[Tweeters] Mt. Rainier ptarmigans and Ahtanum Meadow grouse
khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Sat Aug 18 23:51:32 PDT 2007
Today, I guided an out-to-state birder on a whirlwind trip to Mt. Rainier
and Yakima in hopes to find some tough,target 'lifers' birds within a 12
hour period. Under pressure, I was successful at locating a few interesting
At Paradise, I found two separate sightings of WHITE TAILED PTARMIGANS.
After spending more than an hour, I located one bird near Panorama Point
shortly before the snowcovered trail and near some trickling streams. The
family that was reported earlier by David Haden, was closer to the
intersection of the Golden Gate Trail and Skyline Trail. We were able to
count only 2 chicks but others were probably hidden. Both sightings provided
distant viewing from the trails were near some lush vegetation close to a
snowfield and stream.
We were at the summit by 7:00 AM and saw the birds no later than 8:15 AM. We
pretty much had the entire mountain to ourselves until 10:00 AM. It was
cold and mostly cloudy early on.
Now that I have hiked the Spray Park, Sunrise, and Paradise areas looking
for ptarmigans, I admit, Spray Park is my favorite hike in terms of beauty,
but the most strenuous and buggy.
Other birds at Paradise included a small flock of BLACK SWIFTS near Panorama
Point. There was a family of SOOTY GROUSE shortly after all the switchbacks
on the Golden Gate Trail. We also found several GRAY CROWNED ROSY FINCHES
at two different snowfields. Raptors included some SHARP SHINNED HAWKS and
one GOLDEN EAGLE.
At Ahtanum Meadows, 30 miles south east of Yakima, I was discouraged by the
excessive activity of ATV's, scouting hunters, and unleashed dogs in my
search for grouse. My instincts made me search away from the roads. As a
result, we were rewarded with one nice, male SPRUCE GROUSE on the Grey Rock
Trail shortly before 6:00 PM. Elevation was 4600 ft.
There was an influx of baby NASHVILLE WARBLERS, WESTERN TANAGERS, AND DUSKY
FLYCATCHERS being fed this late in the year.
On our way, out we found more SOOTY GROUSE along the North Fork Rd. This
is an excellent road for grouse in the fall. Make sure you go before the
hunting season comes.
We also had one cooperative GOLDEN EAGLE feeding on a fawn as we headed out
as well as several LEWIS WOODPECKERS on Ahtanum Rd.
Khanh Tran (Portland, Oregon)
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