[Tweeters] Stevens Pass Skyline Trail snowshoe hike Sunday Feb 17

Michael Hobbs birdmarymoor at verizon.net
Mon Feb 18 21:41:42 PST 2008

Tweets - spurred by Gene's post and prodding by Matt, my wife and I hiked the Skyline Trail today. It was glorious - sunny, nice, birdy. Our experience was similar to theirs of yesterday, though we missed the Clark's Nutcracker and the Evening Grosbeak, and had to get the Gray Jays down at the ski lodge.

But we had great looks at RED CROSSBILL, many WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL (though perhaps "only" 50), PINE SISKIN, COMMON REDPOLL (more than 10 - maybe 20), and CASSIN'S FINCH. All were seen in both King and Chelan counties, except for the Redpolls which were all in King.

Lacking snowshoes, we hiked in Sorrel boots using ski poles. The trail is well groomed because it's used to service cell towers. As long as it's been several days since a snowfall, I would expect it would be easy to hike it like we did. The whole hike took just 2.5 hours, and we were going SLOWLY.

White-winged Crossbill was my 275th King County species.

== Michael Hobbs
== Kirkland, WA
== http://www.marymoor.org/birding.htm
== birdmarymoor at verizon.net
----- Original Message -----
From: Eugene and Nancy Hunn
To: tweeters at u.washington.edu
Sent: Sunday, February 17, 2008 7:49 PM
Subject: [Tweeters] Stevens Pass Skyline Trail snowshoe hike Sunday Feb 17


It was a rare sunny beautiful day so George Gerdts, Matt Bartels, and I jumped at the chance to check out earlier reports of exciting winter finches on the slopes above Stevens Pass on the King - Chelan County line.

By the time we got up to Stevens Pass the lots were full of skiers, the sky was shocking blue, the evergreens flocked with hoarfrost, a perfect winter day. We had to park 1.5 miles east at the Yodelin lot and ride the free shuttle bus back to the ski area before hitting the Skyline Trail, which starts behind the employee housing on the north side of the pass. Lots of RED CROSSBILLS and PINE SISKINS about the ski lodge, affording fantastic close looks. Things got a bit quiet as we trudged up the trail on our snowshoes, barely avoiding being run over by errant snowboarders, until at a flat spot at about 4900 feet elevation we enjoyed a visit by four hungry GRAY JAYS and shortly thereafter heard a different sort of crossbill note and got our first looks at WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, mixed with siskins and a single female COMMON REDPOLL. We eventually got point blank looks at some 100 White-winged Crossbills, including adult males, females, and perhaps juveniles. Curiously, most if not all the males showed dusky streaking on the lower flanks and all showed dark gray undertail coverts broadly margined with white. They also did a bit of singing on top of their kip-kip flight calls. Mixed in were perhaps 10 CASSIN'S FINCHES, male and female, and one fly-by CLARK'S NUTCRACKER that called several times before vanishing. We climbed to a small summit on the ridge at 5450 feet, then headed back down. On our descent we were visited by a small flock of ca. 10 Common Redpolls but could only get good looks at a couple of females. Topping off our list was a flock of 20 EVENING GROSBEAKS.

These birds have likely been here feasting on the abundant mountain hemlock and silver fir seed crop for several months, as at least some of the White-winged Crossbills looked like juveniles. It seems likely they may have bred here this winter.

Gene Hunn
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