Friday, June 29, 2012

Monday May 28, 2012 Eastern WA part 3

Walla Walla Washington, don't you love to say it? It is a nice town and it was a beautiful day. We headed over to the Fort Walla Walla Natural Area--kept up by the local Audubon club. It is not a big area but it is good enough size to have a number of trails running through it. There were old apple trees, a barn, lots of trees and water areas, just right for good birding. We did see quite a few birds including warblers and such but nothing new for the list. We did see a hummingbird that may have been a new species for us but they move too fast to get a proper ID. We really hoped to see an owl in the barn, but no luck. Still it is a nice little area and I'd go back.

We headed out of town on Hwy 12 and in between Waitsburg and Dayton there is the Lewis and Clark Trail State Park. We pulled in to follow the mile long loop trail. It was great weather, not too hot, not too cold and clear. The trail starts and ends at the bathrooms and wanders through the woods to a river and follows that for awhile and then back to the restroom. We finally saw a western tanager (#129) one of our very favorite birds because of it's beautiful coloring. The we spied our first cedar waxwings (#130) for the year, another of our favorites. After a bit we got a very nice view of a Townsend's warbler (#131) and a black-headed grosbeak (#132). (Note on the grosbeak: we had actually seen some of them at our house but I failed to add them to our list so here seems like as good a place as any to add them to the count.) We also saw a woodpecker, other warblers, black birds, quail and such. It was a nice stop and another terrific easy trail.

Next stop was Palouse Falls State Park on Hwy 261. Neither of us had ever been there before so we didn't really know what to expect. First thing we noticed was the amount of cars leaving the park. It was Memorial Day and all but this park is not close to anything. Hard to believe it gets so many people coming but sure enough once we got there we found many families enjoying their time here. It's not a very big park but the view of the falls is spectacular.

We saw a yellow-bellied marmot on the edge of the walls. It didn't seem to bother him that it was a sheer drop to the rivers floor. We did see peregrine falcons (#133) flying through the canyons, they say that they nest in the walls of the cliffs in this area. We also saw meadowlark, violet-green swallow and horned larks.

Moving onward we stopped at Bassatt Park in Washtucna. It's just a simple city park but it has the reputation for being a crazy birding spot. How could we pass it by? At first it didn't seem like too much activity but we saw mourning doves, western tanagers, bullock oriole and then a Wilson's warbler (#134) jumping around in a pine tree. Also flying about were Eurasian collared doves (#135) and band-tailed pigeons (#136). It was very worth stopping for.

It was getting late and the only hope we had of finding any accommodations in this very unpopulated part of the state is Othello. So we headed over there and found what seemed to be the only hotel, Best Western Othello Inn. The front desk gal gave me a good rate and upgraded us to a executive room--complete with recline--and we walked over to the pizza place next door and had a late dinner. It all worked out beautifully.

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