Hwy 12 and the Not so Solitary Solitaires
We took a trip up Hwy 12 today, planning on heading for Clear Lake. Turns out there is road construction just this side of Rimrock Lake with "30 minute wait times possible," so we got as far as the construction zone and turned back.
What was remarkable about our trip were the Townsend Solitaires. They were at almost every pullout that we stopped at. I went conservative on EBird and reported a total of 6 (two at the Tieton Nature Trail), but I would say that there were several more than that. Normally I am happy just to see one or two. Anyway, if you are looking for Townsend's Solitaire, give Hwy 12 a try.
We also found some nice birds at the Tieton River Nature Trail, including a Ruffed grouse (thank you, Richard), and had great looks at a female Black-backed woodpecker on Wildcat road.
Karen and Joe Zook
"What was remarkable about our trip were the Townsend Solitaires. They were at almost every pullout that we stopped at. I went conservative on EBird and reported a total of 6 (two at the Tieton Nature Trail), but I would say that there were several more than that. Normally I am happy just to see one or two. Anyway, if you are looking for Townsend's Solitaire, give Hwy 12 a try."
I was out at Wenas Lake yesterday afternoon Bostick Birding (in the movie the big year, Owen Wilson's character, Kenny Bostick, lets other birders battle the elements on the remote Alaskan island, Attu , to find birds missing from his list then he swoops in to tick 'em). Exploring eBird data, I noted that Jeff had spotted a Common Loon at the lake so I dashed out and spotted the crisply breeding plumage bird.
While there, a Townsend's Solitaire flew to the top of a short barren bush on the hillside just above the dam; this area was completely burned in a fire last year and that bush was the tallest thing in the immediate area.
After reading of the Zooks' success at spotting Solitaires yesterday, I thought perhaps a wave of migrating Townsend's was sweeping across the county. After all, this species is filed in field guides with thrushes and Yakkers are certainly familiar with flocks of Robins and Bluebirds. Piqued, I decided to check their account in Birds of North America Online. My interpretation of the data presented is that Solitaire is an accurate description indeed. A high elevation breeder, the Solitaires in our area likely drop to lower elevations in the winter to establish individual feeding territories rich in berries, junipers frequently. As early as March, they may begin to test the waters with daily flights towards or into suitable breeding habitat but generally fall back to the feeding territory. They do not flock but the amount of light or local conditions must trigger individuals to move during a similar time frame. I have a faint memory of hitting what seemed to be a flock of Solitaires along Audubon Road with John Hebert one time...believe it was in the fall.
Befuddled Bostic Birder by Bonnie Boon
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