[Tweeters] More Okanogan highlights and Ruth Sullivan

khanh tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Wed Feb 20 00:57:55 PST 2008

Hi all,

Sorry my previous report sounded so banal. I failed to add a few interesting moments to the trip. Blake Matheson and I were very fortunate to have excellent views and study of some of the following birds.

We had one NORTHERN PYGMY OWL perched about 3 feet off a snag on Beaver Lake while intently watching a dipper swim. That is the lowest that I have ever seen a pymgy owl perched. It seemed hesitant to go for the dipper. Was the little owl thinking it will it be a double dip? Will I missed the dipper and face drowning in the frigid water?

It was surreal to watch and study the GRAY CROWNED ROSY-FINCHES up close. The interior forms of the gray rosy finches appear slightly larger than the Hepburn's. At one point, we saw only one bird on an apple tree but soon it vocalized a dry, jew, jew call and the roving flock swirled over our heads before landing a few feet from us. Perhaps, it was a contact call signaling to the flock, it was safe to come and feed.

The SNOWY OWL near Mansfield was hidden in between two rocks right on the ground about 40 yards from the road. It had its head slightly peered out. Luckily, the bird decided to blink at me with it's bright yellow eyes. Watching it fly against the snowy tundra like setting was really cool. They are such magnificient birds! Seeing them on the Waterville Plateau compared to the coast conveys a different feeling.

We got to watch a male RUFFED GROUSE partially displayed to a hen near Mary Ann Creek. It was flaring its ruffs and ostentatiously fanning its tail. They are so beautiful and often overlooked. On our way out of the Okanogan Highlands, we got to see two more birds feed in the dark, high up in the Quaking Aspen trees. It was a real treat.

Last but not least, it was great to see Ruth Sullivan out birding. She has always been very kind to me and has greatly influenced and inspired me to bird Washington. Giving her a warm hug, I felt a connection and Patrick's spirit. I greatly miss him; I would not have been birding WA so intensively if it weren't for the Sullivans. I will always associate the magical Okanogan with the Sullivans.

Good birding,

Khanh Tran (Portland, Oregon)

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