[Tweeters] Noble Knob area Sept 11 & 12

Mark Vernon ma_vern at yahoo.com
Sun Sep 14 10:23:05 PDT 2008

Noble Knob is a small mountain just north of the border of the Norse Peak Wilderness and Corral Pass. It's top was the former site of a fire look out, now gone. From the top you can get a great panorama of the Cascades that includes Mt. Rainier, Glacier Peak, Mt. Stuart, Snoqualmie Pass and the marvelously shaped Kelly Butte that appears on TWEETERS from time to time. I spent two days on a family camping trip in this area, we camped at the nearby Lake George, or is it George Lake? We have been coming here for many years and have always said the former.
We came from the north side, from road 7222. The weather was perfect. The trail up yielded Golden-crowned Kinglets and Red-breasted Nuthatches. A lone Hermit Thrush seemed somewhat tame. During a break looking at a looming Mt. Rainier, 3 Clark's Nutcrackers flew overhead. A lone Empid Flycatcher perched in a tree nereby, possibly a Hammond's. Near our approuch to the lake a Blue Grouse was flushed up. I did not get a good enough look to tell if it was Sooty or Dusky.
Lake George had many Yellow-rumped "Audubon's" Warblers. There were some Mountain Chickadees but not as many as I expected. Oregon Juncos were the most common bird. Of course Gray Jays came to visit. A pale Red-tailed Hawk landed in a tree above the talus slope causing Hoary Marmots to whistle their alarm.
On the first evening I climbed up to the trail on the west side of Noble Knob's ridge. It was very warm as the sun went down. I saw a herd of 10 Mountain Goats in a steep meadow on the side of a small mountain, due south of Noble Knob. way down below, to the west, is another small lake. A pair of Elk were splashing in the water, their two calves ran into the lake to join them. It looked like a family group at play. Is this elklike behavior? The male was splashing his front hooves and the others splashed all around him.
That night we slept in the open at Lake George. It was a nice night and the moon came out. A pair of Owls started flying noiselessly above our sleeping bags. They swooped all aound in circles sometimes landing in nearby trees and once on the ground. They never called out but kept this up for a good hour! We could see their shape well because of the moon. They had round heads and long, more narrow wings. I really think that they were Short-eared Owls. They were definately not Great Horned Owls and their wings were certainly not Barred or Spotted Owls. Very wonderful to see!
The next day we went up to Noble Knob itself. It is kind of sad that the top was blasted for the building of a look out tower that was eventually destroyed. I wonder what the top had looked like? 2 more Mountain Goats appeared near the top just as we were setting out. Just to the south of the Knob is a sort of pass where a number of trails meet, including the way to go to Corral Pass and Castle Mountain. Here were some birds running through the grass, American Pipits. I counted 26 in one flock. two Townsend's Solitaires were perched nearby. Chipping Sparrows were also here. 3 Cooper's Hawks seemed to rule the roost and swooped at everything nearby including Ravens, Turkey Vultures and Red-tailed Hawks. A large Falcon Swooped through, I think it was a peregrine but I didn't get a good enough look to see if it was a Prairie. Lone Turkey Vultures had been moving through all day, but suddenly a group of 6 circled all around Noble Knob before moving away to
the north.  A single Band-tailed Pigeon also appeared.
One of our goals was to pick Black Huckleberries and Mountain Blueberries. This time most of the berries weren't quite ready and possibly it wasn't as good of a crop this year. We did manage enough for a pie. Varied Thrush sang for us on the way back down.
Some birds I didn't find were Townsend's Warblers, Swifts, and Swallows.

Mark Vernon
Renton, WA
mailto ma_vern at yahoo.com

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