Winter birds of Eastern WA

I’ve just returned from the fabulous three day field trip to Eastern Washington lead by Stefan Schlick.

I’m going to try and stick to chronological order.

On our way there we stopped at Cashmere to have a quick but excellent look at Acorn Woodpecker (Melanerpes formicivorus):
1.

We also had a few stops to scan the flocks of water birds.
Here’s a part of the large flock. See if you can find all the species there :) If you’re up to task you’ll probably want to click on the image and choose the original size:
2.

Day 1

Our first of many Rough-legged Hawks (Buteo lagopus):
3.

And first of our many Northern Pygmy-Owls (Glaucidium gnoma):
4a.

Nah! I’m just kidding. There’s no such thing as “too many owls” especially such cute little things as pygmy. But we were lucky enough to see four.

4b.

And finally the flock of Snow Buntings (Plectrophenax nivalis)!
5a.

They were feeding and from time to time taking short flights towards us:
5b.

Amazing watching the birds flying and fully disappearing as soon as they touch the ground!

At the first glance, all we can see is one flying bird. But there’re at least 13 more in that shot :)
5c.

5d.

The covey of 15 or so Gray Partridge (Perdix perdix) surprised us by not flying away but peacefully feeding and moving up the hill, eventually disappearing behind the ridge.

6a.

Gray Partridge is introduced species but they’ve had no negative ecological impact.

6b.

Aim!:
6c.

Jump!:
6d.

Next, Gray-crowned Rosy-Finches (Leucosticte tephrocotis).

In the flock of about 40 Gray-cheeked form birds we found one Brown-cheeked (or Gray-crowned) rosy-finch. Try to spot him/her :)
7a.

Here, two subspecies together:
7b.

7c.

7d.

We never met a large flock of Bohemian Waxwings (Bombycilla garrulus) but at least we found three of them.

They shared the only tree in the area with some fruit left with one American Robin (Turdus migratorius) and one Townsend’s Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi).

8a.

However much I wanted to take some photos of waxwings the weather wouldn’t permit.

It started snowing so heavily that I snatched one last shot and covered my camera:
8b.

Here’s that solitaire:
9.

Here’s just the picture of Northern Flicker (Colaptes auratus) sitting on the wooded duck to illustrate what the weather looked like at the moment.

Actually a moment before that shot the woodpecker was sharing the duck ride with Eurasian Collared-Dove:
10.

Immature Bald Eagle (Haliaeetus leucocephalus):
11.

Ruffed Grouse (Bonasa umbellus):
12.

And by the end of the first day our second Pygmy-Owl:
13a.

Fake eyes on the back of the head:
13b.

Day 2

Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos):
14a.

14b.

That is how people usually see Gray Partridge:
15.

There were hunters close by and I’m glad the covey flew in different direction.

Then we found our third chicken of the trip – Sharp-tailed Grouse (Tympanuchus phasianellus).

Yes, it’s just a photo-proof quality but I’m happy with it :) The birds were too far for a nice photo but we had excellent views through the scopes:
16.

House Finches (Haemorhous mexicanus):
17.

Ring-necked Pheasants (Phasianus colchicus):
18a.

At first I couldn’t really see the birds, just shining red-golden spots, breathtakingly beautiful.

18b.

Pheasants are also introduced and harmless birds.

People breed them and set free. Guess what for? To hunt. What a shame.

18c.

Fly and hide well!:
18d.

Another amazing encounter – Long-eared Owl (Asio otus):
19a.

14 people came rather close (not intentionally that close, but look how well camouflaged s/he is!) and slowly backed away without flashing the bird!

I love the droplets on her feathers:
19b.

Our fifth and last chicken – California Quail (Callipepla californica).

What a cute little ball! She just sat there looking at us with the wind messing up her feathers:
20.

Numerous flocks of Horned Larks (Eremophila alpestris).

They don’t blend to the ground as well as Snow Buntings and much easier to spot:
21a.

In the warm light of setting sun it seems that not just the snow sparkles but the lark shines as well:
21b.

Notice the one hiding behind the bush :)
He’s showing his “horns”:
21c.

Many subspecies are there and I’m yet to learn about them.

21d.

21e.

21f.

Day 3

Yet another Northern Pygmy-Owl :)
22.

Northern Shrike (Lanius excubitor):
23.

I have other photos of shrikes where you can actually see the bird :)
But this photo reminds me of the places we went.

Our last stop was Leavenworth where we cruised around the city in the search of Pine Grosbeaks (Pinicola enucleator).

We found Townsend’s Solitaire in the company of American Robins:
24.

And finally in Mountain Ash tree there was a flock of about 30 grosbeaks!
25a.

25b.

What a perfect ending of a great trip!

Winter birds of Eastern WA

4 thoughts on “Winter birds of Eastern WA

  1. Dasha, Your photos of the birds are absolutely stunning. I love that you are able to go on field trips to view the different birds. My birder friend wants to meet you soon. I’ll email you about a convenient time. Hugs to you/family. Gloria ;O)

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