Hitting One of My “Double Zero” Goals – A “Biggish” Day

I enjoy being almost anywhere there are birds to be seen and at almost any times that work well for seeing them.  The nature observer aspect of birding is challenging and rewarding – and to repeat – enjoyable.  But there is definitely a part of my personal make-up that responds to the chase, the hunt, the planning and execution that comes with targeted pursuits – in birding and in other activities.  Having goals has always been a part of my life – some attained and many more not – and even if attained – finding new ones or changing the old ones to find something new or something more or better – defining that differently than perhaps someone else would – but in a way that works for and has meaning for me.

As I have written earlier, this is not going to be a Big Year in Washington – been there, done that, loved it – but now I want and need to look more to other aspects of my life, other people, other activities and other needs.  BUT…I cannot imagine a birdless year and I still want the organization, thrill, enjoyment and sense of accomplishment that comes with setting, pursuing and hopefully meeting goals.  Not the single goal of a Big Year but of several others – arbitrary perhaps but tied to numbers that at least provide some perceived unique quality – because they have two zeroes at the end – multiples of 100 and somehow that makes them more “special” to me and maybe to someone reading this post.  I have set a lot of Double Zero goals for the year.

An earlier post outlined how I hope to reach one of those Double Zero goals – the one with a 3 and two zeroes – seeing 300 species in Washington this year – a far cry from earlier true Big Year pursuits of up to 365 species in a year – but respectable and motivating.  My last post included the realization of one of my other Double Zero goals – the 200 goal – finding life species number 200 in Kittitas County – accomplished with the observation of an Anna’s Hummingbird at the Hyak feeders at Snoqualmie Pass.   That last post dealt mainly with 4 Edmonds birders looking for some rare birds in Yakima County and in the process observing almost 90 species for the day.  This post is about pursuit and attainment of the first of the Double Zero goals – the 100 goal – finding at least 100 species in Washington in a single day.  It was set as a goal some months ago, but the success of that trip with my Edmonds friends motivated me to get out and give it a try this past Saturday.

Even though I think some additional stops and focus on that earlier trip might have gotten us to 100, this time I would be on my own and thus would not have Steve’s knowledge, Frank’s great ears, Ann Marie’s good eyes (and stellar record-keeping),  and also we had seen some really good birds on that earlier trip that were not guaranteed this time.  So in planning my pursuit I decided to repeat most of that earlier route but adding some new spots that would increase the odds of hitting that magical 100 species.  First and foremost that meant some close to home birding in hometown Edmonds – particularly at the waterfront where there would be the chance of birds not possible east of the mountains.

On a whim, I made a first stop at Yost Park – less than 1/2 mile from my house.  Maybe I would get lucky and hear the morning serenade of the resident Barred Owls even though it was now way past breeding season and the only Ebird report of one there this month was from June 3.  My whim was immediately rewarded at 4:40 a.m. when the song of a Black Throated Gray Warbler greeted me as soon as I opened the car door.  It was a species not seen in that 90 species day.  Another new bird came almost as quickly – a Brown Creeper with its high pitched call notes.  I figured both Pacific and Bewick’s Wrens should be around and short plays of their songs resulted in both – coming up to the low growth near the parking area.  It had not yet been three minutes and I already had 4 new birds.  Could an owl be added as well?  It took a single call to answer the question.  I do a reasonably good “Who cooks for you” call and this one immediately brought a response and the Barred Owl flew from its roost near the tennis courts immediately over my head and then, chased by American Crows, down onto a tree in the forest below.  The Crows continued to harass it, and the Owl continued to call for the 10 minutes I remained there.  A Downy Woodpecker made an appearance as I got back into my car (another bird missed on that previous trip). A Great start!!

Yost Park Barred Owl – A Good Omen

Barred Owl

Yost Park was a spur of the moment add – and a bare 15 minutes into the day, I was already at 14 species.  Next was a stop at the Edmonds waterfront hoping for seabirds.  Unfortunately the tide was very high and the birds relatively few, but I easily added Heerman’s and Glaucous Winged Gulls, Pigeon Guillemot, Belted Kingfisher and Caspian Tern – 4 of which were not possible elsewhere on this day.

Heerman’s Gull

Heerman's Gull

The last planned stop was the Edmonds Marsh.  On a mini-scouting trip there the day before I had Virginia Rail, Marsh Wren, Killdeer and Purple Martin – none of which were seen on that previous trip.  No Purple Martin this time but the others were immediately heard and there were three other swallows species, a Great Blue Heron and both Mallards and Gadwalls – neither species a sure thing elsewhere.  I had now been birding about an hour and had seen 35 species – 14 not seen on the previous trip.  Time to head east.

