[Tweeters] Signs of spring as winter wanes in Okanogan and Douglas. Co (Bird Report)

Khanh Tran fsprucegrouse at yahoo.com
Mon Mar 16 20:17:15 PDT 2009

Hi all,

Steve Nord (Hillsboro,Oregon) and I enjoyed a weekend whirlwind trip to the Okanogan and Douglas Co. An interesting time to see what wintery species still linger in the bucolic setting.

Overall bird numbers and diversity have dropped but the fun company and close encounters with some species made up for the slow birding.

A hint of spring emerges with the welcoming presence of Western and Mountain Bluebirds, Western Meadowlarks, and Say's Phoebe.

Some of the wintering species still persist. It was interesting and delightful to observe their changing plumages, habits,and sounds.

Some species have dietary changes as well. Pine grosbeaks were feeding much higher munching on needles, cones, and seeds from fir,spruce, and ash trees Waxwings were consuming buds from deciduous trees.

Notably absent were the dozen pygmy owls seen the last several trips. Maybe it is their time to shift upslope to higher elevations for breeding. I suspect a few do breed at these lower elevation as long as their are Hairy Woodpecker, Flicker, and Red naped Sapsucker cavities. I wonder where they went?

Here are some of the highlights:

YELLOW BILLED LOON: The cooperative and active bird still persists near Murphy Rd at the usual spot at Chief Joseph Dam in Bridgeport,WA. Seen on Sunday 3/15. It was about 20 yards from parking lot and allowed excellent looks. No loons other wise.

TUNDRA SWAN; A nice flock of 70 resting birds on icy Jameson Lake near Mansfield. A very serene setting contrasting nicely with the brooding and moody gray skies.

ROUGH LEGGED HAWKS: A few birds still scattered on the Okanogan Highlands. The several dozen seen two weeks on the Waterville Plateau, were absent.

PRAIRE FALCON: A handsome bird on Central Ferry Rd near Dyer Hill Rd intersection.

GOLDEN EAGLE: Several birds near Riverside Cut-Off and Highlands, with one close encounter with soaring adult near Orondo.

NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL: One vocal bird at early light at Conconully State Park.

GREAT HORNED OWL: A couple on the Okanogan Highlands, one vocal bird at Conconully SP, and one nesting pair on Central Ferry Rd in Mansfield.

SHARP TAILED GROUSE; Approximately 6 birds on the ground near the birch trees along Mary Ann Creek Rd. Nice to see their tracks and divots as they were roaming the snowy fields.

RUFFED GROUSE; Several birds on Davies Rd and Mary Ann Creek. Had one trusting bird allowing me to approach within I got three feet!. Starting to think, I should exclude fancy poulet from my diet.

NORTHERN SHRIKE: A few hunting birds on the Okanogan Highlands(Davies) and several on Waterville Plateau.

WESTERN BLUEBIRDS; Up to a dozen birds on Happy Hill Rd.

MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS; Several stunning males in Mansfield, WA near cemetery. They were the brightest and most vivid males that I have ever seen. Amazing how they blazon the austere backdrop with their brillant blues.

SAY'S PHOEBE: Several birds in the Okanogan Highlands, Conconully, and Mansfield.

TOWNSEND SOLITARE: One on Nine Mile Rd and another one near Wannacut Lake.

BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS; We had a nice flock of 150 plus birds feeding 10 feet above our heads on maple buds at Bridgeport State Park. Several flocks of 30-50 flybys near Central Ferry Rd.

SNOW BUNTINGS: We had several flocks. One flock of 50 birds on Hungry Hollow Rd, a nice flock of 150 birds in on G NE and 15 in Mansfield, a smaller flock of 25 birds near Withow.

My favorite birds in flight as their flashy patterns are so striking in the snow and blue skies. Most are close to attaining their spring plumage; so crisp and sharp this time of year. A treat to see.

GRAY CROWNED ROSYFINCHES; The spumoni themed snowbirds were in full force on Nealy Rd. About 150 birds. Included a photo of one transitioning into breeding plumage.

PINE GROSBEAKS: Several small flocks of 25-30 birds on Bolster and Mary Ann Creek Rd. We had an upclose and personal encounter with a nice flock of 30 birds near Twisp. WA. Some males were gutterally singing-- reminscent of a purple finch that needs singing lessons.

Birds were feeding more in trees rather than the ground as seen in previous weeks.

EVENING GROSBEAKS; A flock of 40 birds in Conconully, WA. Always a joy to see and hear.

RED CROSSBILLS: Several birds along Loup Loup Pass and a small flock near Winthrop, WA.

COMMON REDPOLLS: Two small flocks of 50 birds total along Mary Ann Creek and Bolster Rd. Some of the breeding males were stunning with their glowing red-satin 'caps'.

Snapped a few shots for those who care:


Good birding,

Khanh Tran (Portland, Oregon)

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