Day 2 in Walla Walla I arrived at Bennignton Lake early enough to see the sky full of stars and to hear a Great Horned Owl pair hooting, “Who’s awake? Me toooo.”
The trail system is fantastic. 20 miles wind through 600 acres of woodlands and meadows surrounding the lake. The lake was set up by the US Army Corps of Engineers for flood control in the 1940s.
One section of trail is referred to as “owl alley” by local Audubon members because of the frequent owl sightings. I was hoping to find one or two. Upon researching, I learned long-eared owls nest in the park and there were recent ebird sightings, “one did not flush and sat nicely for great views!” I could only imagine.
I saw Killdeer on the lake shore, and mergansers and geese on the lake. In the hardwood forests Downy Woodpeckers and Northern Flickers were busy collecting insects. Dark-eyed Juncos, White-crowned Sparrow, and Bewick’s Wrens were singing their hearts out. Does this mean it’s spring already?
I saw the Mountain Chickadee sporting the white eye-stripe!
And the Northern Harrier hunting, as per usual.
I found a row of pines that looked pretty owly. Sure enough, pellets, bones, and whitewash littered the ground.
But, alas, no owls were home. Or if they were, they were invisible. That’s probably more like it. Still, it felt good to practice tracking skills.
Upon leaving the park, I saw a Townsend’s Solitaire absorbing BTUs from a solar panel.
Then I heard a soft, faint hooting. I was all over it and scoured the trees until I found them.
Yeah! Two Great Horned Owls! (One in the lower left). These must be the two I heard earlier near the parking lot when I arrived. Good times at the lake.
On the drive home I got some good looks of my other bird love (and last year’s obsession), the Western Meadowlark.
And just because, I made a quick stop at Balch Lake, past Lyle, Washington. The lake provides habitat for the protected pond turtle, and is also home to dozens of Lewis’s Woodpeckers!
These fellas are highly entertaining and I’d recommend checking out this site for some great looks. I’ve heard there is also an Acorn Woodpecker granary nearby, but I’ve yet to find it. Yet.
Can’t get enough!
Tweets and chirps,