Douglas Creek, Waterville, WA
We went to
However, we were pleasantly surprised when we arrived. We drove into the north entrance of
The canyon is surrounded by flat farmland; while driving along the dirt road by acres and acres of open fields, we flushed many Horned Larks. The road eventually dipped into the canyon and we were soon surrounded by rocky cliffs and sagebrush. There were three campsites along the road between the Douglas Creek Trailhead and a section of road that was covered a large amount of water (caused by the very active beavers).
Along the road there are obvious signs of use (and abuse) trash left in the campgrounds. The trail was cleaner fewer beer cans and spent shot guns shells. We did see signs of a motorbike and ATV on the trail (no off-road vehicles are permitted along the trail). Other than those signs the north end was in relatively good shape.
We took the campsite closest to the trailhead there was only one other group in the canyon the entire time we were there. During our stay, it was very peaceful and quite well except for the cacophony of birdcalls.
The canyon was well used by birds and wildlife. Pacific tree frogs ribbited loudly in the evenings. In the morning and evenings, birds dazzled us with their courtship displays. One evening, we saw two Great Horned Owls in the sky flying around each other continuously in tight circles. They silently flew over our heads in circles continuing up into the sky until we could hardly see them. I’ve never seen owls do this before and felt privileged to witness what I assumed was an act of courtship. In The Sibley Guide to Bird Life & Behavior book, he says that not a lot is know about owl courtship other than vocally so I can only guess this was what I was seeing.
Another courtship/territorial display we saw was a male Northern Harrier flying/guiding in “u” shaped swoops in a straight line fairly low over the creek. At the top of the “u” while going into another dive, the harrier would do a complete roll/flip in the air. He also called as he went along. The harrier did this about 7-8 times before he went out of view. It was a very acrobatic and graceful display.
We were also fortunate to see two Prairie Falcons along the cliffs of
Though a lot more common, the Northern Flickers were also very active along the creek. They would fly from tree to tree following/chasing each other while calling all the time. There were many pairs along the creek doing this.
The riparian area along the creek would be an excellent stop for migratory birds; unfortunately we were too early to see the migrants, as well as too early to see the wildflowers in bloom. We saw less than a handful of different flowers species in bloom, but we could see the plants well on their way to provide for a fantastic display in the late spring.
Besides all the wildlife,
There was one crossing where Duffy Creek meets
After that crossing,
On the way home, we stopped at
I also saw the typical shrub-steppe dwelling birds: Sage Thrasher, Loggerhead Shrike, Western Meadowlark, Vesper’s Sparrow, and Horned Lark. It was a treat to see them in a more preserved/pristine part of the arid dry lands.
Prairie Falcon - pair calling on cliff side & mating
Rough-legged Hawk - 1 flying overhead
Northern Harrier - territorial display
Virginia Rail - heard only
Great Horned Owl - bonding ritual
Western Screech Owl - heard only
White-throated Swift - nesting in cavities in cliff
Rock Wren - heard only
Townsend's Solitaire - 1
Other Critter List
Beaver - many dam along creek
bat sp. - one brushed my hair
Bureau of Land Management