[Tweeters] Grant County Birding, 12/20/06

Michael Woodruff crazybirder98 at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 20 21:49:45 PST 2006

Garrett MacDonald and I ventured into Grant County today (12/20/06) for a
fine day of winter birding on the 3rd shortest day of the year. Skies were
mostly clear with no wind all day, while temperatures ranged from upper
teens to upper twenties.

We started out at the Coulee Playland Marina in Electric City where we
checked the gulls on the log booms. Most were Ring-billed and Herring, but
we had one adult MEW GULL. We drove and walked the streets to the south
where we found a large flock of 200+ BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. A DOWNY WOODPECKER
sounded off while we worked the area.

Not long after, we bumped into Patrick and Ruth Sullivan who informed us of
some good birds of yesterday's Grand Coulee CBC. After parting company, we
birded the Southbanks Resort just outside of Electric City. As soon as we
pulled up, we spotted a juvenile NORTHERN GOSHAWK in the shrubbery just in
time to obtain scope views before it powered away. Within minutes, we also
saw a COOPER'S HAWK and a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK, finishing off the accipiters!
Sullivans had seen a Swamp Sparrow here, but we were unable to relocate this
bird. Along the entrance road, we saw 1 WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, 1 VARIED
THRUSH, and quite a few American Robins.

As we got out of the car in Northrup Canyon, a flock of 30 COMMON REDPOLLS
flew over headed out towards the lake. Soon afterward, we had a feeding
flock consisting of multiple Black-capped Chickadees, Red-breasted
Nuthatches, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and several BROWN CREEPERS. We
searched good roost trees for owls, and finally had crippling views of a
slumbering NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL in a dense fir. It didn't seem to mind us
taking turns firing away with our cameras.

We looked around the airport near Electric City for sparrows, but only came
up with a NORTHERN SHRIKE. We decided to go back to Southbanks Resort again
to try to find the Swamp Sparrow, but without luck. Instead, we saw a
1st-year PACIFIC LOON just offshore with a large flock of coots!

We worked our way down Banks Lake. A large flock of Common Mergansers had
at least 16 RED-BREASTED MERGANSERS, mostly adult males. We also had a
couple COMMON LOONS and two large floats of REDHEADS.

On Hwy 17 just south of Dry Falls Dam, we had a PRAIRIE FALCON on a
telephone pulls. Sun Lakes SP was pretty dead, but we did have 21 RUDDY
DUCKS in the bay. We drove down as far as the southern end of Lake Lenore,
but didn't find anything of interest. Most of the lakes were frozen. Then
it was back up to Steamboat Rock SP. We were unable to locate any
Long-eared Owls in the russian olives, and the campground was also pretty

We found ourselves back up at Grand Coulee Dam just before sunset, where a
MERLIN waited on a spruce. We also spotted an AMERICAN DIPPER below the
dam, thanks to the Sullivans for the tip.

We decided to go owling after dark back up Northrup Canyon. Upon arriving
in the area we had contacts with at least 5 NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWLS, complete
with various renditions of barks, whines, squeals, and regular tooting. We
had a number of fabulous spotlight views. Fun stuff! We finished up with
two GREAT HORNED OWLS before we thawed out back in the car.

We ended up with a tally of 60 species, all in Grant County. Can't think of
a better way to spend a day!

Michael Woodruff
Spokane, WA

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