January 8, 2017
I celebrated the last day of 2016 by participating in the Columbia Hills Christmas Bird Count. There were four of us in Jane’s car, all focused on finding birds in and around Goldendale Washington on a brilliant-blue-sky but frigid day.
After counting all the birds surrounding the wastewater treatment plant ~ thousands (!!!),
…including a Northern Shrike who was very far away, we headed into residential Goldendale.
We traversed block after city block with a stop at Ekone Park. A pair of Red-tailed Hawks perched as sentries on tree tops at both sides of the entrance.
We hiked along the stream from the parking lot to the bridge and although there wasn’t a lot of activity, we found a Ruby-crowned Kinglet!
A Golden-crowned Sparrow was foraging on a lawn above the bridge.
A Scrub Jay flew overhead, taking his treasure to possibly eat in a warmer spot.
We found plenty of trees and shrubs full of the regular suspects, in this case House Sparrows with some finches tucked in between.
We found a group of mixed Cedar and Bohemian Waxwings (yay!).
Bohemians have a buffy body, white tips on their wing feathers and little or no white on their forehead.
We met up with a second carload of counters who had finished their section and wanted to see more Goldendale birds.
We spotted a few Red-tailed Hawks as we continued our drive through town and along the outskirts.
In one neighborhood we found three Wilson’s Snipes foraging in a tiny stream! How do I know they were Wilson’s, not Common? Because lucky me I had experts on my team!
In this one tiny area we also saw a dozen Robins, and a couple of Scrub Jays, Chickadees, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrows…..
……Spotted Towhees, House Finches and about a dozen Golden-crowned Sparrows.
Over two dozen California Quail ran or flew to the other side of the street while we watched all the action in, over and surrounding the stream.
Finished with our assigned section, we decided to head out Bickleton Hwy in search of anything interesting outside of town. Yes! A Rough-legged Hawk awaited us.
Isn’t he beautiful?! I believe this is my first sighting of a Rough-legged and I’ve fallen in love.
We followed him in flight over barns and farmhouses as we continued our drive.
Another raptor delighted us with his presence, a Northern Harrier.
A big surprise was a group of seven Gray Partridges. It’s uncommon to find them on agricultural land.
Our last sighting for the day was a group of Bald Eagles circling overhead on our way back to town.
I saw two adults and 2 or 3 juveniles (I knew I should have written this immediately as my recollection fades).
One juvenile soared closer…
…and landed in the top of a nearby Pine tree.
He then took off as another eagle flew close to his landing spot.
All in all a very good day spent with great company!