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10202Wenas Lake mud & such

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  • kevinslucas
    Aug 30, 2014
      (I'm posting this using Yahoo! web page, hoping it won't muck up the formatting as it's sometimes wont to do. If Yahoo! gloms it all together, I apologize in advance.)

      As Wenas Lake water level has lowered, there's more open mud exposed. At the water's edge there's now very little Water Smartweed (Persicaria amphibia, formerly Polygonum coccineum) and much more mud. Thanks to Jeff Kozma who had identified the plant and to Richard Repp for passing that on to me. Being around this summer I've been visiting the lake a lot. In early July the shorebird numbers picked up. With lots of Smartweed and few patches of mud, it made viewing easy. Numerous times I watched ten species at once. The birds stayed concentrated, and mostly stayed put, even with a loud game of fetch very close by. I watched a Pectoral Sandpiper over the course of a week. When it arrived it looked healthy, but after a week feeding at the resort it's physique became plump and duck-like, loaded up for the next leg south.

      Now, with lots of open mud my viewing there hasn't actually improved. The shorebirds are more spread out and mobile, and I've been seeing fewer species. Still I spend lots of time in one spot, and the birds come quite close giving beautiful views. Yesterday I watched seven young Red-necked Phalarope doing their circus routine. Least, Western, Semipalmated, Spotted and Baird's Sandpipers worked the long stretches of mud with Killdeer vociferously stirring things up. One of three Baird's there yesterday appeared notable darker on the chest than the others. That's similar to what I saw last Sunday after the rain let up. Then I saw 4 Baird's. One appeared dark breasted, almost like a Pectoral Sandpiper, but I watched it a lot, and its size, leg color, bill shape and color, and patterning matched its fellows. I didn't photograph it as I'd left my camera in the car in case the skies opened up again.

      If you're out there today, you could see if you can see a slightly darker Baird's, and keep an eye out for a shorebird guide book that might be on walkabout in the Smartweed, or just enjoy the view.

      If you plan to pick up trash out there, take some bags. I've had to start bringing it home as the blue trash barrels are pretty much full. Volunteers empty those barrels on occasion.

      Good Birding,
      Kevin Lucas
      Selah, WA

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