We made a quick trip over to Buckley, WA on 6/21 and back on 6/22. We
returned crossing the Cascades at Chinook Pass near Mt. Rainier and then
from Yakima to Othello via Vernita Bridge over the Columbia R. along the
Hanford Reach. We had limited time but made a few quick stops along the way
noting birds of interest. There was steady rain west of the Cascades and an
impressive wind storm w/ attendant dark clouds across the Columbia Basin.
The tail winds were such that I think I got record gas mileage!
Buckley, WA - enjoyed watching the local (pugetensis) sub-species of
WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW nesting near my sister-in-law's house and feeding in
the yard. They have an interesting song, recognizable as a WHITE-CROWNED but
quite different from the "gambelii" sub-species that migrate through and
winter here the interior. Also present were SPOTTED TOWHEES including
juveniles and nesting CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES. I would have done some
more birding around here except for the steady rain all morning.
Upon leaving, we drove east on 410 across Chinook Pass and north of Mt.
Rainier which was completely invisible in the clouds. Not far east of
Chinook Pass we entered the rain shadow and it was dry most of the way home.
We stopped at Cliffdell along the Naches R. for some lunch at Whistlin Jack
Lodge and did a bit of birding around the lodge finding the following:
Pacific-slope ("Western") Flycatcher - sounding very much like the WEFL in
Further along the Naches R. in the dryer canyon country I had 2 LEWIS'S
WOODPECKERS fly across the road.
Heading east from Yakima over Rt. 24 we drove through all the Hops Farms and
orchards to Vernita Bridge at the Columbia River's Hanford Reach (and west
entrance of the Hanford DOE Site). We stopped at the rest area here and did
a bit of birding enjoying the gusty winds and ominous sky backdropped by dry
sagebrush hills. Birds here were:
Cliff Swallow - huge swarm over the river, probably nesting around the
Western Kingbird - at least several pairs nesting in the trees here, very
noisy and obvious
The rest of the way home was uneventful with few birds seen (mostly
Red-tailed Hawks etc.) although we felt like we were being chased by the
unsettled weather all the way back to Moscow.