White Pass Highway Sunday May 4
- WHITE PASS HIGHWAY
4 MAY 2003
Ellen and I and Brian Bell birded lower elevations of the White Pass Highway
today, encountering good numbers of birds in the variety of forest types
along the way.
We began on the Old Naches Road. Warblers were moving west along the canal
bank trail here (0.1 mile north of junction of US-12 and SR-410). We saw
Orange-crowned (3), Nashville (3), Yellow-rumped (40), and Townsend's (2)
Warblers here plus both Golden-crowned (1), and White-crowned (10) Sparrows.
Over the cliffs south of the Naches River were a few White-throated Swifts
and Violet-green Swallows. Scanning Cleman Mountain, we saw no raptors and
noted only one bird, a calling Say's Phoebe. Across SR-410 in the Garry Oak
groves were several Lewis's Woodpeckers. We commented this was a really nice
birding trail through numbers of birds weren't exceptionally high today.
The trail up Bear Canyon is a lovely walk, indeed, in a gorge rimmed by tall
cliffs. Garry Oak, Douglas-fir, Ponderosa Pine, and Quaking Aspen are the
common trees in the canyon, but an array of fruiting shrubs and other plants
make this a rich habitat for birds. Here we tallied Vaux's Swift, one
Hammond's Flycatcher, Steller's Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, one Canyon Wren and
Townsend's Solitaire, Nashville (8+) Warblers, Spotted Towhee, and Chipping
Sparrows. Again, we noted this was a productive birding trail, though we
were early in the season and quite a number of birds were not in evidence.
Along US-12 at milepost 176 was a pair of Harlequin Ducks resting on a
boulder in the roiling Naches River.
Next on our trip was a drive up to Lost Lake (FR-1201). Several Cassin's
Vireos and numbers (10 or so) of Townsend's Warblers were on territory
singing, even though it was coolish and blustery. Farther along Tieton Road
we made a left onto FR-1202 and in a third of a mile stopped by a swampy
area and set off on foot into the woods. A ten-minute walk brought us to a
series of swampy small lakes surrounded by marsh and aspen groves. We found
lots of birds on this circuit, including Canada Geese, Wood Duck (4),
Green-winged Teal, Mallard, and Ring-necked Duck. Notable forest birds here
included a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers. Both sexes were on separate live
Ponderosa Pines. They had drilled lots of wells in these trees and were
quietly probing for sap.
Clear Lake had lots of duck action. We scoped Ring-necked (30), Barrow's
Goldeneye (15), Bufflehead (2), and Hooded (1) and Common (10 Mergansers
from shore here. Finally, at the east end of Rimrock Lake, we noted Common
Loon and Osprey.