxwing were present at almost every stop – at least audibly. At the entrance to Swakane, we started each trip w/ Gray Catbird, Canyon & Rock Wren, Say’s Phoebe and our first looks at some of the above birds. White-throated Swifts & Violet-green Swallows worked the cliff-top here, presumably nesting.
On Sunday, Brad Waggoner, en route to a different WOS trip, led us to a pair of Peregrine Falcons along the rocky cliffs just north of the Swakane entrance [visible from the dam viewing pull-out ].
We heard and eventually saw a few Chukar from the cliff walls ~ 4 miles up the road from the Swakane entrance. Woodpeckers: In addition to Northern Flickers, both days we were happy to get looks at Lewis’s Woodpeckers mid-way up Swakane. In addition, we saw White-headed Woodpeckers both days — Sunday we eventually located a nest hole that was being regularly visited by a male & female WHWO, presumably actively feeding young.
Warblers: Besides constant Chats, we also saw & heard: Yellow Warbler, Nashville Warbler [pretty common],MacGillivray’s Warbler, & Yellow-rumped Warbler [Audubon’s].
Flycatchers: Western Wood-Pewees were common throughout the day, and Eastern & Western Kingbirds were present mostly at the low ends of the canyon. We had Pacific-slope Flycatcher in the riparian areas near the beaver ponds, and Willow Flycatchers at the 2nd & 3rd beaver ponds. Dusky Flycatcher mostly up high along the brushy slopes, and Hammond’s Flycatcher in the conifers at the crest. At one point Saturday, we were happy to have back to back Hammond’s & Dusky views & songs to be able to do some good comparisons.
At the upper ponds, on Saturday we had duelling Swainson’s Thrush&Veery [Sunday only the Veery cooperated]. Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskins, Evening Grosbeaks & a couple Red Crossbills (Saturday only) joined American Goldfinch & House Finch on the finch list. Calliope Hummingbirds were pretty common, and we had a few Cassin’s Vireo singing. One Warbling Vireo nest w/ a singing WAVI on it was a fun find both days.
Coming down Nahahum Canyon, we had Western Bluebirds at a nest box Saturday. Sunday, we missed the bluebirds, but instead were rewarded w/ a soaring Northern Goshawk [being harrassed by a Kestrel], a Turkey Vulture , and heard-only Wild Turkeys.
Thanks WOS for organizing the conference
Trip Report: Going Home West
By Brian Bell
We wrapped up one of the best WOS conferences with the Going Home West #1 trip (eventually over Stevens Pass). Monday started out cooler than previous days with some early morning clouds. As we left Wenatchee we saw VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW, ROCK PIGEON, AMERICAN CROW, AMERICAN ROBIN, and HOUSE SPARROW.
As we drove west on US 2 toward Leavenworth we picked up BARN SWALLOW and OSPREY. Our first stop was at the Cashmere Sewage Ponds. Nice birdy spot with OSPREY on a nest, MALLARD, WOOD DUCK, NORTHERN SHOVELER with young, CANADA GOOSE, KILLDEER, SPOTTED SANDPIPER, AMERICAN COOT, and BARN, CLIFF, TREE, VIOLET-GREEN, NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED, and BANK SWALLOWs, and RED-WINGED and BREWER’S BLACKIRDs.
Across the road we saw WESTERN KINGBIRD at the nest, BULLOCK’S ORIOLE, VAUX’S SWIFT, EUROPEAN STARLING. On the way out we picked up EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE, MOURNING DOVE, GRAY CATBIRD, EASTERN KINGBIRD, YELLOW WARBLER, SONG SPARROW, BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK, BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD and AMERICAN GOLDFINCH. We made a quick restroom stop at the Safeway and heard a singing WILSON’S WARBLER.
Our next stop was the Leavenworth Parks along the Wenatchee River We had just walked into the park when we heard singing VEERY. A short play on the I-Pod and the bird popped up. We also had singing SWAINSON’S THRUSH and GRAY CATBIRD and WINTER WREN. A WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH flew in, and we saw AMERICAN ROBIN, SONG SPARROW, heard MACGILLIVRAY’S and NASHVILLE WARBLERs, and had singing CASSIN’S and RED-EYED VIREOs (we saw the Red-eyed). A RED-NAPEDSAPSUCKER flew in. In an offshoot of the river there were MALLARDs, WOOD DUCKs, and some odd domestic ducks. A PACIFIC-SLOPE FLYCATCHER was overhead.
We drove the East Leavenworth Rd. and picked up WESTERN BLUEBIRD. We walked a loop at the Fish Hatchery and added WESTERN KINGBIRD, LAZULI BUNTING, YELLOW WARBLER, YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, SONG SPARROW, CASSIN’S FINCH, WARBLING VIREO, DOWNY WOODPECKER, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, CEDAR WAXWING, WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, and DARK-EYED JUNCO. An AMERICAN DIPPER was perched on the fence under the bridge over the bypass canal. Overhead we had TURKEY VULTURE (a group of at least 19), and RED-TAILED HAWK. We had a very high accipiter that was a COOPER’S HAWK.
We made three stops along US 2 along the Wenatchee River, picking up more of the same species we had already seen. In the interests of time we then headed for higher country.
We turned off on FR6700 (Smithbrook Rd.) heading for higher elevations. We were stopped at about 1 mile in by snow that was at least 1-2 feet deep over the road. We turned around and did some birding on the way down. We saw VARIED THRUSH, AMERICAN ROBIN, BLACK SWIFT, HAIRY WOODPECKER, OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER sang up the hillside, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, STELLER’S JAY, GOLDEN-CROWNED KINGLET, HERMIT THRUSH. Other birds we saw or heard included: COMMON MERGANSER, CALIFORNIA QUAIL, PILEATED WOODPECKER, COMMON RAVEN, BLACK-CAPPED CHICKADEE, WESTERN TANAGER, WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE (seemingly everywhere – consistent with the weekend), PURPLE FINCH, HOUSE FINCH, PINE SISKIN, EVENING GROSBEAK.
It was a good, leisurely trip home and we saw and heard 84 species. We did have one miss – as we came out from under the trees at the Fish Hatchery another couple asked if we had seen the Golden Eagles over the ridge. Shoot, we just missed them.
As others have said, it was a great conference and too many accolades can’t be given to DanStephens, Scott Downes and Cindy McCormick for the preparations. Many thanks also to the folks who helped take care of the registration table.
Brian H. Bell