[Tweeters] Xmas in Okanogan/Douglas counties: Hoary Redpoll, ...

Stefan Schlick greenfant at hotmail.com
Wed Dec 26 20:32:08 PST 2007

Mike Fleming and I ventured out into Okanogan and Douglas counties over Xmas. Birding was generally slow, so a lot of patience was required. Roads up in the Highlands were in good condition, but 4WD is recommended, not just for piece of mind. Here our findings:11/22:We started at Bridgeport SP near Bridgeport where we had about 25 Northern Flickers, one of them looking good for Yellow-shafted. We didn't find any roosting owls there. In the town of Bridgeport, 12 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS were gorging themselves on berries near Raymond & 18th and 2 SLATE-COLORED JUNCOS were mixed in with the rest of the usual feeder birds. A single AMERICAN TREE SPARROW was at the Bridgeport Bar where Moe turns into Grange, a Townsend's Solitaire further south on Moe. At the intersection of CR173 and US97 was a surprising pure flock of about 50 Cedar Waxwings.We then proceeded over to Conconully where we didn't find anything in town except for a single SLATE-COLORED JUNCO and another Townsend's Solitaire. As we had dipped on the SHARP-TAILED GROUSE earlier at the pullout for the Scotch Creek Wildlife Area, we were ecstatic to see 4 birds popped up in a water birch by the side of the road, just 0.2mi east of Happy Hill & Conconully Rd. Huge thanks to Craig Kemper without whom we would have missed these birds for sure! Another 2mi west, a flock of about 40 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS was circling the road.11/23:Our first day in the Okanogan Highlands. It was snowing hard most of the day. Driving up Havillah Rd, 4 GRAY PARTRIDGE were in the triangle at the Fancher Dam Rd turnoff. A Ruffed Grouse flew across the road near the intersection of Hungry Hollow & Havillah Rd. About 50 Red Crossbills had us going near the intersection Nealy & Chesaw Rd just west of Chesaw. Alas, no White-winged was in there, as hard as we tried! An adult Golden Eagle gave us fantastic looks off Chesaw Rd at the bottom of the hill just southeast of the Myers Ck Rd turnoff. There were also a few more Red Crossbills at this spot. We then took Nealy Rd from Chesaw back toward Sitzmark. A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded a little further up the hill on Nealy Rd. Near 619 Nealy Rd, we saw and heard a NORTHERN GOSHAWK. Another few miles up the road at a homestead with a tree loaded with apples were another 50 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS. On another tip from Craig we found their flock of about 100 SNOW BUNTINGS about 1mi north of Chesaw & Davies Rd. This flock then moved south with us across Chesaw Rd and then another mile down Havillah Rd. A quick check for Great Gray Owl at the Sno-park yielded nothing.11/24:Day 2 in the Highlands turned into a sunny, yet sometimes breezy day. Birding was super slow. We again took Nealy Rd to find the Bohemians back at the homestead (see above). The Red Crossbills had moved further up the road towards Sitzmark. No Gray-crowned Rosy-finches there even though we looked hard - Craig had had them there the day before. Another Ruffed Grouse was flying across Mary Ann Ck Rd around mid day. As we were about to get desperate, we hit the jackpot along Havillah Rd on the west side of Muskrat Lake: A flock of about 40 REDPOLLS. The birds were feeding on the stalks of mullein (?) along the road working a stretch of about 250yds several times as we were there. After careful scoping for about an hour, we concluded that there were 2 HOARY REDPOLLS mixed in with it. Contact me for further documentation on the birds; unfortunately we didn't get any pictures. We then decided to head over towards Beaver Lake. En route we had another 3 BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS across the road from the Chesaw Cemetary. Apart from Beaver Lake itself (see notes below), the loop Chesaw Rd, Toroda Ck Rd and US20 back to Tonasket was dead.11/25:We started the day at Central Ferry Canyon. A single immature Cedar Waxwing looked lost mid Canyon. In the Ponderosa Pine section near the top we had many Pygmy Nuthatches and a few Red Crossbills.We then headed south across the Waterville Plateau where we hardly found any birds at all. No Snow Buntings and only a few, mostly smaller flocks of pure Horned Larks. A GYRFALCON at CR172 & Rd 3 NW, south of Withrow, saved our bacon. Calling Chukar and 2 Golden Eagles were just off 97 (about 1/3mi north of Wilwood Pl) just north of East Wenatchee.Other interesting sightings include:-A Hairy Woodpecker just north of Havillah on Havillah Rd working the mullein stalks, about 1/2mi away from the closest tree (!)-Believe it or not but there was a Virginia Rail point blank out in the open at frosty Beaver Lake - it was 16F when we got there early afternoon. The lake had 3 small holes of open water left. 3 American Dippers were also swimming and diving in these small holes.-A Kingfisher was patrolling a tiny open area of Myers Ck in downtown Chesaw, looking completely out of place-Twice we saw a Northern Shrike do aerials to chase down a tiny passerine. These guys are more acrobatic and endurant than you would think!-We had a rather mediocre Xmas dinner at a Chinese restaurant in Omak with 12 nuns who were in town to sing at a midnight mass. They looked striking, reminding me of Snow Buntings in their black-and-white habits.Stefan SchlickHillsboro, OR
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