Our Seattle Audubon field trip group encountered at least a dozen Swainson’s Hawks circling, pouncing on, and eating voles in an actively mowed alfalfa field just east of Ellensburg this Sunday. All three morphs gathered overhead to follow the mowing machine and capture rodents as they became exposed to view.
We had very close looks from the side of the highway (Old Vantage Hwy) just outside of town.
It was part of a long, birdy trip (365 miles) sampling Eastern Washington highlights with 11 birders. Master Birders Jeanelle Richardson and Sarah Safranek helped me lead the trip again, which Jim Owens and I started offering each spring in 2011.
Despite the timing, later than usual, all 20 stops had great birds, about 100 species. No Burrowing Owls or Long-billed Curlews, sadly.