It’s been great just spending a little time home in Washington state, enjoying our “early summer” weather (55 degrees and raining). I had one free day last week, and decided to make a quick run across the mountains to do a little birding.
One of the few good things about getting up at 4am – the amazingly spectacular sunrises:
In less than two hours I was on Umtanum Road, southwest of Ellensburg. This area is one of my absolute favorite places in central Washington. The scenery is gorgeous, and the birds are usually plentiful. I lucked into a nice male Bullock’s Oriole in the first 10 minutes.
This area is predominately sage brush, open Ponderosa pine forests, and some brushy riparian areas near the creeks (which were running high). There were still some areas of wildflowers blooming amongst the sage. [And Umtanum Falls was bee-free, Jonsies!]
I soon came to a little creek, where a Lazuli Bunting was singing his little heart out at the top of a small tree.
Other highlights were Western and Mountain Bluebirds – I saw dozens of them, including this nice male Mountain below.
I was a good trip, and I headed home around noon to do some errands and mow the grass. I picked up most of my target species, but I dipped on White-headed Woodpecker – next time, Mr. Pecker!
I spent the weekend with my family on the Olympic Peninsula. While the weather was mostly marginal, we enjoyed our time there. Sunday morning was actually quite nice, and Kristi and I hiked the Geyser Valley trail in Olympic National Park.
This is one of my favorite hikes in the northern Olympics. Bird highlights were Hammond’s Flycatcher, Warbling Vireo, and Western Tanager. We also saw a Northwestern Garter Snake.
Despite its otherwise rich biodiversity, Olympic National Park is home to only three total species of reptiles – two of which are garter snakes. It’s just too cold and rainy here for herps, I guess.
We wrapped up a visit to the Peninsula with a trip to Graysmarsh Farm in Sequim.
If you’re ever in the area, I highly, highly recommend a stop there between early June and the end of August. They have (in rough chronological order of ripening): strawberries, boysenberries, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, and marionberries. The berries are delicious, and it’s easy picking – as opposed to many of the places around Seattle that are usually so picked over it’s hard to find a ripe berry. We picked about 6 lbs of strawberries in less than 30 min with the kids “helping” – and it was less than $11. You can also cut your own lavender there in mid-July.
All in all, it has been a relaxing couple of weeks. I’ll be mostly around Washington state for another two weeks or so before heading to southern California and Arizona.