[Tweeters] Birding in NE Skamania County- Spruce Grouse

Wilson Cady gorgebirds at juno.com
Wed Nov 2 23:58:53 PDT 2011

Thinking that it would be our last chance to do so before the snows begin, Les Carlson and I spent the day birding the higher elevations of northeast Skamania County. In the early morning as we headed north of Trout Lake we encountered a small flock of GRAY JAYS in the middle of the FR23 road. Our first stop was at fog shrouded Takhlakh Lake where the only thing that greeted us was was about an inch of snow on the ground and a few noisy RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHES. Takh Takh Meadows had some flyover CLARK'S NUTCRACKER and RED CROSSBILLS and little else. As we headed for Horseshoe Lake I decided to put my truck into four wheel drive not for the depth of the snow but rather for the layer of ice that coated the road beneath the snow. As we approached Killen Creek, my target species, a male SPRUCE GROUSE was picking gravel in the center of the road and allowed very close photo opportunities. Horseshoe Lake was also quiet with only a juvenile BALD EAGLE on a snag and four BUFFLEHEAD and a HOODED MERGANSER on the water. Another stop at Takhlakh Lake as we back-tracked produced awesome views of Mt. Adams and a mixed flock of ducks that included AMERICAN WIGEON, LESSER SCAUP and RING-NECKED DUCKS. Some GRAY JAYS there readily ate cookies from the palm of my hand. Council Lake only had a pair of COMMON MERGANSERS on it and the only other bird seen here was a surprising WILSON'S SNIPE on the frozen shoreline. As we came back down the White Salmon River to it's mouth we could see how the removal of Condit Dam on Oct. 26th has filled this lower section of the river with rocks. gravel and silt. This has created what should be some good shorebird habitat, which is rare in Skamania County, for the next few years until it becomes covered by vegetation and becomes a riparian area. Without the dam, which had been in place for 98 years blocking downstream movement of sand and gravel, a delta should now form in the Columbia River where one should be able to find gulls, shorebirds and other goodies in the future. Wilson Cady
Skamania County, WA

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