Summer Birds – 2021

New birds are becoming quiet and are harder to find normally in July.  They can just plain disappear to get relief from the heat like we had in July.  The new birds dropped off considerably.  Five of the 6 new birds were spotted on the field trip to the Sluice Boxes.  Perhaps most surprising was the American Kestrel.  I didn’t see my first one until July 10th.  A Northern Waterthrush, the Red-naped Sapsucker, Cordilleran Flycatcher and a Warbling Vireo rounded out the new sightings.  Later in the month a Peregrine Falcon at Benton Lake completed the new birds for the month.  The river level at West Bank Park was fluctuating the whole month.  Some days there was a lot of mud bar exposure and others none at all. On low days the gulls would gather on the mud flats along with American Avocets, Killdeer and an occasional sandpiper.  One evening there were more than 40 Killdeer racing about – some days they all want to say something at the same time.  The interesting days are when they are silent and after I am finished counting, I am amazed that so many Killdeer can be so quiet.  Spotted Sandpipers seemed to have been successful again this year.  At times there are groups of 4 or 5.  Gull numbers and proportions change through out the month.  This year the predominant gull was California – they even hatched some young ones in the area of West Bank Park.  When the Franklin’s Gulls started to show up the California Gull numbers started to dip.  Shortly after Ring-billed Gulls were showing up.  Most years Ring-billed Gulls were the predominant gull.  By the end of July the California Gulls were in the minority.

August would prove to be just as challenging.  Although Yellow Warblers were still around few are singing.  The young birds just “chip”.  So do a lot of other young birds.  The river level still fluctuates.  On one particularly hot evening when the river was low, I went out for a walk because it was breezy and felt better than being stuck inside.  It was an interesting evening.  There were quite a few sandpipers.  Most appeared to be Semi-palmated Sandpipers.  I wished some to be Western but I think they were just juveniles with fresh plumages.  The yellow light due to the smoke can make judging colors difficult.  There were Solitary Sandpipers (one group of three which contradicted their name), Greater and Lesser Yellowlegs, Spotted Sandpipers, Great Blue Heron, American Avocets, and a Black-bellied Plover (number 169). It was more enjoyable because I met two others bird watching that evening.  August 25th the river was dropping once again and there was shallow water – and more sandpipers.  Holy cow – 16 Stilt Sandpipers (number 170).  They were so obvious with their heavy, long, drooping bill and yellow legs.  They aren’t very large – there were some Lesser Yellowlegs and a Wilson’s Phalarope.  All a very similar size.  It was exciting to see – and they were back the next evening – all 16! And they have continued to the end of the month.  Amazing.  A visit to Giant Springs on the 29th did not result in a Neotropic Cormorant sighting, but a Brown Thrasher (number 171) was spotted lurking through bushes.  (The Neotropic, see page 6, was seen again on August 30th). Several fall warblers (Yellow-rumped, Wilson’s and Orange-crowned) were spotted as well.  Let the fall migration begin.

8 months into the year.  What will the fall warbler migration bring?  Will I find some of those “misses”?  Can I possibly get close to 200 species for Cascade County in one year?  It seems like a stretch at this point.  Stay tuned.  Beth Hill