As in the Edmonds Birders Go East trip, I made my Eastern first stop at Snoqualmie Pass.  The place was alive.  I heard an Olive Sided Flycatcher as soon as I got out of the car and then quickly added Swainson’s Thrush, Yellow and Townsend’s Warblers,  Pine Siskins, Rufous Hummingbird, Chestnut Backed Chickadees, Northern Flicker and Brown Headed Cowbird.  Eleven new species for the day and one more that had not been seen on the previous trip.  A quick stop at the Hyak Hummingbird feeders again added Anna’s HummingbirdNashville Warbler, Willow Flycatcher,  Evening Grosbeak, and Common Raven.  Nothing new from the earlier trip but now I was at 50 species – half way there.

Evening Grosbeak

Evening Grosbeak

My next stop was to be Bullfrog Pond – a favorite place and one not visited on the previous trip.  As usual Bullfrog Pond delivered well.  37 species were seen in the hour spent there including 18 new for the day and 5 that had not been seen on the earlier trip (Williamson’s and Red Breasted Sapsuckers, American Dipper, Gray Catbird and White Breasted Nuthatch).

Gray Catbird

Gray Catbird

On to another favorite place, the nearby Railroad Ponds in South Cle Elum – also not visited before.  Thirty-one species were seen – 9 more new for the day and two not seen previously (Purple Finch and Bank Swallow).  A special observation was an adult Pileated Woodpecker feeding a juvenile.

Pileated Woodpeckers

Pileated Woodpeckers

Purple Finch

Purple Finch

The day count was now at 77 – three quarters of the way there – with lots of birds new from the earlier trip – looking good but many of the great birds from the last trip were not guaranteed – part of the fun.  An Osprey on I-90 made it 78.

On that earlier trip, we had not spent much time looking for Shrub/Steppe birds.  I decided to bird Durr Road on this trip to look for some.  It was a good decision – only six species seen but 5 were new for the day and two – Vesper Sparrow and Sage Thrasher had not been seen on that other trip.  83 species and counting.  By the way – great views of Mt. Rainier and the Stuart Range – always enjoy them and this time I remembered to take pictures.

Vesper Sparrow

Vesper Sparrow1

Views from Durr Road – Mount Rainier and the Stuart Range



The next couple of hours repeated the previous trip – Umptanum Road with a stop at the parking lot for the Umptanum Falls trail, North Wenas Road with a stop at Bluebird Box 7 to look for the Calliope Hummingbird and then to Maloy Road hoping the Least Flycatcher remained and to the Wenas riparian area hoping the same for the Indigo Bunting before heading on to the Wenas Campground area.

Nine species new for the day were added before getting to Maloy Road with the only new one from before being a Cooper’s Hawk.  But no Chukars or Townsend Solitaire this time – so two misses.  Now at 92 species – more than seen on the entire previous trip – thanks primarily to those early Edmonds birds.

Western Tanager

Western Tanager

The Least Flycatcher was che-bekking loud and clear at Maloy Road – even had a peek-a-boo view but did not try for a photo considering myself fortunate to get one on the earlier trip.  On the way in to the Wenas Riparian area to look for the Indigo Bunting, I had a fun sighting of both an Eastern and a Western Kingbird within maybe 30 feet of each other on a wire.  Both were new for the trip and the former had not been seen on the earlier one. Now at 95 species.

Eastern and Western Kingbirds

When I got to the Indigo Bunting spot, two birders were looking into the Cottonwood where we had seen it before.  I heard it singing and with some joint effort we got decent views (No. 94).  Another birder arrived and we got him on the bird, too.  I shared directions to the Least Flycatcher, and then proceeded to the Wenas Campground.  It was pretty slow there in the rising heat of the day, but I added another 6 species for the day and had now hit that “magical 100 species”.  The only species not seen from the earlier trip was a Gray Flycatcher.  Before we had heard Red Crossbills and this time I got a photo of one – although I had misidentified it as an odd colored House Finch when I first saw it.  A pair of Black Headed Grosbeaks were particularly photo worthy

Red Crossbill

Red Crossbill


Male and Female Black Headed Grosbeaks

Black Headed Grosbeak  Black Headed Grosbeak Female

On the way back out, I stopped again for a last look at the Indigo Bunting and tried to lure it in with playback.  I was now closer to the yellow gate and could hear it singing.  No response.  On a whim, I tried the Lazuli Bunting call, and the Indigo Bunting immediately flew right at me and perched up for a good photo.  Hmmm?

