I just got back from the annual Wenas Audubon campout held over memorial weekend in the Wenas Valley of Yakima County. We enjoyed many of the regular species that make the campout so special, like very nice views of Veery, White-headed Woodpecker and Yellow-breasted Chat, as well as hearing a Flammulated Owl and two Western Screech-Owls. However, my highlight of the trip came at the very beginning, on Saturday morning.
As I was driving into the campsite with my windows rolled down, I heard an unexpected but unmistakable warbler song, like a rusty wheel spinning, coming from the riparian forest at the confluence of Dry Creek and Wenas Creek. With the sound of my running engine, the nearby streams and especially all the off-road recreational vehicles passing by, such a high-pitched song could have easily been missed. But I passed by at just the right moment while listening closely, and pulled over immediately. Sure enough, a bit of bushwhacking revealed a male BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER singing and foraging in the cottonwoods!
This find was a literal dream come true for me, and funnily enough, I had just been looking at spring sightings of the species in the state on eBird a day or two earlier. Many of the camp participants were able to enjoy the warbler (though refinding it visually in the riparian was often a challenge) up until about 3 PM, when it fell silent. Unfortunately, with clear overnight weather it appeared to have been gone by Sunday.
I’ll soon be back to my college campus, where I won’t be able to bird again until mid-June. But the campout was a welcome respite with a special surprise!
Good birding, Joshua Glant
Mercer Island, WA
P.S. A complete anecdote, but a funny coincidence. A search of the Tweeters Archive revealed that in November 1999, a birder sent a message expressing their surprise at finding two Black-and-White Warblers earlier in the day at Two Rivers County Park in Kennewick, when there had only been one previously reported. About 30 seconds after the message’s time stamp, I was born with my twin brother! Auspicious? Maybe!