Fw: [inland-NW-birders] WOS Boreal Owl Trip

Charles Swift charless at moscow.com
Tue Sep 24 08:45:23 PDT 2002

----- Original Message -----
From: "gina sheridan" <gsherida8502 at yahoo.com>
To: <inland-nw-birders at uidaho.edu>
Cc: <ronpatdex at juno.com>; <Birders13 at aol.com>; <Jessebirder at aol.com>;
<audell at evansville.net>
Sent: Sunday, September 22, 2002 10:31 PM
Subject: [inland-NW-birders] WOS Boreal Owl Trip

> Over the weekend, Mark Houston lead eight WOS

> affiliated birders up to Pass Creek Pass. Our primary

> query was Boreal Owl.


> Before the official start of the WOS trip, Joyce

> Alonso and I kicked around for a while up at

> Bunchgrass Meadows. We saw several Clark's

> Nutchackers, Red Crossbills, Sharp-Shinned Hawk, and

> Mt. Chickadees. However, we couldn't relocate the

> Boreal Chickadees that I had seen a couple of weeks

> previously.


> After joining up with Mark and the other intrepid

> birders, we hiked up the ridge through dense

> coniferous forest. After reaching our turn around

> point (2.7 miles from the parking lot), we watched the

> harvest moon rise above the mountains in the east. We

> began playing the owl tape and listening for a

> response.


> On the more moonlit side of the ridge, we failed to

> obtain any response. However, on the lee side of the

> ridge, we heard an eerie call that sounded like a

> boreal. We shined our lights down slope toward the

> calling bird, but didn't see anything. Suddenly, we

> heard the calls again up slope from our party. Mark's

> mega-bright light finally illuminated a BOREAL OWL

> that was sitting about fifteen feet up in a spruce

> tree. All nine of us stared in awe at the sight of a

> highly cooperative Boreal Owl that deinged to show us

> all of its lovely field marks (e.g. straw colored

> bill, black frame markings around the face, white

> spotting on the head, etc.). To the naked eye, the

> bird looked like a light gray puffball sitting in a

> tree. Before it finally flew off, it sat there for at

> least a couple of minutes. This is just the was the

> way I love to see a life bird.


> Farther down the trail we heard a couple more Boreals,

> but we never saw them. None of us were complaining

> though!


> Since Joyce and I spent the night in a motel in

> Metalline Falls, we had an hours drive back to Pass

> Creek Pass the next morning. The first bird of

> interest for the morning was a NORTHERN GOSHAWK. The

> Gos streaked in front of us and dipped back into the

> dark forest. As we drove along Pass Creek, we saw a

> pair of Ruffed Grouse in the road.


> About half way up, we encountered a medium size mammal

> in the road. It was a fairly slender animal with dark

> brown fur with lighter highlights around the head and

> rather bushy tail. This was a FISHER! The Fisher cut

> back behind the bend of the road and disappeared. We

> couldn't relocate it, but this was a wonderful life

> mammal for us.


> As we approached to within a mile of the rendezvous

> point, Joyce and I saw a male SPRUCE GROUSE in the

> road. We watched it at point blank range while it

> pecked in the gravel for several minutes. Finally, we

> had to press onward. The grouse flushed and landed in

> a Western Redcedar and watched us go by. This was a

> state lifer for me.


> Mark led our group up the trail to Mankato Mountain.

> We looked in vain for Boreal Chickadee in appropriate

> habitat. We did run across a couple of immature GOLDEN

> CROWNED SPARROWS amongst small numbers of

> White-Crowned Sparrows. Some of the other birds of the

> day included a second NO. Goshawk, Mt. Bluebirds,

> Hermit Thrush, Varied Thrush, and Gray & Stellars

> Jays. Joyce and I saw a couple more Ruffed Grouse (one

> in a large elderberry bush and another road side

> bird)in route back to Ione.


> Although we didn't see any Broad-Winged Hawks on this

> long but beautiful day hike, we were rewarded with

> tasty huckleberries growing along the trail, azure

> skies, and ample sunshine.


> This was one exceptional weekend. What a way to cap

> off the summer!


> Gina Sheridan

> Spokane, WA



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