Costco Pond – Cedar Waxwings

Probably not a big deal for a regular birder, but I have always had a hard time with these waxwings.  Costco Pond never ceases to amaze me with the variety of birds and other animals that hang out there.  That is,  in a large part due to the undisturbed swampy forest next door.  Only a few acres, but it gives birds, squirrels and rabbits a place to hide when it gets too crowded.  Frequently you will see a red tailed hawk hanging out on the lamp post adjacent to the pond, probably looking for the same thing I am, only they don’t need a camera.  

The first one is not a Cedar Waxwing but it was too cute to pass up;  a baby robin, watching me and thinking about flying, and wondering if he is old enough yet. hahaha

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I have been watching the new building go up at the corner of Ahtanum Road and Longfibre Road for the past several months.  It is down right close to my favorite bird watching pond here in Yakima.  I have been hoping it would be a nice quiet business.

I drove by the building a couple of days ago and noticed the signage.  Seems the Department of Ecology put up the building.    Oh well, I am sure they filed an environmental impact statement.   Oh yeah, and they can approve it at the same time.  hahahaha  Seems reasonable. 


Easy Prey

I found this juvenile  red tailed hawk hanging out on Valley Mall Blvd. near the airport.  Had to stop and take a quick picture or two, it is hard for me to pass up an opportunity to picture a hawk.  After a few minutes, a little bird came out of nowhere and tried to run him off.

It looked like a swallow just playing around at first, then he got serious.  Turns out it was a mature Kestrel.

I got the impression that a “little” grown up bird can actually intimidate a juvenile “big bird”.

The kestrel took a couple of short breaks, but in the end, the juvenile red tailed hawk decided enough was enough.

You can see from the last photograph that the kestrel was truly remorseful about the whole incident.



Hard work, taking a break.
Hard work, taking a break.

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Too close for comfort.
Too close for comfort.

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Dive bomber mode.
Dive bomber mode.


What is that??
What is that??

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I feel so bad, having chased on that young whipper snapper.  But, he was bigger than me....hahahaha

I feel so bad, having chased on that young whipper snapper. But, he was bigger than me….hahahahahawk56

My Favorite Duck Pond

As I was leaving Costco pond yesterday, I noticed a bird zooming around back and forth over the pond like a chicken hawk.  After a dozen or so trips over the pond, he landed on the opposite side.  I finally got a quick shot of him from a distance.  At first glance I thought he might have been a hawk looking for a quick duck dinner.  Seems he was just a thirsty Rock Pigeon.  (in my opinion)

It was about 94 degrees at the time.

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2nd Update on red tailed hawk youngster

I took another quick trip this morning  by the “hawk tree” and found the little guy out of his nest.  He has his head twisted around so he could keep an eye on me.   Seems like a pretty small head for a growing bird, and most of that is beak.  I reckon that’s the way it’s supposed to be.  Gary

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Update on baby red tailed hawk

It has been a couple of months now since I first discovered this little Red Tailed Hawk off Ahtaneum Road.  He has grown a lot, the first time I posted him, he was barely peeking out of the nest and his head was about the size of a grape.   The feathers on his legs make him like a cowboy wearing chaps.  There were no leaves on the tree back then, so it is a bit more difficult to get a picture now.  That and it was about 90 degrees today.  Give him another month or two and he will be on his maiden voyage,


Gary W


Without the Zoom lense
Without the Zoom lense

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Eastern Washington

Just a quick trip looking for birds to photograph, and casing the area to find a place to camp in the days ahead.  The birds were scarce, except for a couple of red tailed hawks that kept circling the area and screeching.  There must have been a hawk’s nest in the area, as hawks on the prowl don’t generally screech like that.  I think they were trying to scare us off.  I am sure it scared most of the birds I was looking for.

Even the squirrel was hanging out pretty close to his hole beneath a tree.    The weather changed and it got chilly pretty quick.   Great scenery and habitat for a wide variety of birds.   A good, fun day.


