Thursday, August 3, 2006

Pushing past Hundo

Posted by Kirk Mona
I'm now past 100 birds thanks to a trip to Washinton state. I thought my first new bird out there was a Western Gull but I later changed my mind as they are nearly impossible to ID 100%. My brother and I went up to Mt. Rainier and predictably I finally saw a Steller's Jay. I had seen one there a couple of years ago. I saw it this time at a picnic table at the grove of the patriarchs. I also spotted a chickadee and quickly ignored it once I saw it was a chickadee. Stupid. It caught my attention because it sounded strange. It was probably a mountain chickadee and I was too quick to dismiss it and moved on. Oh well, lesson learned.

At Snow Lake, also at Rainier I saw an American Dipper in a rocky mountain waterfall/stream. Classic habitat for this bird. I feel luccky to have seen it!

Later on near The Bench, a rock formation on the trail to Snow Lake, I spotted a hermit thrush though I have already seen one this year.

My next bird was a Clark's Nutcracker in the parking lot of Paradise. It looked raly raggy but the bill is distinct. I think I also saw a grey jay but I cannot confirm that. I also cannot confirm a possible sighting of a blue grouse. It ran across my path but it would have been poor form to run through an alpine meadow to confirm the sighting. Darn!

Crossing to the Olympic Penninsula helped the bird count along as well. I thought I saw a group of rhinoceros auklets as I thought I could maybe make out those two white lines on the face. They were too far away to say for certain.

I soon had more birds to make up for that sighting. I saw a pigeon guillemot and a caspian tern at Dungeness Spit. I also saw a loon there and was very frustrated that I could not tell if it was a common or pacific loon. The head looked black, not grey so I'd think common but there were no visible white neck markings. Very weird.

Moving on to First Beach in La Push I spotted a double crested cormorant and a hearty number of brown pelicans.

I also added a belted kingfisher to my list and was surprised that I didn't have one on there already. I thought I had seen one. Oh well. I also incidentally saw one a few days after returning to Minnesota as I sped past Lake Cornelia in Edina.

The coolest place on the trip for birds would have to be Cape Flattery. It was the most northwest point in the contiguous united states. I spotted a pelagic cormorant (you could see the white patches on the flanks) as well as my first ever puffin. I saw the tufted puffin and it was in breeding plumage which was a real treat.

Upon returning home I quickly spotted bird number 101. I took a group of kids on a hike and there sitting on a tree branch singing away was an Eastern Wood Peewee. Execellent.

I'm heading up north this weekend so hopefully my list will grow even more!

I'll post more about the actual trip to WA when I get the photos scanned in.

~Kirk

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