Went on a small expedition yesterday to a favorite winter hike. I parked
at the Oak Creek headquarters, crossed the highway and the new bridge over
the Tieton. Turned right and went through the elk fence. There's a big
basalt cliff right there where a canyon wren lives. I heard it making soft
buzzy calls-- I think of these as winter songs, have never heard the loud
descending song this time of year. There was also a water ouzel in the
river. Since this area burned in 2002, much of the brushy cover for little
tweety birds is gone. The dogs definitely scented quail, which seem to
like some scruffy apple trees. Ken says he saw an adult bald eagle in the
area a few days ago. The elk feeding program has just started, and you can
hear the elk talking to each other from quite a distance.
And what about the varied thrushes? Last winter they were resident in our
yard, and I heard them almost daily. I saw one recently, but they don't
seem to be around as much as they were last year. Occasionally we hear the
local screech owl.