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White Crowned Sparrows

Lately it seems we have an abundance of White Crown Sparrows at the feeders and in the yard.  Up until a couple of months ago, I rarely got the opportunity to take a picture of one.  Now, they are pretty much taking over from the Finches and House Sparrows.  As Spock would say, they seem to have the multiplicative proclivities of the Belgian Hare.  They even socialize with the occasional dove that feeds in the yard.


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The Tailings Pond at Climax

You couldn’t have lived in Climax long without making mention of the tailings pond, the mineral waste from the mine at Climax.  For a boy in the 1950’s, it was a great source of entertainment.  You could run and jump off the white cliffs and land in soft tailings.  You could pretty much get lost on the tailings pond and pretend you were on the Sahara desert for a few hours.  As fun as it was, it tasted like hell, kind of an acid taste to it.  

On my 17th birthday in 1960 I went to work for the Climax Molybdenum Company.  My first job was working on the tailings pond.   The pay was good, about $2.75 an hour if memory serves me.  I worked the entire summer of 1960 on the pond, and never missed a shift, until the last day before I had to go back to school.  It wss Labor Day and I was scheduled to work the swing shift.  It was a double-time shift due to the holiday.   I fully intended to work the shift.  I arrived at the tailings dam site, about a mile from Climax, just before day shift ended, I met with the day shift tailings operator for a turn over.  He was a young married man with kids.  To make a long story short, he offered me $25.00 not to go to work.  That put him in the position of working a double shift on a holiday, which paid him triple time for my shift.

How could I turn it down, it was the last day before I had to go back to school, and there were girls at the Rec Hall that could use the extra attention.  Ironically, when I went to the Rec Hall that night I ran into my shift boss.  His name was Sandy, those who have worked there probably know who he was.  At any rate the next day he relayed that information to my father, who in turn relayed it to me.  I think what troubled him most was how I could work all summer, never miss a shift and then dump the best paying shift of the summer.  I could offer no explanation.

The picture below shows the old tailing pond with an old wood stave pipeline used to deliver the waste to the head of the tailings dam.


This one shows the pipeline over the front of the dam.  The waste was released over the face of the dam and the water ran back into a man made chemical lake where it was drawn off into a riser in the center of the dam and recycled at Climax.  One man on our crew every day walked the pipeline from Climax to the tailing dam.  He generally carried a nap sack of wedges, a hammer, a putty knife and a bag of oakum.  It was a nice morning walk, generally on top of the pipeline, which was about 36″ in diameter and on stilts a good part of the way.

The pipeline was pretty high pressure, and the material it carried was a combination of water and a finely ground sand, waste refuse left over after the extraction of molybdenum.  Your job was to look for leaks, and when found, generally on the wood bands around the pipe you plugged them with wood wedges.  To plug small leaks, you used an Oakum Poker, to drive the oakum into the cracks.  To this day, I still refer to a putty knife as an Oakum Poker.

The only down side of that particular job as far as I was concerned was cosmetic.  I spent a good part of that summer getting a tan.   Anytime you wore a short sleeved shirt and plugged a hole with oakum, you could bet the pressurized sand would wipe it out in a few seconds, just like a sand blaster.


From this angle you can see the old Glory Hole at Climax with the town just below there.  There were a few old studs sticking out of the tailings pond and the rumor among my friends is that the town of Robinson was buried underneath it from tailings dumped years before.  I suspect it is true, as the town of Kokomo, Colorado, which was a few miles down the hill from Climax is buried under tailing today.

Kokomo was a neat old town in the 1950’s.  It boasted a post office, Masonic Lodge, and the Kokomo Bar and Grill, which made the best hamburgers this side of Leadville.  Our family celebrated my parents 25th wedding anniversary at the Kokomo Bar and Grill.

There were actually a few residents in Kokomo, although I would guess less than a dozen.  The hills around Kokomo had many old mine portals that were fun to explore as a kid.  Some still had the old railroad tracks coming out of the mines, and a few old ore cars.  It was great.