[Tweeters] Yes on Idaho Loons & Stevens County Three-toed Woodpeckers

Gina Sheridan gsherida8502 at yahoo.com
Sun Apr 15 23:30:58 PDT 2007


While preparing for our Sunday (4/15/07) trip to Pend
Oreille County last evening, I was excited to read
about all four loon species reported on Lake Pend
Oreille, Idaho. After birding P.O. County, perhaps I
could inveigle my friend, Kim Thorburn into detouring
eastward over to the Sandpoint area and trying our
luck at looning. 

Even though we departed Spokane at 5:00 AM, it was
obvious that it was already getting too light for
serious owling. When we tried for Barred Owl in the
Deer Valley area, we did hear a couple of gruff,
annoyed , single-note calls that were probably given
by a disgruntled Barred Owl, but we never saw the bird
for confirmation.

On Mountain Meadow Lake, there was a large cow Moose,
CANVASBACK, REDHEAD, RED-NECKED GREBE, LESSER SCAUP,
RUDDY DUCK, GADWALL, RING-NECKED DUCK, STELLER'S JAY,
COMMON GOLDENEYE, and  PIED-BILLED GREBE. Meanwhile,
the songs of both VARIED THRUSH and WINTER WRENs cut
through the early morning chill. 

A bit later, we peered through the cold mist hovering
over the wetlands north of Davis Lake, and saw
AMERICAN WIGEON, EURASION WIGEON - 1, RING-NECKED
DUCK, CANADA GOOSE, AMERICAN COOT, Muskrat, and
NORTHERN SHOVELER. MARSH WREN and SORA were heard but
did not allow any visuals.

On the loop around Calispell Lake, we noted PINE
SISKIN, MT. & BC CHICKADEE, TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE - 7,
SAVANNAH SPARROW - 3 , WESTERN MEADOWLARK - 1, TUNDRA
SWAN - 3, WOOD DUCK, GREATER WHITE-FRONTED GOOSE - 2,
CACKLING GOOSE - 2 (Taverner's), RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER,
HAIRY WOODPECKER, MT. BLUEBIRD - 1, CLIFF SWALLOW,
TREE SWALLOW, BELTED KINGFISHER, VIOLET-GREEN SWALLOW,
and BALD EAGLE.

At the junction of Tacoma Creek Road & Locke Cutoff
Road, we enjoyed nice views of CHESTNUT-BACKED
CHICKADEE, PILEATED WOODPECKER, Red Squirrel,
White-tailed Deer, and brief glimpse of a RED-BACKED
VOLE running down a tree. When we crossed the Tacoma
Creek bridge, we spied an AMERICAN DIPPER. Before
deeper snow forced us to turn back down the grade, we
saw a VARIED THRUSH flit up from the deeply forested
roadside.

Following Terry Little's directions to the Gillette
Recreation Area (just south of Lake Gillette, Stevens
County), that is nestled in the Little Pend Oreille
Highlands, Kim and I carefully surveyed a large stand
of Lodgepole Pines that contained plenty of
interesting snags. 

After fifteen minutes had passed without any sights of
sounds of woodpeckers, we were becoming discouraged.
Rather giving up entirely, I paused one more time
before heading back to our rig. Finally, I heard a
light tapping. Yes! it was a woodpecker, and the  bird
delivered a nice little drumming too. Feeling
confident  that is was our target Three-toed, we moved
in on it. Before long, we were staring at a pair of
AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERs.  This was an ABA
lifer for Kim and a Stevens County lifer for me.

Clearly, these two TTWOs were of the strongly barred
back, fasciatus race. Interesting enough, last year,
we saw TTWOs in P.O. County that were much whiter
backed which seemed to make them fit more into the
dorsalis race category.

Later, we hiked around the Cusick Wetland Park and saw
OSPREY, RING-BILLED GULL, DC CORMORANT, SAVANNAH
SPARROW, and  PYGMY NUTHATCH. RINGE-NECKED PHEASANT
was a heard only. Down in Dalkena, we observed
AMERICAN KESTREL and BELTED KINGFISHER. 

It was now mid-afternoon and we needed to haul
ourselves over to Sunnyside (east of Sandpoint) and
try for those rare loons. Arriving at 4:00 PM at
Hawkin's Point on Sunnyside Road, we dashed out to the
end of the pier and began scanning the choppy water.
Almost immediately, we saw a butter-yellow-billed
CLARK'S GREBE that certainly stood out from the
drabber looking skeins of WESTERN GREBEs. In addition,
we saw RING-BILLED GULL, HERRING GULL, COMMON
MERGANSER, EARED GREBE, HORNED GREBE, RED-NECKED
GREBE, and PIED-BILLED GREBE. 

To our dismay, we initially could not find ANY loons.
Where were they? I surmised (more like hoped) that
they might be actively feeding and that they were not
surfacing long enough for us to detect them. After
some fifteen loonless minutes of frantic scanning of
Lake Pend Oreille, I finally spotted a loon. Our first
loon was clearly a PACIFIC LOON in basic plumage. Next
up, was the RED-THROATED LOON which was an Idaho state
lifer for me.

During this time, a cold breeze had stiffened and
forced us to bundle up with more winter apparel. When
Kim spotted a third loon and asked my opinion on it, I
was nearly floored to see that it was a YELLOW-BILLED
LOON.  Wow, we saw three species of loons within an
hour, and none of them were Common Loons!

Although it was cold, and the loons were distant, the
lighting was excellent and their was no heat
distortion. We were extremely pleased to see all these
great birds. 


Best of Birding,

Gina Sheridan
Sookane, WA

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