[Tweeters] Three-toed, etc Skagit

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 22 10:54:39 PDT 2010

Dear Tweeters,

On 8-21-10, I took a hike from Rainy to Cutthroat Pass. There were more hikers and trailside campers up there than I had ever seen before; runners were bombing up the trail, too. Next week there is a big trail-running race there; I forget the day, but I think it might be 8-28. Just in case any birders are planning to go up there next weekend, race day would be a great time to avoid the place.

Highlight of my hike was a triad of 3-toed Woodpecker sightings. In the morning, I saw an adult male at the hairpin trail turn just above where the trail crosses Porcupine Creek. On my way back down in the late afternoon, I found a female; she was about a kilometer up the trail from the parking area, between the two steep meadowy sections, but east of the big bend in the trail that takes one up into the Porcupine Creek drainage. Finally, just as I reached the parking area, there was an immature 3-toed hard at work, perhaps a hundred meters from the restrooms, easy to view from the trail.

There were lots of Mt Chickadees in various spots. I heard but did not see a Pine Grosbeak and a Northern Pygmy Owl.

Up in the subalpine were three Chipping Sparrows, as always, right near the campsites just before the switchbacks leading to Cutthroat Pass. Grey Jays made frequent fly-by's to check on the availability of gorp in this area.

The pass itself was, as so often the case, almost birdless--a few Clark's Nutcrackers and a Common Raven were all I saw, although I did note a few golden-mantled ground squirrels and pikas up there.

This was one of the few times I have taken this walk in late summer that I did not encounter MacGillivray's Warblers or Townsend's Solitaires in the subalpine section.

Another bird missing from the subalpine was Olive-sided Flycatcher. However, on the way down, I heard a big, scary-sounding rock slide from across the valley. Immediately after the noise subsided, an Olive-sided Flycatcher started calling from the big trees in the forest.

Further down, I stopped at the last alder patch along the trail (before one returns to the parking area). This area was the only spot where there were lots of mosquitoes, and it was also swarming with migrants, including one each Cassin's and Warbling Vireo, dozens of Townsend's Warblers, a Nashville Warbler, a Wilson's Warbler, a Western Tanager, and a young Chippy.

Good numbers of Evening Grosbeaks could be heard almost throughout the hike, although very few of them showed themselves.

At the Hardy Burn sand piles on the way home, I made a brief stop, but it was quiet by then. I did see a Ruby-crowned Kinglet there.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch   Near Lyman, Washington (Skagit County), USA   garybletsch at yahoo.com    

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