[Tweeters] Stevens Pass again

John Puschock g_g_allin at hotmail.com
Thu Feb 21 16:52:20 PST 2008


I took another run up to Stevens Pass today (2/21/08). On the drive up this morning, I noticed several flocks of birds, including a flock of about 30 EVENING GROSBEAKS on the shoulder of US 2, mostly between MP 61 and 62 (coming from the west, this is where the road curves right around the mountain about 3 miles below the summit. I didn't see any birds on the shoulder on Tuesday afternoon or coming back down today, so maybe it's a morning-only phenomenon. But then again, that's only two data points, plus I wasn't really looking for those birds on Tuesday, either.

Finches didn't seem to be as widespread this morning as on Tuesday afternoon, but except for WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, I probably saw more individuals today. I encountered two large flocks. One was around Skyline Lake. This flock was primarily COMMON REDPOLLS. I'd estimate approximately 100, plus some PINE SISKINS, WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILLS, 4+ CASSIN'S FINCHES, and 2 RED CROSSBILLS (I had both crossbills, Pine Siskin, and Common Redpoll in one field of view). There was also a pair of GRAY JAYS in the area.

The other flock was fairly close to the north parking lot. It was located just beyond the first right bend in the trail (when walking uphill) after crossing the powerline. This was primarily a PINE SISKIN flock with WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, and ~20 CASSIN'S FINCHES. I also had a single PINE GROSBEAK here, but it did not appear to be associating with the flock. The spot I first saw the Grosbeak appears to be literally on the county line. It then flew east into definite Chelan County territory. And, no, even though it may seem like it, I don't read other's recent reports and then just claim to have had the same sightings. :)

I ran into a couple of other birders who I won't name just in case they called in sick to work. They also had seen a PURPLE FINCH, so that makes eight finch species at the pass today.

Walking was still quite easy with just boots. I wore light hiking boots with little tread (not recommended), but I still managed to hike back downhill without falling both days. The afternoon sun loosens up the snow a bit, providing a little more traction. The trail back to Skyline Lake is rather inconspicuous, and branches off the main trail/service road just before the second tower (which is at the end of the service road). In the morning, I had no trouble walking in this area as long as I didn't go off trail. I don't know if it warms up enough in the afternoon to increase the likelihood of "postholing".

John Puschock
Wedgwood, Seattle
g_g_allin at hotmail.com

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