Yellow-breasted chat & Ash-throated flycatcher
- Hello from Ellensburg--
Yesterday husband Bill and I rode the four-wheelers up Parke Creek
(east and north of Ellensburg) to Beacon Ridge and down to Quilomene
Bay on the Columbia River. One month has certainly made a huge
difference--the road was dry and dusty already. (Again, I advise
anyone interested in this route to be sure and have a vehicle with
lots of clearance and 4-wheel drive. Most of it is Wa. St. Dept. of
Fish and Wildlife land, & "green-dot" maps can be obtained free from
the Yakima office--the Naneum map is the one to ask for). Along the
way we were privy to a spectacular wildflower display, chief among
them the Bitterroot (Lewisia rediviva) in the lithosol. They were
blossoming all along the ridges, and so luminously rose-colored (dare
I say refulgent?) that it was breath-taking. Lupine (mostly cream-
colored), showy phlox, larkspur, penstemon, purple sage, bluebells,
service berry, syringa,wild rose, and balsamroot (to name just the
few I could I.D.) were also putting on a show. But I digress--this
is all about birds, and it was a great birding day for me, as I added
two new species to my life list! When we got down to Quilomene Bay,
the bird activity along the riparian growth was phenomenal, and it
took a minute to sort through the cacophony of calls and songs. It
wasn't hard to pick out a Canyon wren, and soon a Lazuli bunting sat
atop a willow and sang in plain sight. The Bullock's orioles were
very busy and chattering away. One bird kept eluding me, despite it's
loud and varied repertoire. I gave up my search when an Ash-throated
flycatcher darted out from a low perch in the ancient walnut trees.
It caught a large green bug and sat right in front of us, crest up
and lovely rufous tail and secondaries very evident. I was so
exited, as this was a new species for me, when suddenly from out of
the nearby brush a Yellow-breasted chat flew out and stole the insect
from him. We couldn't believe the audacity of this chunky warbler--
he continued his bullying behaviour chasing the orioles around too.
Oh--and did I mention that the chat was also a new species for me? I
know that neither of these birds are uncommon, but I was thrilled,
especially since they interacted so close to us. The chat then sat
on a snag and went through some of his wildly varied and loud songs
and calls--my mystery bird revealed.
Others seen: t. vulture, g.eagle, r.t. hawk, A. kestrel, p. falcon,
killdeer, c. quail, chuckar, l. shrike, w. meadowlark, h. lark, A.
goldfinch, sage sparrow, Brewer's sparrow, m. dove, w.t. swift, r.w.
swallow, b. swallow, T. solitaire, w.wood-peewee, Say's phoebe,
Lewis's woodpecker, c. flicker, B. blackbird, b.h. cowbird, r.w.
blackbird, w. tanager, w. kingbird, b.b. magpie, c. raven, d.e.
junco, mt. chickadee, emp. flycatchers (sp?)