Fall’s in the air, so are the migrants
Even though we humans can’t gather in crowds or head out on trips, the birds sure can. Shorebirds, hawks and swallows can now be found in large groups as they gather together to start their long journey south. Here are some suggestions on finding them, taken from past September Audubon field trips.
If it’s hawks you’re after, large groups of Swainson Hawks can often be found over the fields south of town. These beautiful raptors soar in circles, gathering together before starting their long journey south. Many of them will travel all the way to Argentina, where they will spend the winter feasting on grasshoppers and other insects.
Or head to Bald Mountain, which is found on Skyline Road on the way to Jubilee lake. Bring a lawn chair, binoculars and lunch and see how many hawks can be seen traveling south overhead. Having a birding guide handy will be helpful as you try to identify who’s passing by.
Shorebirds galore can be found on the Walla Walla River Delta as well as the Millet Pond. With binoculars and a spotting scope, you’ll soon be schooling yourself on various Sandpiper species, Dowitchers, Phalaropes, Yellowlegs and Plovers.
If a walk is more to your liking, try a stroll around Juniper Canyon, found along Highway 730 past Port Kelly. A decent trail leads around the wetland, traveling through both desert and wetland habitat. Canyon and Rock Wrens, Swallows and Grebes can be found. If you’re stealthy and lucky, perhaps a Rail or a Sora.
For a cooler walk close to town, amble up South Fork Russell Creek Road in the early morning or evening. This great habitat will often still have various Flycatchers, Veery and Chats that have not yet headed south. Also, Great Horned and Pygmy Owls are always a possibility.
So get out there and see what’s moving through our area. The fun of it is, you never know what you’ll find.
Photos courtesy of Jim Parrish
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- Letter to Our Membership, September 2020