I spent the last few days at various spots in the Columbia Basin mostly concentrating on migrant passerines. Though I didn't find anything earth-shattering, I had a handful of interesting birds worth noting. I'll start with today and work back as perhaps there might be a birder out there interested in any of these "code 4" or "code 5" species.
Sept 17: Kittitas County - I spent mid-day looking through Wanapum SP and finishing by over-looking the Columbia River at the Ginkgo over-look. A juv./1st winter FRANKLIN'S GULL was working the waters just below. Also on the water were three 1st winter Glaucous-winged Gulls. I guess they are no longer big deals along the Columbia River on the eastside. No Sabine's Gulls for me my entire time, though I was in places where they were reported. There were two COMMON TERNS flying about just south of the Vantage bridge. Wanapum SP was nice given the lack of people and no wind. I had up to 10 Townsend's Solitaires, one Fox Sparrow, and one Golden-crowned Sparrow.
Grant County - Sentinel Bluff riparian area - The morning started off very blustery so things didn't look so promising for seeking out migrants, but the winds shut-off at about 9 and it was pretty darn active after that. Highlights included two RED-BREASTED SAPSUCKERS, three lingering GRAY CATBIRDS, and one PURPLE FINCH. It seemed as though I kind of had a "west-side" theme going on today.
Sept 18: Franklin County - After enjoying Washtucna in the morning (though a bit slow), I headed to Lyons Ferry and birded it for a few hours until early afternoon. The wind made things a bit tough here. The best bird was a continuing RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER found by Keith Brady the previous day. I stopped at Windust Park for a brief while, but the "birdiest" place for me over the three days was a late afternoon stop at Big Flats. A Merlin as I drove in made me realize that this was not going to be just a brief visit. I spent three hours in some very lovely habitat with good numbers of birds. A late YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT and two WHITE-THROATED SPARROWS were the most unusual birds.
Sept 17: Lincoln County - Jon Isacoff touched upon some of the highlights in a post to Inland NW. Thanks for showing me Mill Canyon and other spots, Jon. A late SEMIPALMATED SANDPIPER at Reardan Ponds, a CLAY-COLORED SPARROW at Davenport Cemetery, a WHITE-THROATED SPARROW at Mill Canyon and a BULL MOOSE at the base of Mill Canyon stick-out in my mind as highlights. I started my morning at Sprague Lake. It was fun and fairly active This is the second September that I have witnessed an incredible staging of Barn and Bank Swallows in the area. I now wish I would have attempted to estimate the number for the entire lake. I wouldn't be surprised if a count of 7000 + Barns and 4000 + Banks could be tallied if one concentrated on the swallow numbers instead of searching out and missing some darn Sabine's Gull.
It was an enjoyable three days of birding the east-side. I still was able to look at a decent number of empids, a few Cassin's Vireos in total and Warbling Vireos at most stops, and most "western" warblers, though no Nashville's.
Cheers and good birding, Brad Waggoner Bainbridge Island mailto:wagtail at sounddsl.com