A milestone has been reached! 100 species/county for WA state

I posted the following trip report to Tweeters a couple of days ago (see below). It is a milestone for me to reach 100 for each county in OR and WA. Only the great Pacific Northwest birders John Gatchet and Wayne Weber have reached this milestone to my knowledge. There may be other folks out there who have done it. [I recently boasted to Portland birder David Leal that I may be only birder to have Brambling for CA, OR, WA and BC. He calmly responded “That’s all pretty good, but I’ve got them too for these states/provinces, AND I also got several for AK. That shut me up rather quickly.]

My next goal is to complete CA. Since I’ve lived there for a while, I got a good head start and have only 25 or so to go. It will take several years …

This last weekend’s trip lead me from Whitman to Ferry County, via Lincoln and Stevens. Temperatures were warm and there were no crowds. I was concerned that it would be too early in the year and that some of the breeders would still be in transit. They were all there. In good numbers too. Boy, was it fun!

Whitman Co:
 
I started at Sheep Lake south of Sprague Saturday morning just after 5am. 2 friendly horses had kept me company all night. Wilson’s Phalarope, American Avocet, Yellow-headed Blackbird and a few Grasshopper Sparrows were all easy to get within 5min. A breeding-plumaged BLACK-BELLIED PLOVER was a surprise.
 
At Rock Lake I found 2 Caspian Terns, a breeding-plumaged Common Loon (right by the boat launch), a Western and a CLARK’S GREBE.
 
Lincoln Co:
 
I briefly looked for the Clay-colored Sparrow along Seven Mile Rd east of Davenport, but couldn’t find it. The habitat looks good for it, but it may have moved slightly. Grasshopper, Vesper and Brewer’s Sparrows were there though.
 
Stevens Co:
 
One of my favorite spots in the area is the Chamokane Creek wetland along Martha Boardman Rd, barely within Stevens Co coming from Reardan (SR 231). A curious horse with no master was roaming around the trail on the west side of the creek. Highlights here were a few Yellow-breasted Chats, many Veery and Hammond’s, Pacific-slope and Gray Flycatcher, but that doesn’t reflect how active the area was.
 
2 male Bobolinks were just east of Valley along Waitts Lake Rd.
 
I dipped on the Black Terns at the Colville STP, but got Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Wilson’s Phalarope and many Yellow-headed Blackbirds.
 
A che-becking LEAST FLYCATCHER was about 0.5mi east of Rice in the aspen-patch on the north side of Orin-Rice Rd.
 
Ferry Co: 
 
Entering Ferry Co from its east coast with the Gifford-Inchelium ferry, I lucked out on 2 pairs of Wood Ducks in the Inchelium STP. I then took Bridge Ck Rd towards the Sanpoil. A cute snowshoe hare didn’t care about me slowly driving by it along the high elevations of Bridge Ck Rd. When I reached the intersection with SR21, it was 6:30pm. Nevertheless, I found no less then 5 American Redstarts and Ruffed Grouse seemed to be drumming continuously. I noted my first Common Nighthawk of the season at around 7:30pm. What a great place!
 
Early Sunday morning, I worked the Sanpoil and found a singing Northern Waterthrush at MP 150.5. 
 
I then raced up Sherman Pass. Birding was active, but I didn’t find anything unusual up there.
 
A Eurasian Collared Dove was on the wire along Klondike Rd. At Mudd Lake, Yellow-headed Blackbirds, Cinnamon Teal, a female Barrow’s Goldeneye and finally a couple of singing Marsh Wrens.
 
Along the Sanpoil again later in the day, I discovered several White-throated Swifts up the cliff face at MP153. Red-eyed Vireos were singing everywhere. What a treasure the Sanpoil is!!!
 
Finally, just before boarding the Keller ferry, I watched 7 snoozing Western Grebes near where the Sanpoil Arm spills out into the Columbia (still Ferry Co though). A few Gray Flycatchers were chaloop’ing in the area of the Swawilla Basin Rd turn-off.
 
Yesterday, just after entering Ferry Co, I finally reached 100 species in every WA county. I completed this feat for OR a few years ago and will now be able to focus on CA where I’m close to 2/3 done. Some folks never stop …
 
Stefan Schlick
Hillsboro, OR

 

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An update to “Where are we here?” – Yes, it’s Barney Reservoir!

I’ve often wondered how to access that little speck of blue in the extreme SW corner of Washington Co. It is Barney Reservoir, for those who have never wondered …

A couple of year’s ago I tried my luck from the Cherry Grove (Patton Valley) side. Lee Falls Rd and Roaring Creek Rd either dead-end or just don’t go anywhere useful. Summit Rd does, but you soon get to a timber company gate and it’s unclear how to proceed. In summary, the Cherry Grove side is a no go.

So, on Sunday March 3, we had a family outing to see if we could access via Yamhill Co. And yes, we succeeded. From the Cherry Grove area, we took Mt. Richmond Rd to Pike, OR. Pike can also easily be accessed via Pike Rd coming from the town of Yamhill. Once in Pike, take Turner Ck Rd north out of Pike. This road is initially paved, but turns into gravel in a couple of miles.

After several miles on Turner Creek Rd, you get to an intersection with a wooded pond to your right. Take that right turn (N Fork Trask River Rd and follow it to the SE corner of the lake). Actually, this was much easier than I thought.  Staying on this road will get you to the wetland in the pictures I took as well as a small boat launch. Staying on this road hugging the lake wherever you can will eventually end up at the dam at the NW corner of the lake. The west side of this dam is extensive and the habitat looks interesting for a vagrant Rock Wren.

There were not many birds near the reservoir, but then, it’s winter. Common Mergansers were the only waterfowl on the lake. We were fortunate in that there was no snow anywhere.

From the dam, we proceeded on N Fork Trask River Rd  (we briefly took Williams Rd to attempt to reach Stimson Mainline or the Saddle Mountain area, but we were blocked by a gate) which funneled us back down to the – ahhhm- North Fork of the Trask River. This canyon is quite impressive and we found American Dipper at a couple of spots. The North Fork of the Trask River will get you pretty much straight to Tillamook, so this might be quite a detour depending on what you had in mind.

I’m sure Barney Reservoir would be quite interesting in fall. Who knows what shows up there after a fall storm. It’s uncharted territory, really. After mid May, the higher elevations around Barney Reservoir could be rewarding as well.