Dickcissel, Long-eared Owls, a bear, a rattler and many Grasshopper Sparrows

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Dickcissel

I ran over to the Yakima area for the Dickcissel last Friday evening. Camping over at Black Canyon, there were a Yellow-breasted Chat, a couple of booming Common Nighthawk and calling Common Poorwill, but the highlight was a family of Long-eared Owls including 2 incessantly calling fledglings.

The Dickcissel at Hardy Canyon performed marvelously in the new light early next morning.

Along Lateral C in Toppenish I failed to Bobolinks and Grasshopper Sparrows, but it was getting hot.

I took a brief nap near Satus Pass and saw a very large Black Bear shortly after waking up. Nice!

Here my report from Gilliam Co in OR that I posted to Tweeters:

I spent 2 half days in Gilliam Co this weekend. Yesterday afternoon was a struggle in the heat, today I got out of there just as it was heating up.

Yesterday at Willow Creek WA early afternoon there were 5 White Pelicans, 4 Long-billed Curlews (presumably the birds often seen in the agg fields along the access road), 18 Caspian Terns, a pair of Blue-winged Teal, 2 Eastern Kingbirds and a Black-crowned Night-heron. An elk was a surprise. A Yellow-breasted Chat was singing mid-afternoon at the south access through the Heppner Hwy (somewhere around 45.744211, -120.021445); another Eastern Kingbird was also present. I saw a second Black-crowned Night-heron another 1/2mi further south, the bird was following Willow Creek.

A not-too-skittish pair of Gray Partridge was along Hwy 19 between MP21 and 22.

At the Condon STP 4 pairs of Wilson’s Phalaropes and a Redhead were in attendance. Lots of shovelers and mallards too.

Trail Fork Rd southeast of Condon is one of my favorite roads in Gilliam Co. Within the first 3mi, there were a Yellow-breasted Chat, a Chukar and 4 White-throated Swifts. When the road turns southeast, it will start climbing out of the canyon and end up at its high point in lush meadows at around 3800ft. I camped at a large pullout up there with an otherworldly view of 4 high peaks to my west and had my own private pair of Grasshopper Sparrows, several Vesper Sparrows and a Long-billed Curlew. I found 2 more Grasshoppers just a little further up the road early this morning.

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From 6-8am I birded the wooded portion of Lost Valley Rd. The highlight there was probably an unexpected Hammond’s Flycatcher mixed in with the Duskies. A Mountain Quail was calling. Lots of the more common woodland birds, but nothing rare. On the way back to Condon at the high point of Lost Valley Rd, I found 2 more Grasshopper Sparrows (for an amazing 6 total for the trip!). A Western Rattlesnake was sunning itself on the road and afforded nice looks.

I briefly stopped at Cottonwood Canyon SP at 10am, but it was already around 90F, and dead. 3 White-throated Swifts were good, within 1/4mi into the Pinnacles Trail (Sherman side). On the Gilliam side at Burres SP was yet another Yellow-breasted Chat.

Now in Sherman Co, I stopped at the Wasco sewage ponds and had a drake Blue-winged Teal.
At the marina in The Dalles, I relocated the large sea lion that I saw there several weeks ago. Maybe it is somebody’s pet by now. You would need pretty deep pockets to feed that guy …

Stefan Schlick, Hillsboro, OR

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