Indigo Bunting

Indigo Bunting

This trip had originally had multiple goals – 100 species for the day but also importantly a try for Black Backed and Three Toed Woodpeckers at Bethel Ridge.  I had located nests for each there in years past but had seen neither this year on two tries.  Paul Baerny had both last week and I had his directions.  Brian Pendleton was already there looking for those species.  I was optimistic.  Getting there included the road past Wenas Lake and through good agricultural habitat and a stop at Oak Creek Canyon (as on the previous trip).  Surprisingly perhaps, the trip down Longmire Road produced the only Black Billed Magpie and American Kestrel of the trip.  There were Canada Geese on Wenas Lake and my only California Quail nearby plus my first Western Meadowlarks and Brewers Blackbirds.   I was now at 106 species.

At Oak Creek Canyon I got my biggest and most pleasant surprise of the trip.  About a quarter of a mile in, a medium sized flycatcher flew down form the uphill area to my right and into the canyon.  It had a grayish head with a crest, was pale yellow below with a reddish tinge to the tail and a distinct ASHY THROAT.  I saw another one later.  These were my first Ash Throated Flycatchers of the year.  They had been reported from the Canyon earlier but I had looked for them and missed them twice including on our Edmonds Goes East trip.  I figured they had departed and had no thought that I would see one – in fact stopping there only for the Lewis’s Woodpecker and a Lazuli Bunting (which I had somehow not yet found) plus a hope for White Throated Swifts – seen here on that earlier trip and maybe Canyon or Rock Wrens.  No Swifts or Wrens, but I had two Lewis’s Woodpeckers, a Lazuli Bunting and remarkably those Ash Throated Flycatchers.  Now at 109 species.

Ash Throated Flycatcher

Ash Throated Flycatcher 1

I got to Bethel Ridge much later than I had planned and should have tried earlier.  It was hot and mostly quiet.  No Black Backed Woodpecker, and unlike the previous trip – no White Headed Woodpecker.   As I got up to the area with the big burn towards the top near where the Three Toed Woodpecker had been seen, I saw a Woodpecker fly onto a tree trunk and my hopes soared.  Hard to be disappointed with a beautiful male Williamson’s Sapsucker but it had one toe too many.  Just before that I had my only Clark’s Nutcracker for the trip (and only my second of the year).

Clark’s Nutcracker

Clark's Nutcracker

Williamson’s Sapsucker

Williamson's Sapsucker

At that point I heard a familiar voice – Brian Pendleton was there with spouse Darchelle.  They had looked for hours for the Three Toed Woodpecker without success.  We joined forces and found beautiful wildflowers, views of Mt. Adams and Mt. Rainier, Hairy Woodpeckers, Rock Wren, Townsend’s Solitaire and Hermit Thrush – but no woodpeckers with three toes.

Hairy Woodpecker

Hairy Woodpecker

Townsend’s Solitaire

Townsend's Solitaire

Rock Wren

Rock Wren

Mt. Adams



The five new for the day species brought the total to 114.  Clark’s Nutcracker and Hairy Woodpecker were not seen on the previous trip.  I had seen many elk and deer throughout the day including a very clumsy elk calf.  Coming down from Bethel Ridge, I came upon two striking bull elk with sizable racks.  I checked them out and they checked me out and they kept grazing.

Elk Calf

Elk Calf1

Elk Cooling Off

Swimming Elk

Bull Elk

Big Bull Elk

Back on Highway 12 on the way home, I stopped at Trout Lodge hoping for the Black Chinned Hummingbird that had been reported from the feeders there – no luck.  Later I had a Common Merganser on the Tieton River so my “Biggish Day” total was 115 species.  Maybe some day I will try a true Big Day and add stops, limit time at various spots, bird at night and hope for great luck.  I am sure that 145 species are possible even in late June.  Probably more are possible earlier – maybe many more either time.

None of my goals are noteworthy to anyone but me but maybe my stories of attempts to reach them recall attempts to reach different goals by others.  I think in fact that it is the collecting of “stories” as much as it is the collecting of bird observations that makes birding so enjoyable to me.  My goals help organize that collecting process – give order to the pursuits.  I have now accomplished two of my Double Zero goals for the year.  I am getting closer on some others and future blog posts will recount the stories that come from those quests – whether successful or not.

