PRIEST RAPIDS LAKE
1 SEPTEMBER 2013
Eric Heisey, Ellen, and I canoed the Yakima County side of Priest Rapids
Lake. This was a new way for us to bird easternmost side of our county.We
hauled along Ellen's bike, locked it to a pumping station at the lake's
southeast corner, then drove our vehicle to the wildlife area put-in on Road
26. From there we paddled north to Alkali Creek on the Kittitas County
boundary, then south along the west shore back to the bike. Ellen returned
iin 40 minutes with the car. It was a six-hour journey, very hot at times,
at others moderated by a breeze.
We fantased there would be lots of rarities. Alas, the only sighting flagged
as unusual by eBird was a flock of 28 AMERICAN AVOCETS we saw flying north
near the west shore, then later observed closely as they roosted on Goose
Island on the Grant County side.
Don't expect solitude on Priest Rapids on a hot Labor Day weekend. The scene
is mayhem, with jet boats, ski-doos, fisherfolk, and boats zipping around
towing very happy tube riders roaring this way and that, a major downside
for a birder.
As we glided over the mostly calm and clear waters, we could easily see
expansive beds of milfoil, an invasive aquatic plant that somewhat resembles
aquarium types. These underwater "forests" waved serenely in the current,
reminding me of a kelp on the coast. It was obvious why coots and other
waterbirds winter here by the thousands from October through early spring.
EARED GREBES were everywhere on the south end of the lake, probably finding
a county high number. We may have encountered their main migration window.
We did well on falcons with a PEREGRINE adult bird at the nest site
occupied for at least several years. Farther south we noted a Prairie Falcon
chasing a Red-tailed Hawk while an American Kestrel protested.
A yodeling Common Loon in the hot afternoon sundefinitely seemed out of
place from its cool, Canadian breeding lakes.
Canada Goose 12
Blue-winged/Cinnamon Teal 3
Northern Pintail 1
Common/Barrow's Goldeneye 1
Common Merganser 5
Common Loon 4
Horned Grebe 3
Eared Grebe 60
Western Grebe 11
Double-crested Cormorant 5
American White Pelican 1
Great Blue Heron 2
Red-tailed Hawk (Western) 2
Virginia Rail 1
American Coot 5
American Avocet 28 .
Ring-billed Gull 30
California Gull 15
Caspian Tern 1
American Kestrel 5
Peregrine Falcon 1
Prairie Falcon 1
Black-billed Magpie 2
American Crow 1
Common Raven 5
Horned Lark 1
Rock Wren 8
Canyon Wren 3
House Wren 1
Nashville Warbler 1
Wilson's Warbler 1
Chipping Sparrow 10
Song Sparrow 2
House Finch 5