After three plus hours at Cold Springs National Wildlife Refuge I decided I’d taken all the pictures I wanted of the birds that were there and no new birds seemed to be coming in. It was only a little after noon, though, and I was in no rush to get back to Yakima. So I decided to push the “Geographic Points” button on my new Garmin GPS and see what showed up nearby. When I saw that a unit of the Umatilla National Wildlife Refuge was close, I decided to take a look.
As it turned out, that was the luckiest choice of my vacation. I got more pictures in Umatilla than in all the rest of my trip. I started with the driving tour of the area but didn’t see many birds. While walking one area and taking pictures of the trees, though, I noticed a Great Egret fly overhead toward the Columbia River and then another.
It seemed clear they must be coming from a pond that wasn’t on the “tour.” After a little walking I realized they were coming from the area designated as “hunting blinds.” Since it wasn’t yet duck season, and since there were no cars in any of the parking lots, I decided to check out the hunting blinds.
It really didn’t surprise me when I found that the best birding was to be found in the hunting blinds. After walking a half mile or so, I climbed up into a blind and looked over the vegetation to see a large pond filled with thousands of birds,
the most obvious being a small flock of White Pelicans.
As soon as I stood up, though, the closest birds took off, first ducks then this Cormorant.
The Pelicans, unlike the ducks, didn’t seem to be in any hurry to take off. This large Pelican must have stuck around another half hour.
And by that time a small flock of Long-Billed Dowitchers flew in
apparently indifferent to me and my camera, wandering closer and closer the longer I stayed.
Of course, by the time I’d discovered this bonanza the light was fading and I had to get back to Yakima before it was dark if I wanted a camping spot. Next time I visit the area I’ll be sure to check here first.