[Tweeters] N. Cascades-Ferry Co report

Scott Atkinson scottratkinson at hotmail.com
Wed Aug 13 11:22:19 PDT 2008

Tweeters: Just completed a family mini-vacation to Curlew Lake in Ferry County. This was not really a birding trip, but birding was incidental to various other activities. On August 9, we made it 3 miles up the Rainy Pass trail in the direction of Cutthroat Pass. The weather wasn't great but the parking lot at the trail head produced a CASSIN'S FINCH and about 120 EVENING GROSBEAKS; a WARBLING VIREO was singing also, about as high an elevation as I've had one. Cassin's aren't common in this extreme eastern edge of Skagit County, but can occur in numbers at times. Alas, time did not allow for chasing down some of the more eagerly-sought species like Spruce Grouse and Black-backed Woodpecker reported in the last month from the trail. Wildflowers and biting insects were impressive in their abundance here.

At Lake Curlew in Ferry County, we had a nice passage of birds on Sunday morning, August 10, associated with a small front passing through. Among various migrants at the Fishing Resort on the east side (on the peninsula that juts out into the lake) was a CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER seen from as close as 10 ft; it repeatedly vocalized. This seemed a bit north and west of the known range (or at least known to me at the time of writing). Real strange here was a W. Wood-Pewee (among several present) that repeatedly gave a "kep" call note that seemed a dead match for Alder Flycatcher--go figure! It wasn't a vocalization I'd heard the species give previously, when I first heard it I nearly jumped out of my chair. Other migrants here included W. Tanager, Bullock's Oriole, Black-headed Grosbeak, a Townsend's and several Yellow-rumped Warblers, several Gray Catbirds and a N. WATERTHRUSH (these all surely nest here or very close by also). An admixture of all three WA nuthatches made for quite a show, taken in right from the deck of the cabin. Chipping Sparrows were numerous all along the way back to Republic, and all about the lake, E. Kingbirds were still abundant. On the lake itself, I had a CLARK'S x W. GREBE hybrid. At Sanpoil Lake just south of Curlew Lake, shorebirds included SOLITARY (1), SPOTTED, SEMIPALMATED (2) and LEAST SANDPIPERS, and WILSON'S SNIPE, among others. Another N. WATERTHRUSH was here, as was an ad. male MERLIN. Finally, the lake provided considerable other interesting life, including a RIVER OTTER that hauled out on our dock, and we heard several reports of TIGER MUSKELLUNGE, a highly predatory fish that is huge (36"-46") and was intentionally introduced to control squawfish, for which there remains a ten-cent bounty. For herp lovers, my wife is adamant that on a hike up Thunder Creek (accessed via the Colonial Creek campground), she and her friend encountered a W. DIAMONDBACK RATTLESNAKE many years ago, several miles up the trail in arid rocky habitat. This would be first for wWA (right, Kelly McAllister?), although I know they occur in w. OR, and this extreme eastern section does seem to get a spill-over of certain eastern WA flora and fauna.

Scott Atkinson
Lake Stevens
mail to: scottratkinson at hotmail.com
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