Wenas Lake to Clear Lake-1 October
- Hi Everyone,
A Yakima Valley Audubon Society fieldtrip today (1 October), with six
participants, visited sites along the lower east slopes of the Cascades. The
weather was mostly good, though it rained a bit at Clear Lake. We had a good
day and saw 68 species of birds.
Wenas Lake, now only a small pool, had only a few shorebirds. We found
Killdeer, Greater Yellowlegs, both Pectoral and Least Sandpipers, and
Wilson's Snipe. A lone Great Egret was keeping company with a few Great Blue
Herons. There were seven Double-crested Cormorants and Mallard and
Ring-necked Ducks. American Pipits were the most conspicuous bird on the
greening lake bed. Savannah Sparrows were also numerous, but kept mostly
hidden. A Belted Kingfisher, a favorite of many of use, noisily rattled
In the shrubbery around the lake there were lots of sparrows, especially
Golden-crowned and White-crowned, one Fox, and one Spotted Towhee. Lurking
in the bushes, with an eye for a meal, was one Sharp-shinned Hawk.
Heading towards Naches, we paused by the roadside where cows were being fed
hay, attracting blackbirds by the score (mostly Brewer's along with a few
Red-wings), a few Brown-headed Cowbirds, and lots of European Starlings and
House Sparrows. Red-tailed Hawks and American Kestrels were added to our
Rimrock Lake provided our gull viewing. There were two Bonaparte's, lots of
California's, and a few Ring-billed and Glaucous-winged. There were at least
200 Common Mergansers along the inlet stream, a concentration that occurs
each fall, probably attracted to the spawning of Kokanee Salmon. Also
attracted to this food source were two Bald Eagles. Turkey Vultures were
also easy to spot around both Clear and Rimrock Lakes. I wonder if they, too
are munching on dead fish here.
Clear Lake, though milky-hued (maybe a landslide due to the recent rains)
had a nice collection of waterfowl, including Canada Geese, Mallard,
Gadwall, American Wigeon, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser Scaup, both Common and
Barrow's Goldeneyes, Hooded Merganser, and Ruddy Duck. The highlight in this
department was a SURF SCOTER, a species which is found a few times each fall
in Yakima County. A small party of American Coots were here, too. Also
exciting here was a PEREGRINE FALCON, eyeing the abundant waterfowl on the
lake from its perch atop a snag high above the lake.
At the Clear Lake Day Use Area, we walked the paved trail and tallied some
mountain species, including Steller's Jay, Mountain Chickadee,
Red-breasted Nuthatch, Brown Creeper, Winter Wren, both Golden-crowned and
Ruby-crowned Kinglets, both Hermit and Varied Thrushes, and Yellow-rumped
Warbler. The highlight here was a male WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER, a migratory
woodpecker which seems to mostly depart by early September.
At the outlet of Clear Lake we took time to admire hundreds of Kokanee
Salmon in a shallow, clear stream joining Clear Creek just below the dam. We
were privileged to get very close views of at least four American Dippers in
this short section of creek, perhaps feasting on the roe of the salmon.
Heading homeward, we stopped briefly on the south side of Rimrock Lake to
scope Western Grebes.
At our final stop at Bear Canyon in the new Tieton Preserve, we had good
views of an adult Golden Eagle soaring and stooping above the beautiful
cliffs there, a nice way to end a very good day!