Another Northeast Washington trip report

Ryan Shaw rtshaw80 at home.com
Tue Jul 3 13:08:01 PDT 2001


Hi Tweets,

I spent the weekend birding Northeast Washington with my girlfriend in
pursuit of several target species I was lacking on my state list, and just
to get out into one of my favorite zones of the state.  My girlfriend isn't
a birder, so I couldn't go gangbusters the whole time trying to turn up all
the birds I could, but instead we took a nice leisurly pace throughout
Saturday, Sunday, and Monday in Pend Oreille and Okanogan Counties.

After spending the night in Spokane on Friday night, we got up to Leclerc
Creek Road at about 7:30AM, basically doing Richard Rowlett's route on that
particular road (didn't have time to get to Kalispell Lake).

My first stop in hopes of getting my first target bird was at Panhandle
Campground on the Pend Oreille river.  And I got that bird, a singing female
AMERICAN REDSTART, not really a new state bird as I heard one or two birds
last year at Fortson Mills but never saw them.  In fact, this was the first
time I had ever seen a Redstart, so a pseudo-stater/lifer.  Also singing
like crazy in this area were WARBLING VIREOS, RED-EYED VIREOS, and NASHVILLE
WARBLERS. An angry RED SQUIRREL was barking at me, trying to convince me to
leave the vicinity.

CASSIN'S VIREOS were singing in more appropriate habitat (Doug Firs).  Oh
my!  3 Vireo species in the same vicinity!  Am I in Washington! ;-) A
cooperative SNOWSHOE HARE gave us a nice look on the side of the road
aswell.

Heard more Redstarts and several NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH along the road.
Dipped out on Richard's Clay-colored Sparrow (one of my targets and a
nemesis bird for me in Washington).

The end of the Leclerc Road with Sullivan Lake road was alive with birds.
Several MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLERS were chipping and singing at this location.

Sullivan Lake had 1 RED-NECKED GREBE on the south side, and lots of RED
CROSSBILLS throughout the firs and larches.  SPOTTED SANDPIPERS were common
around many lakes throughout the trip.

The main draw to this area was Salmo Mountain, especially after reading Andy
Stepniewski's trip report from a few weeks back.  So we promptly headed all
the way up to the top with two goal birds in mind:  White-winged Crossbill
and Pine Grosbeak.  The road up to Salmo was pretty driveable by any vehicle
I would say.  I have a Honda Accord and its pretty low clearance, and the
only area I had to take it really easy was at the summit of Salmo.

What a gorgeous area this place is!  It was very clear and we could see
forever from this 6800 foot peak.  Montana was even within sight from this
vantage point.  Not much birdlife at the summit, some RED CROSSBILLS flew
over and a TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE was singing, but no White-winged Crossbills
or Pine Grosbeaks.  A very inquisitive COLUMBIAN GROUNDSQUIRREL kept us
interested for a while though, and we just brought the chairs out and spent
some time relaxing and enjoying the beautiful scenery around us.

We drove down from the summit and camped just south of the road junction.
After a breif nap, I woke up to the singing of Pine Grosbeak.  I search and
search and finally find the songster, a female on the top of a spruce.
State bird!  I saw a few in BC earlier this year, so I was hoping that since
I had the lifer jinx over with, that this bird would fall of my wanted list.
I heard another one later that day, but that was it with the grosbeak show.
Heard some Evening Grosbeaks earlier in the day aswell.

RED CROSSBILLS were around like crazy, must have seen around 300, but no
White-wings in with them.  One to put on the shelf for winter I guess.  Also
had a GRAY JAY and STELLER'S JAY at camp, singing YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLERS,
and a life mammal, RED-TAILED CHIPMUNK.  (though I had hopes in the back of
my head for Lynx, Cougar, Caribou, or a far-away glimpse of Gray
Wolf/Grizzly Bear, but this fantasy would not come to be).

The next morning we headed down the mountain and stopped at the State Park
on the north side of Sullivan Lake.  Here we had a few more Redstarts, and a
RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER.
We then proceeded to Okanogan County and set up camp at Beth/Beaver Lake.
We walked the lake trail and had a few broods of HOODED MERGANSER, several
RED-NECKED GREBES, an AMERICAN WIGEON brood, surprisingly to me, both
GOLDENEYE species, many BLACK TERNS, and several WILLOW FLYCATCHERS calling
like mad.  Also, at Highland Sno Park, we had several drumming WILLIAMSON'S
SAPSUCKERS and HAIRY WOODPECKERS, a few Snipe, GREAT HORNED OWLS, and two
species of unidentified bats (one was quite large, about the size of a
Nighthawk, which we also had several of in the vicinity).

Had about a 4-1 ratio of EASTERN KINGBIRDS to WESTERN KINGBIRDS in Okanogan
County, 1 LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE, and 3 SWAINSON'S HAWKS were seen along the
fields of Tonasket-Havillah Road.  Many places in this area looked quite
good to stop and spend some time around, but that will have to be next time
when its strictly a birding trip.

We did stop at Cameron Lake Road on the way back yesterday, highlights were;
Ponderosa Pine area:
	Gray Flycatcher, White-headed Woodpecker, Pygmy Nuthatch, Cassin's vireo
Sage Area:
	Sage Thrasher, Vesper Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow
Bunchgrass Area:
	Grasshopper Sparrow
encountered most of the same waterfowl that the Sullivans did in their
previous post, so won't repeat that.  Looked breifly for their Clay-colored
Sparrow aswell, but no luck.

Well I'm off to finish packing, I'm leaving for Southern California
tommorrow for some birding in the desert, then doing seabird censusing
offshore of San Diego for 16 days with CalCofi, then its off to SE AZ for
4-5 days before 5 other buds of mine and myself head into Mexico for 3
fun-filled weeks of birding the tropics.  Only drawback is...I have to
drive. (I'm the oldest of the six of us, 21, and since you have to be 25 to
rent a car that option is gone.  So Roadtrip!
See ya'll in September and don't find too many rarities while I'm gone ;-)

Cheers and Good Birding
Ryan Shaw - Lacey
rtshaw80 at home.com
I can possibly be reached into late july on my AOL address, rtshaw80 at aol.com



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