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9791Raptors! A Yakima Audubon trip to Toppenish and Fort Simcoe

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  • Andy Stepniewski
    Feb 2, 2014
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      TOPPENISH AREA RAPTOR TRIP

      1 FEBRUARY 2014



      Eight keen Yakima Auduboners met on this overcast and chilly morning and
      ventured south to the Lower Yakima Valley, focusing mainly on raptors.



      We started in Toppenish and had great scope views of the Peregrine Falcon,
      an adult on its usual railing on the water tower just north of the
      US-97/SR-22 junction. A great start! We saw lots of feral Rock Pigeons, a
      favored prey item for the Peregrine, but didn't witness any hunting by the
      falcon.



      We next moved south to Toppenish NWR searching out birds on the open ponds,
      farmfields, and brushy patches. The early returning species of the spring
      waterfowl migration such as Canada Geese, Mallard, and Northern Pintail were
      back in big numbers, always a pleasure to watch. Our most notable sighting
      of this clan was a bunch of CACKLING GEESE mixed in with Canadas, in a waste
      corn field, probably a high count for the Yakima area.



      Raptors were everywhere. Red-tailed Hawk, as expected, was the most common,
      followed by Northern Harrier, American Kestrel., and Cooper's Hawk. We
      tallied only a few each of Bald Eagle, and Rough-legged Hawk. We saw only
      one Prairie Falcon. By February, many of these fine desert falcons are back
      by their nesting cliffs so we were not surprised to see so few.



      The SANDHILL CRANE is still out in the fields along Lateral C. We heard it
      first, then scoped it as it slowly moved about on short-cropped fields well
      east of Lateral C about ½ mile south of Marion Drain Road. Debie also picked
      out a very distant Northern Shrike atop a naked tree, here.



      West of Harrah Road on Pumphouse Road we chanced on a single flock of
      American Goldfinches, 250 or so. This is an unusual number for the area.
      They seemed attracted to fields blanketed with a species of invasive
      thistle.



      We returned to Lateral C and the south end of Lateral A at dusk for the owl
      show and were treated to three Short-eared Owls flapping about Lateral C and
      two more short-ears and a pair of Great Horned Owls dueting southeast of
      Lateral A.




      Cackling Goose 50

      Canada Goose 2500

      Tundra Swan 2

      Mallard 3000

      Northern Pintail 1200

      Green-winged Teal 5

      Lesser Scaup 1

      Ring-necked Pheasant 3

      Great Blue Heron 5

      Northern Harrier 28

      Cooper's Hawk 6

      Bald Eagle 3

      Red-tailed Hawk 53

      Rough-legged Hawk 2

      American Coot 1

      Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 45

      Eurasian Collared-Dove 30

      Mourning Dove 70

      Great Horned Owl 2

      Short-eared Owl 5

      Belted Kingfisher 2

      Downy Woodpecker 1

      Northern Flicker 1

      American Kestrel 17

      Prairie Falcon 1

      Northern Shrike 1

      Black-billed Magpie 10

      Common Raven 9

      Horned Lark 30

      Marsh Wren 1

      American Robin 1

      Savannah Sparrow 8

      Song Sparrow 3

      White-crowned Sparrow 335

      Dark-eyed Junco 40

      Red-winged Blackbird 2200

      Western Meadowlark 26

      Brewer's Blackbird 500

      House Finch 40

      American Goldfinch 250

      House Sparrow 10




      Heading west from the refuge area, we walked Pom Pom Road west of White Swan
      from near Marion Drain Road south to the creek. This fine stretch of
      riparian habitat (cottonwoods, water birch, white alder, and aspen with a
      dense shrub understory) was excellent for exercise but the birding was very
      quiet. Denny first spotted three gulls flying northeast high overhead. These
      got us pretty excited; unfortunately we were not able to identify these
      waifs.



      Cooper's Hawk 1

      Red-tailed Hawk 1

      gull sp. 3

      Northern Flicker 1

      Black-billed Magpie 3

      Common Raven 2

      Black-capped Chickadee 3

      Bewick's Wren 4

      Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1

      Spotted Towhee 2





      We walked for an hour about the Garry Oak groves at Fort Simcoe. It, to, was
      quiet, save for Lewis's Woodpeckers, always a crowd pleaser. We kept our
      ears and eyes open for Western Scrub-jays but failed to note this species.
      The sewage lagoons (pretty stinky) to th e west of the park had some
      waterfowl, including one Wood Duck.




      Wood Duck 1

      Mallard 24

      California Quail 20

      Cooper's Hawk 1

      Red-tailed Hawk 1

      Lewis's Woodpecker 15

      Northern Flicker 1

      American Kestrel 1

      Common Raven 2

      European Starling 30

      Song Sparrow 1

      Dark-eyed Junco 30





      In all we observed 51 species of birds and tallied 118 individuals of 10
      species of raptors, eight diurnal and two owls.



      It was a good day!



      Andy Stepniewski

      Wapato WA steppie@...