Species Seen June 24, 2017
1 American Crow Edmonds 59 Red-breasted Nuthatch Bullfrog Pond
2 American Robin Edmonds 60 Red-breasted Sapsucker Bullfrog Pond
3 Bald Eagle Edmonds Marsh 61 Red-naped Sapsucker Bullfrog Pond
4 Barn Swallow Edmonds Marsh 62 Red-winged Blackbird Bullfrog Pond
5 Barred Owl Yost Park 63 Turkey Vulture Bullfrog Pond
6 Belted Kingfisher Edmonds Waterfront 64 Veery Bullfrog Pond
7 Bewick’s Wren Yost Park 65 Warbling Vireo Bullfrog Pond
8 Black-capped Chickadee RR Ponds 66 White-breasted Nuthatch Bullfrog Pond
9 Black-headed Grosbeak Wenas Riparian 67 Williamson’s Sapsucker Bullfrog Pond
10 Black Throated Gray Warbler Yost Park 68 Yellow-rumped Warbler Bullfrog Pond
11 Caspian Tern Edmonds Waterfront 69 House Finch Cle Elum
12 Common Yellowthroat Edmonds Marsh 70 House Wren RR Ponds
13 Dark-eyed Junco Edmonds 71 Pileated Woodpecker RR Ponds
14 Downy Woodpecker Edmonds Marsh 72 Purple Finch RR Ponds
15 European Starling Edmonds 73 Pygmy Nuthatch RR Ponds
16 Gadwall Edmonds Marsh 74 Bank Swallow So. Cle Elum
17 Glaucous Winged Gull Edmonds Waterfront 75 Dusky Flycatcher RR Ponds
18 Great Blue Heron Edmonds Marsh 76 Red-tailed Hawk RR Ponds
19 Heerman’s Gull Edmonds Waterfront 77 Mountain Chickadee RR Ponds
20 House Sparrow Edmonds Waterfront 78 Osprey I-90
21 Killdeer Edmonds Marsh 79 Brewer’s Sparrow Durr Road
22 Mallard Edmonds Marsh 80 Mountain Bluebird Durr Road
23 Marsh Wren Edmonds Marsh 81 Western Bluebird Durr Road
24 No. Rough-winged Swallow Edmonds Marsh 82 Sage Thrasher Durr Road
25 Pacific Wren Yost Park 83 Vesper Sparrow Durr Road
26 Pigeon Guillemot Edmonds Waterfront 84 Eurasian Collared-Dove Umptanum Road
27 Rock Pigeon Edmonds 85 Mourning Dove Umptanum Road
28 Song Sparrow Edmonds 86 Say’s Phoebe Umptanum Road
29 Spotted Towhee Edmonds 87 American Goldfinch Wenas Road
30 Steller’s Jay Yost Park 88 Calliope Hummingbird Wenas Road
31 Tree Swallow Edmonds Marsh 89 Cedar Waxwing Wenas Road
32 Violet-green Swallow Edmonds Marsh 90 Cooper’s Hawk Wenas Road
33 Virginia Rail Edmonds Marsh 91 Western Tanager Wenas Road
34 Western Wood-Pewee Yost Park 92 Yellow-breasted Chat Wenas Road
35 White-crowned Sparrow Edmonds Marsh 93 Least Flycatcher Maloy Road
36 Brown-headed Cowbird Snoqualmie 94 Eastern Kingbird Wenas Riparian
37 Chestnut-backed Chickadee Snoqualmie 95 Western Kingbird Wenas Riparian
38 Northern Flicker Snoqualmie 96 Indigo Bunting Wenas Riparian
39 Olive-sided Flycatcher Snoqualmie 97 Gray Flycatcher Wenas Campground
40 Cliff Swallow Snoqualmie 98 Pacific-slope Flycatcher Wenas Campground
41 Rufous Hummingbird Snoqualmie 99 Red Crossbill Wenas Campground
42 Swainson’s Thrush Snoqualmie 100 Bullock’s Oriole Wenas Campground
43 Townsend’s Warbler Snoqualmie 101 American Kestrel Longmire Road
44 Willow Flycatcher Snoqualmie 102 Black-billed Magpie Longmire Road
45 Yellow Warbler Snoqualmie 103 Brewer’s Blackbird Longmire Road
46 Pine Siskin Snoqualmie 104 California Quail Longmire Road
47 Anna’s Hummingbird Hyak Feeders 105 Western Meadowlark Longmire Road
48 Common Raven Hyak Feeders 106 Canada Goose Wenas Lake
49 Nashville Warbler Hyak Feeders 107 Ash-throated Flycatcher Oak Creek Canyon
50 Evening Grosbeak Hyak Feeders 108 Lazuli Bunting Oak Creek Canyon
51 American Dipper Bullfrog Pond 109 Lewis’s Woodpecker Oak Creek Canyon
52 Brown Creeper Bullfrog Pond 110 Clark’s Nutcracker Bethel Ridge
53 Cassin’s Finch Bullfrog Pond 111 Hairy Woodpecker Bethel Ridge
54 Cassin’s Vireo Bullfrog Pond 112 Hermit Thrush Bethel Ridge
55 Chipping Sparrow Bullfrog Pond 113 Rock Wren Bethel Ridge
56 Gray Catbird Bullfrog Pond 114 Townsend’s Solitaire Bethel Ridge
57 Hammond’s Flycatcher Bullfrog Pond 115 Varied Thrush Bethel Ridge
58 MacGillivray’s Warbler Bullfrog Pond 116 Common Merganser Tieton River

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