[Tweeters] Waterville Plateau and Okanogan Highlands Owls

johntubbs at comcast.net johntubbs at comcast.net
Tue Jan 13 23:39:36 PST 2009

Hi Everyone,

With all the recent owl posts, I'll add one to the mix. Marv Breece, Mason Flint, Evan Houston and I just completed a three day trip to north-central WA and had pretty good luck with owls. We dipped on Great Gray Owl, despite spending pre-dawn (cold!) hours and waiting until past dark watching the meadows and forest edges at the Havillah Sno-Park.

However, we did see GREAT HORNED OWL (7!), NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL (great looks at 2), LONG-EARED OWL and SHORT-EARED OWL. By far the most interesting Great Horned Owl (GHOW) sighting occurred on Conconully Road along Scotch Creek. We found multiple Sharp-tailed Grouse in clumps of trees in that area, and while studying one particularly close and cooperative grouse, someone said, 'Say, is that big clump in the middle of the trees an owl?!' Sure enough, there was a roosting GHOW in the same tree as the grouse, within a very short distance of the grouse. We speculated that this did not speak well to the Darwinian genetic makeup of the grouse sharing the same tree...!

We arrived at Scotch Creek well before dark and slowly drove other roads in the area looking for owls, and found a LONG-EARED OWL perched on a fence post along Silver Hill (Happy Hill) Road. It gave nice looks in the car headlights before another vehicle came by and flushed it.

The two NORTHERN PYGMY-OWL were found perched in tree tops along Hungry Hollow Road and Chesaw Road.

The SHORT-EARED OWL - an unexpected and pleasant surprise - gave us a close-up in-flight show while hunting in mid-morning along Mary Ann Creek Road on Sunday, a very gorgeous day on the Okanogan Highlands. It circled a field within a few yards of our car several times, including an unsuccessful hunting plunge into the snow, before flying off.

We'll do a more complete report touching on other winter specialty birds (suffice it to say we had an excellent trip in that regard) shortly. Evan got some extremely good digiscope images of Bohemian Waxwing, Gray-crowned Rosy-finch and Pine Grosbeak among others.

John Tubbs
Snoqualmie, WA
johntubbs at comcast.net
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