My dad and I had a couple pretty incredible days out birding, each of which provided a single addition to my ABA year list. On the first outing we went exploring the left over burns from the Stevens County fires this past summer. We reminisced along the way, recalling the days some 20 years ago when tracking down Black-backed and White-headed Woodpeckers in fresh burns along the Spokane River was some of my first real birding. To this day, it's still some of my favorite kind of birding. On this particular day, we wound up with three Black-backs and a White-headed; the latter wasn't a year bird, but I got much better looks than I had in June. Also had a personal high of 22 Hairy Woodpeckers in one spot. Fun stuff.
And then there were Bohemians...
and some real big Mule Deer.
Then on the 26th, we headed south to Whitman County where we had a day that far exceeded our expectations. One of the first birds of the day was #507 for the year, a Gray-crowned Rosy-finch at Steptoe Butte. I got to see it for all of about eight seconds as it flushed in front of our car, landed in the road behind us for real quick, then took off never to be found again. The pinkish tones in the wing and gray coloring on the head were unmistakable; such a sweet bird that I hadn't seen for a long while.
Steptoe was dramatically beautiful around sunrise, and gave us the nice surprise of a Moose, my only one of the year!
The number of Townsend's Solitaires was impressive throughout the morning, totaling seven between a couple locations.
Colfax was surprisingly birdy, and I even found my dad his only county lifer of the day, a Brown Creeper.
Cedar and Bohemian Waxwing
And Rock Lake wasn't too bad either:
And then, the bird of the day, a really sweet find for inland Washington.
Point Hudson at Sunrise
The shorebirds were one of the fun highlights of the day, as I wound up tallying seven species.
A stop at Gardiner Beach produced a first for me, this fun hybrid:
American x Eurasian Wigeon
Then further north at John Wayne Marina I found a pure Eurasian...
Working our way out to the Gibson Spit area, we came across a group of sparrows that had a couple Golden-crowns, and once we got to the water I had a distant flock of Brant fly by - and just like that I was at 511!
Another fun find from that area was a Northern Shrike, which I don't think I've had on the west side before.
By far my favorite stop of the day was Ediz Hook. My best find for the day came in a pair of Ruddy Turnstones which I spotted among a flock of Black-bellied Plovers, Black Turnstones, Sanderling, and a Black Oystercatcher. This was only my second time seeing Ruddies in Washington.
And at Ediz, the Harlequins are always close and abundant.
Ruddy with Black Turnstones
It took some patience, but I finally came away with these long desired shots:
And here's a couple highlights from Island County these past couple days. I love birding out here so much, for obvious reasons.
Surf Scoters and Barrow's Goldeneyes
And now, I can't believe it, but I'm signing off for 2014. I'll do a year recap post soon just to catalog this incredible year, but not before getting a start to the 2015 list tomorrow morning. I will rest well tonight knowing that a year ago I set out to reach a goal, and I accomplished it.