Saturday, May 23, 2009

Time well spent at Lower Crab Creek May 20/2009

Yellow Breasted Chat 2

I left Ephrata, (I love staying at the Ephrata Motor Inn, very cost efficient, Andy and his wife and daughter are very nice to deal with, he wants some pictures, and was excited about the Bluebird, so maybe I will get one printed for him).....ANYWAY
I left Ephrata after spending the previous day out at Moses Coulee, which I shall write about after this, I am left handed so I guess that is why I do things backwards!!!!

I wanted to hit some spots around the Potholes area, and did head down Dodson Road and worked a bit on Frenchman's Hill (got my Swainson's Hawk photo there) but did not find much else to photograph, that was in the lighting I wanted, and ended up taking the road to Columbia Wildlife Refuge, which is a huge area. Next time I recommend seeing if they have a map, as I surely needed it by the days end.
My first stop was a small lake, whose name I cannot recall. A beautiful Bullock's Oriole was flying around landing between the top of sagebrush, and a large boulder, great lighting, perfect time to shoot. But a group of 30 or more kids were there, with about 5 adults. The kids were fine, but the adults were talking loudly about my tripod, and started approaching me, scaring off my bird. I tried another spot and got a somewhat nice pic of the Oriole, but it was a lot more work than the previous spot would have been.
I continued on and found Lower Crab Creek, and hit the riparian trail, and did part of the Marsh unit as well.
Trying to photograph birds in the wind with glaring sun, is really a pain in the butt, I must say. I had a number of birds with great views, but the wind kept blowing just as I was taking the shot. My Lazuli Bunting photos were not recognizable at all. Just a blur of vivid colors.
I had not played a recording for ANY bird photographs up until the time I heard the Yellow Breasted Chats, on either side of me. They were in nice numbers halfway through the riparian habitat, but I could not get them to stay up long enough for a shot. I kept walking, just for the love of the hike, and enjoyed listening and trying to make sure I knew what I was hearing before getting the bird in view. I HEARD Yellow Warblers but never saw them, but as I said it was very windy at this time of day.
Saw lots of Wilson's Warblers however, they were everywhere. As I finally got to the Marsh Unit, realizing I still had a long ways to go, I went on, and realized I did not have enough water to make it through the entire unit. I did hear Grasshopper Sparrow, and Canyon Wren (had Rock Wren several times at this point, but of course none in view) As I saw the left side of the Marsh Unit was all dried up, I decided to turn around, not even trying to find and photograph the Grasshopper Sparrow.
Overhead a couple of Turkey Vultures were circling. They saw me and foresaw my bleak future, lost in this vast wilderness, with no water, no hope (well it was only a mile back to the car, but it felt like 20!)
I did make it to the car, but not before running into a Yellow Breasted Chat who was calling from a short tree. They were calling back and forth, and I guess that this is what drew this one particular bird out. No recording, just a neighborhood squabble. So it was well worth the treat. Not the best photo, by any means, but I am ordering a hoodman, that covers my monitor on my camera, so I can see and focus better with no reflection to disctract me.
Later I found the Para Ponds, got a couple of Avocet and Stilt shots, as well as Yellow Headed Blackbirds. But a very dangerous road in the late afternoon. I did find one of the two coffee stands in Othello, and tried to return to Dodson Road.
I attempted to go through the Columbia Refuge to return and got very very lost, had a great time driving on roads my husband shall never know about, and did lots of hiking as well, just because I could!
I finally found a camp of young people, who told me how to get out of the Refuge, and I finally made it out, and hit Dodson Road again, and made my way to Cle Elum to spend the night.
I had a great day, and thoroughly enjoyed myself, getting lost when no one is there to complain about it is a blast!

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