Thursday, April 9, 2015

March 2015 Birds And A Trip To Washington State For Greater Sage Grouse and Sagebrush Sparrows

This blog showcases some birds we found in March.  March was not a busy month for birds so I am including a rundown of a trip we made April 7-9 to central Washington.  The focus of the trip was to find Greater Sage Grouse, Sagebrush Sparrow and Tricoloured Blackbird.

Followers of the blog may remember my February blog featured a ringed Snowy Plover.  I sent a picture to the  appropriate people and they explained the bird was tagged last summer as a fledging at Salinas NWR.  See map.
Here is the bird which we found at Bodega Bay.  Apparently not many survive their first year so the banders were pleased to receive the information.
A Pacific Wren was standing at attention on Elk Mountain-close to Chilliwack.
Pacific Wren singing.
I didn't think I would get a good picture of this Pygmy Owl because it was backlit but I think it came out quite well.
Chestnut-backed Chickadee at Campbell Valley Park.
On April 3 a report of a Loggerhead Shrike sent us out to the Hope Airport.
Striking pattern of the Shrike from the rear. 
This was our first sighting of a Loggerhead Shrike in British Columbia.
One of our target birds on a whirlwind tour to Washington State was the Greater Sage Grouse.  We awoke 3 AM in Grand Coulee City, to reach a lek indicated on the above map. (Left side).  We were on the side of the road observing the lek and listening at 5:30AM but heard nothing.  As the lighting increased we scanned the area with binoculars, and Dian said "I think I see one.  No, it's just a piece of garbage.  No, wait.  It moved."  I then saw where she was looking and saw a white object-the breast of a male Grouse.  It melted into the shrubbery.  The distance was about 200 meters.  Another Grouse appeared a few minutes later.  No pictures were obtained because of the distance.  We didn't want to enter the land as it was private property and we heard the land owner does not take kindly to trespassers.  No longer feeling tired and cold, we headed to Moses Coulee.
Mose's Coulee (indicated on the map) was reputed to have Sagebrush Sparrows.  About a mile up the road to Jameson Lake (which is at the end of the road) we stopped for lunch.  As we were eating, a bird popped up and it was a Sagebrush Sparrow.  I jumped out of the car and starting taking pictures.
The Sage Sparrow as we first saw it.
Cropped image of the Sage Sparrow.
Moses Coulee where we saw the Sage Sparrow.  
In the same area we saw a few Loggerhead Shrikes.
A Sage Thrasher appeared in almost the same place as the Sage Sparrow.
Cropped version of above Sage Thrasher.
Mountain Bluebird. 
Jameson Lake at the end of the road.
Another view of Jameson Lake.  The lake contained a lot of waterfowl such as Redheads, Ringnecks, Coots, and Common Goldeneye.

 We searched 2 areas (Wilson's Creek and Para Ponds in Othello) for Tricoloured Blackbirds but we had no luck.  We saw lots of Red-winged Blackbirds.  However we were quite happy with the Grouse and Sage Sparrow.  As Meatloaf sang- "2 out of 3 ain't bad".

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