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North Fork Wenas Creek, Wenas Wildlife Area
June 2016


Synopsis
It’s no wonder the Wenas Wildlife Area is taken by storm over the Memorial Day weekend by birders across the state. The birding is fantastic in the campground and local surrounding areas. Plus taking over the campground and traveling as a large pack of innocuous birders tends to flush away the ATVer, hunters and other people who in the area to screw around. We did not partake in the Wenas Campout with all the other birders, but visited at the end of June.

Located on Hog Ranch Road right off of the North Fork Wenas Road, the campground itself was somewhat ill-defined - a large open area under the open Ponderosa Forest and spilling to the riparian edge of Wenas Creek. There were other campers in the area, but there was plenty of space to spread out and maintain some privacy. Driving to the Wenas campground (not sure if that’s even an official name for the area) is a tad bit bumpy, but doable in a passenger car if you go slow enough. The roads beyond the campground - the ones that go up to the ridges are harrowing - and require high clearance and 4-wheel drive.

Even a month after the Wenas Campout, the birding was great - many singing Veerys, Red Crossbills, Gray Flycatchers, MacGillivray’s Warblers, Western Wood-Pewees and Cassin’s Finches throughout the campground. In the evening as the sun began to wane, we were treated the the aerial acrobatics of many Common Nighthawks over the forest.

We spent the day hiking a long route along the roads in the area. We followed the North Fork Wenas Road and climbed up Hudson Road to where it wrapped around along Manastash Ridge then dropped back down off the ridge to North Fork Wenas Road. It was long and some what strenuous hike, especially given how rocky, steep, and uncomfortable it is to hike along some of parts of the road. North Fork Wenas Road was the most productive in terms of birds. The road followed along Wenas Creek - the riparian area thick with aspen and bog meadows bordered with Ponderosa and Doug Firs. Townsend’s Solitaire and Cassin’s Vireos called from the trees while the creek happily burbled and rushed over rock and roots. Away from the Wenas campground, there were many more dispersed campsites long the North Fork Wenas Road accessible by passenger car. Onto Hudson Road, the road climbed up and away from the creek through open dry grass meadows filled with yellow desert daisies and rock gardens full of blooming tapertip onions. Along the ridge we were treated to views of the Wenas Valley below and Yakima far off in the distance. Toward the west was a view of the snow capped Cascades. The descent back down to North Fork Wenas Road was not very pleasant on the knees or feet. The road was worn away to large slopes of sharp rocks. Going up and down Hudson Road would have been a much better option both for the interesting environment and for saving knees.

So long as you’re prepared to share the area with ATVs and the occasional gun shots, the North Fork Wenas Creek area has great opportunities for camping, birding, nature viewing and hiking.

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Pictures (click on thumbnail to enlarge)
















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Bird List
Ruffed Grouse
2
flushed one, heard one
Sooty Grouse
1
heard
Great Blue Heron
1
Turkey Vulture
1
Accipiter sp.
1
either Northern Goshawk or Coopers
Red-tailed Hawk
1
Mourning Dove
1
Western Screech-Owl
1
heard
Common Nighthawk
11
many flying in the evening
Black-chinned Hummingbird
2
Rufous Hummingbird
3
Belted Kingfisher
4
family
Lewis's Woodpecker
1
Red-naped Sapsucker
4
Downy Woodpecker
3
Hairy Woodpecker
2
Northern Flicker
3
American Kestrel
1
Western Wood-Pewee
10
Willow Flycatcher
2
Gray Flycatcher
6
Dusky Flycatcher
2
Pacific-slope Flycatcher
2
Eastern Kingbird
1
Cassin's Vireo
4
Warbling Vireo
3
Steller's Jay
1
Common Raven
2
Violet-green Swallow
3
Mountain Chickadee
6
Red-breasted Nuthatch
2
White-breasted Nuthatch
4
House Wren
2
Western Bluebird
2
Mountain Bluebird
3
Townsend's Solitaire
4
Veery
10
many calling and singing throughout the day
American Robin
12
Gray Catbird
1
Cedar Waxwing
3
Nashville Warbler
4
MacGillivray's Warbler
2
Yellow Warbler
7
Yellow-rumped Warbler
4
Chipping Sparrow
10
Lark Sparrow
4
Dark-eyed Junco
8
Song Sparrow
2
Spotted Towhee
2
Western Tanager
8
Black-headed Grosbeak
5
Western Meadowlark
1
Brown-headed Cowbird
4
Cassin's Finch
12
Red Crossbill
10
Pine Siskin
2
American Goldfinch
1
Evening Grosbeak
3
Other critters
Mule deer
Coyote
California Ground squirrel
Douglas Squirrel
Golden-manteled squirrel
Chipmunk
western fence lizard
butterflies
fritilliary
checkerspot
western tiger swallow
great arctic
Flowers in bloom
Green-banded mariposa lily
pine drop
wild mountain mint
dog bane
large-flowered collomia
tall meadow larkspur
matted cryptantha
alfalfa
great northern aster
sticky geranium
tall buckwheat
lewis's monkeyflower
yarrow
seep spring monkeyflower
self-heal
birchleaf spiraea
harsh paintbrush
oregon sunshine
yellow desert daisy
chelan penstemon
woodrush pussytoes
tapertip onion
scarlet gila
northen desert buckwheat
fan-leaf cinquefoil
large-leaf lupine
dwarf larkspur
dusty maiden
curve-leaf stonecrop
fescue sandwort
oregon catchfly
white-veined wintergreen
streambank globemallow

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Information
Discover Pass required
Green Dot Map: pdf

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page updated: 8/7/16