[Tweeters] Mt. Rainier – Sunrise – Ptarmigan+

Evan Houston evanghouston at yahoo.com
Sun Aug 28 00:45:38 PDT 2011

Hi Tweeters,

I led a Seattle Audubon field trip to Sunrise at Mt. Rainier
today (8/27/2011) with a group of eager, intrepid, and experienced
The top highlight for the group was upon getting up to the
Mt. Fremont overlook.  A hiker heading
down asked us what the grouse with a lot of white on it she had just seen
was.  We scurried on up to the large
rocks just below the overlook where lots of people were eating.  Soon, a sharp-eyed participant spotted a White-tailed
After lunch, we eventually had to walk away from the bird,
and another hiker asked us what the grouse on the snow was.  Just back on the trail on the left side
(coming down) was another pair of Ptarmigan along a snowfield.  We felt sorry for these birds, as the warm
temperatures, which were nice for us, caused these birds to pitifully remain
motionless, exhibit gular fluttering with open mouths, and close their eyes.  They were dumber or in a less optimal territory
than the first bird, which spent quite a bit of time completely in the shade
underneath an overhanging rock (entirely invisible at this point).  Thanks to the Ryans (Merrill + Shaw) and Bob
Sundstrom for recently posting about their ptarmigan successes.  If you look for these birds, best to spend a
while up here, hopefully you’ll eventually spot movement, and if it’s warm
probably the earlier the better when they’re more active.
Unlike many of the other times I’ve ventured to high elevation,
there were lots of other highlights too, though we really had to work for our
- Raptors – A juv Northern Goshawk gave a nice flyby, and a
Prairie Falcon gave lots of nice views.  Also seen were an American Kestrel, a Red-tailed Hawk, and a couple of
Bald Eagles.
- Finches – At least one young Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch was
on a snowfield near the overlook for Mt. Fremont.  Also flying over were Red Crossbill, Pine
Siskin, and an Evening Grosbeak
- Other passerines – warblers included Yellow-rumped, a
couple of Townsend’s, and Wilson’s, thrushes in addition to robin included a
Varied and a calling Townsend’s Solitaire, and flycatchers included single
Pacific-slope and Western Wood-pewee.
- Several groups of Mountain Goats were seen including a
close one along Mt. Fremont trail.  We
didn’t get to see it but hikers a few minutes ahead and behind us saw a young
Black Bear near Shadow Lake.
Video of the Ptarmigan is here (best 720p and full-screen):
Photos from the trip are here (recommended to click on pause
and advance at your desired speed):
On our all-day excursion we hiked along the Sourdough Ridge
trail to the Mt. Fremont Overlook, then back down and did the long remaining
part of the Sunrise Rim trail, about 7.5 miles and around 1500 feet of
elevation gain.  There are still a few
snow patches on both trails up to Burroughs Mountain, which birdless in the
afternoon, and caution and shoes with good tread is recommended if you try this
The full bird list with approximate counts is below.
Good birding,
Evan Houston
Seattle, WA
Mount Rainier NP--Sunrise, Pierce, US-WA
Aug 27, 2011 8:45 AM - 4:30 PM
31 species
White-tailed Ptarmigan  3   
Bald Eagle  2
Northern Goshawk  1   
Red-tailed Hawk  1   
American Kestrel  1
Prairie Falcon  1   
Band-tailed Pigeon  2
Vaux's Swift  10
Rufous Hummingbird  4
Western Wood-Pewee  1   
Pacific-slope Flycatcher  1   
Gray Jay  1   
Steller's Jay  1
Clark's Nutcracker  6
Common Raven  2
Mountain Chickadee  2
Red-breasted Nuthatch  4
Golden-crowned Kinglet  3
Townsend's Solitaire  1   
American Robin  3
Varied Thrush  2
Cedar Waxwing  3   
Yellow-rumped Warbler  5
Townsend's Warbler  2
Wilson's Warbler  1   
Dark-eyed Junco  12
Western Tanager  1
Gray-crowned Rosy-Finch  2   
Red Crossbill  6   
Pine Siskin  10
Evening Grosbeak  1   
This report was generated automatically by ebird.org

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