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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