It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Bird AND a Plane!

I’ve been sorting Grand Coulee trip photos in between doing other necessary things. B’s working on your next Christianist education post, and I’m working on our new pyrite article. Alas, neither will be ready in time for this morning, so I shall tide you over with some more outtakes. Gives me an excuse to post them, doesn’t it just?

While we were at Frenchman Coulee, checking out the ginormous erratics on Babcock Bench, a gigantic plane flew overhead. Okay, maybe not that gigantic, but it was pretty big compared to the usual size of low-flying planes we see.

Image shows a jet plane with four rather large engines.
Yep. Definitely a plane.

A nice gentleman who was reading his book nearby told us what it was, but I’ve already forgotten. One of you probably knows, though!

It’s definitely military. I mean, look at this profile.

Another image shows the crook in the back that leads to its tail. It looks a little like a whale to me.
Now you can see the upsweep in its tail.

It lazily crossed the sky, and caught the sun before vanishing into the distance.

The plane has turned a bit, and the sun is striking highlights off its top.

So that was nice. Especially since it didn’t drop anything on us.

One of the themes of this trip was ravens. Enormous ones. Soaring like raptors on thermals, in fact.

Image shows a bit of fluffy white cloud at the bottom, lotsa blue sky all round, and a soaring raven that looks like a raptor in the distance.
Soaring through the air up there. Bonus points to anyone who can catch the reference.

This one was swooping over Babcock Bench, and seemed entirely happy about it. I swear it was showing off to us.

Image shows the cliffs of Frenchman Coulee and the long, flat expanse of Babcock Bench, covered in sagebrush. There is a huge raven flying over it.
I had no idea ravens could look so majestic.

Later, it swooped by on our other side, and I got some closer-up pics of it, but alas it was moving too fast for the camera to get a good focus.

Image shows the raven skimming the sky like an eagle.
“‘I want to fly like an eagle, to the sea’ – wait, no, maybe not that far…”

Maclargehuge ravens were all over the place. The desert breeds ’em big. Of course, all that delicious farmland around probably doesn’t hurt anything.

Let us proceed to the next day, when we visited Summer Falls. I saw a wee birdie sitting on a wooden water spigot. It looked so Americana I just had to take a photo, even though I was all the way across the park from it. Happily, my camera rose to the challenge.

Image shows a wooden beam with a water spigot in it sticking up from a grassy lawn. Longer grass is growing around its base. A gray bird is sitting serenely atop it. In the background, you can see the sage-covered, steep hillside.
Idyllic scene, ur doin it rite.

Do zoom in on that bird, it’s lovely. You’ll probably tell me it’s an American Robin.

There you are, my darlings, some of the interesting and wonderful things and beings we saw. I shall have more for you shortly. And it looks like B and I will be risking a Mount St. Helens trip despite the questionable weather, so hopefully I’ll have some new volcano bits for you in a few days! If not, surely you’ll love getting some gold, right?

It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Bird AND a Plane!

15 thoughts on “It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s a Bird AND a Plane!

  1. rq

    Well, my first instinct was to say those don’t look like raven. Maybe the first, but not the second (with the Bench) – look at the wingtips and the way the feathers curl up (I’m sure there’s a term for it), that doesn’t say ‘raven’ to me. But. I looked some others up, and they are very raptor-like in silhouette.
    And no, it’s not an American robin. :D Though I’m not sure what it is. Small raptor-type bird, I would guess. Dunno what’s common around there.

  2. 3

    Doesn’t look very raven-ish to me, either. I’d say some large raptor, maybe even a Golden Eagle.
    The other bird – Northern Shrike, maybe? A bit out of it’s breeding range, though.

  3. 8

    Indeed it is.
    There’s a very large, but largely unused, airport at nearby Moses Lake. Used to be a USAF base. Boeing used to use it for training/testing but have largely closed down that operation now. Japan Airlines actually kept a 747 there just to use for crew training. So most likely the C17 was there training as well. The advantage of the location is, of course, that it’s in a desert the weather is usually clear. Unlike here on the other side of the mountains.

    Off to look at the birdy pictures now.

  4. 9

    Sorry, no. It’s much too small. Compare it to the water spigot. The bird is no more than four or five inches beak-to-tail. I’d guess it’s a swallow, based on the slight vee to the tail.

    Not sure about the big soaring one, but I think I favor Dana’s ID of a raven. They’re pretty huge.

  5. 10

    My hypotheses (and supporting evidence):

    The soaring bird is a raven; its tail is too pointy for any raptor that I can think of.

    The bird perched on the spigot is a grey jay. Other similar birds are loggerhead and northern shrikes and Clark’s nutcracker. The former two have black masks, grey heads, and white wing bars, which this guy doesn’t. Nutcrackers also have completely grey heads.

    I don’t know how to identify airplanes.

  6. 11

    Agree with the raven, the pointy/curved tail looks right. Spigot bird, however, is much smaller than a gray jay. Look at the spigot. That knob is only about 1.5 inches in diameter. It’s a LITTLE bird.

  7. 12

    Agree with the raven too, we have lots of them here in the high Mojave desert. The jet is also right, a Globemaster III. Had one fly over my school as I was leaving a few months ago, landing at the USMC combat center airfield near us. Quiet for a plane that big.

  8. 14

    I’d say the gray back with slightly darker head and tail mark the spigot bird as a Say’s Phoebe. It clearly isn’t a Gray Jay with that dark head, and an American Kestrel would have a bright rusty tail.

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