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Sharp-eyed birder’s list shines in Lincoln County

Western meadowlark. (Jaime Johnson)
Western meadowlark. (Jaime Johnson)
From staff reports

Outdoors editor Rich Landers wasn’t the only one who had a good day of wildlife observation in Lincoln County last weekend.

Following is a birding report that a rain-drenched, wind-whipped Norm Engeland filed for Inland Northwest Birders. An experienced birding enthusiast with a binocular will spot and identify more species in a day than a casual observer in a year.

“Left Spokane in a driving rain Friday morning heading west into a lightning storm and dodging thundershowers. Rain let up but ‘My the wind do blow.’ Saw a herd of about 16 elk four miles past Davenport with three tundra swans across the road in a field. Also lingering rough-legged hawk and fresh Say’s phoebe.

“Basically too windy for sparrows to perch.”

At Swanson Lakes Wildlife Area south of Creston, where the wind continued at a gale force, he found the landscape dotted with puddles and lakes bustling with waterfowl, including: Northern pintails and shovelers, gadwalls, wigeons, green-winged teal, mallards, canvasbacks, redheads, lesser scaups, buffleheads, coots, ruddy and ring-necked ducks and Canada geese.

And there was more: killdeer, tree swallows, bald eagles, meadow larks, kestrels, red-tailed hawks, Brewer’s blackbirds, red-winged blackbirds, ring-necked pheasants and savannah sparrows.

Off the Seven Springs Dairy road, he spotted a loggerhead shrike and a lonely yellow-headed blackbird.

“On Old Kuck Road, had to kneel in front of the truck to avoid being blown away,” he said, to identify a greater yellow legs.

At the Davenport cemetery, where the shelter belt provided an appreciated wind break, he spotted ruby-crowned kinglets and golden-crowned kinglets.

Reardon Ponds were churning up mud and sporting whitecaps with just a few ducks, he said. But off U.S. 2 he sighted a prairie falcon free-riding the currents while another was hunkered on a fence post leaning strong in to the wind.

Approaching Spokane, perhaps it’s no surprise, Engeland concluded his turbulent day of wildlife observation with a good look at turkey vultures.

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