[Tweeters] Waterville Plateau/Hart's Pass

Mason Flint masonflint at hotmail.com
Sun Nov 11 20:24:53 PST 2007


I birded the Waterville Plateau on Saturday and a made a quick trip up to
Hart’s Pass earlier today. I had never birded either location so it was a
real treat. Both are amazingly beautiful places. I missed some hoped-for
birds (Sharp-tailed Grouse, Bohemian Waxwing, Snow Bunting, Common Redpoll)
but I wasn’t super surprised given the date. I’m eager to get back there
once winter really sets in.



I drove through Waterville Saturday am just as the sun was rising. On my way
to Winthrow I saw 3 ROUGH LEGGED HAWK and couple of dozen COMMON RAVEN –
both species were common throughout the day. Winthrow was pretty quiet
except for a NORTHERN SHRIKE and hundreds of House Sparrows and House
Finches by the grain elevator. At Lamoine I saw an AMERICAN TREE SPARROW,
another ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK, 1 NORTHERN HARRIER, 3 RED-TAILED HAWK and 2 GRAY
PARTRIDGE.




>From there I drove a few miles down Moses Coulee from US 2 to try for

Chuckar but had no luck. I did see several AMERICAN KESTREL in the hay
fields and great views.




>From there I headed to the non-existent Atkins Lake where I saw about 100

HORNED LARK and another ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK. Next stop was Stellard Lake. As I
was setting up my scope at the gate the land owner stopped on his way out
and chatted with me for a while (I learned that he has never seen “Sage
Chicken
). He gave me permission to cross his property to get closer to the
lake which was very nice of him There were hunters off in the distance to
the west so most of the waterfowl were crowded down at the end of the lake
where I was watching. There were about 24 TRUMPETER SWAN (unusual out
there?), about 20 SNOW GOOSE, 150 CACKLING GOOSE, 100 CANADA GOOSE and a
smattering of MALLARD, N PINTAIL and N SHOVELER.



Feeling optimistic, I drove the grid of roads west of Stallard Lake (4 NE,
8NE, L NE, J NE) hoping to stumble across a Sage Grouse. Of course I didn’t
but I did see 2 more NORTHERN SHRIKE, 3 ROUGH WINGED HAWK, 2 NORTHERN
HARRIER, countless HORNED LARK, a WESTERN MEADOWLARK and a very healthy
looking COYOTE trotting across a field.



Then I through Mansfield to Grimes Lake which had a good number of ducks
including GREEN WINGED and BLUE WINGED TEAL, N PINTAIL, BUFFLEHEAD, 3 very
distant SWANS with necks resting on backs, COMMON AND BARROW’S GOLDENEYE,
GADWALL, NORTHERN SHOVELER and MALLARD. A GOLDEN EAGLE soared over the lake,
scaring up the ducks. Somewhat interestingly, most of the ducks were
females




I stopped at the Foster Creek Unit on Bridgeport Hill Rd but it was very
quiet and Sharp-tailed Grouse were nowhere to be found (by me at least). I
drove through Bridgeport hoping to find Bohemian Waxwing but didn’t. I did a
few quick scans of the Columbia and as I headed toward Brewster and saw
large numbers of ducks including what must have been thousands of AMERICAN
WIGEON. I did a quick drive up Central Ferry Road but it was quiet except
for Juncos, more RED-TAILED HAWKS, a KESTREL and RB NUTHATCH at the old
cemetery. My last stop of the day was in Brewster where I scoped the
Columbia for a while. There were hundreds more AMERICAN WIGEON, maybe 1000
AMERICAN COOT, smaller numbers of GADWALL, LESSER SCAUP and 1 EURASIAN
WIGEON. I also saw WESTERN, HORNED and PIED-BILLED GREBE there as well as a
pair of COMMON LOON.



Finally I drove back to the Freestone Inn in Mazama to join my wife for
dinner. Next time I go to the Waterville Plateau I won’t stay in Mazama.
They’re not around the corner from each other. J



The two of us got up this morning and drove up to Hart’s Pass. There was
about 4-5 inches of snow on the ground at the pass but the road was
thankfully free of snow at the cliffy section. It was about 25 degrees at
the pass and the only bird there was one GRAY JAY. We stopped several times
on the way back down and had some luck. About ½ mile from the pass we saw a
flock of about 10 PINE GROSBEAK, 1 AMERICAN 3-TOED WOODPECKER and a few
MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE. Another mile or so down we found more grosbeaks. On our
way down we ran into a couple of birders who said they knew the location of
a pair of Northern Hawk Owl at Slate Peak. Despite a valiant effort I was
not able to convince my wife to turn around and head back up to the pass in
search of an owl. Maybe next year because Hart’s Pass will almost certainly
be inaccessible within a week or two if not sooner.



Finally I convinced my non-birder wife to stop at the Everett sewage
treatment ponds as we neared home. No surprises but we did see 13 species of
duck that were smart enough to stay away from the hunters on Spencer Island.
There were large numbers of Ruddy Duck on the first pond.



All-in-all a nice weekend of birding.



Mason Flint

Bellevue, WA





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