[Tweeters] harts pass

Teri J Pieper tjpieper at gmail.com
Sun Nov 6 16:07:37 PST 2011

Nothing like a new car, snow in the mountains and winter about to settle in
to make me call my birding friend and say 'let's go to Harts Pass', and she
being as enthusiastic as me, said 'Yeah'. I had to try out that Forester and
maybe see some of the cold weather specialties.

On the way up we were treated to three Varied Thrushes. A good sign. We hit
snow not far above the goat lick area. Not too much and it was cold and
powdery. We passed Harts Pass and parked at the horse loading and unloading
parking lot and got out to walk. Very shortly we heard and saw Pine
Grosbeaks! Several of them coming and going from the tops of spruce trees.
We looked away and began to walk up the road some more and I looked back and
I saw a Northern Hawk Owl! A first for my friend. She only got a short look
at it before it flew down and maybe towards the road to Meadows where I have
seen it in past years. It was in the same grove of trees where we saw the
grosbeaks. We kept walking up to the last switchback before the road goes UP
to Slate Peak, seeing other flocks of birds we judged to be more Pine
Grosbeaks all coming from and going the same general direction. The view
from the ridge top to the basin below the lookout was beautiful. Lots of big
animal tracks in the snow crossed and crisscrossed the openings. No sign of
ptarmigan though. We turned back towards the car, again following the road.
Below the PCT trailhead, I noticed movement out of the corner of my eye and
looked and stopped my friend - there was a flock of 7 Gray-crowned
Rosy-finches feeding on the opens spots right next to us on the cut bank!
What a treat to see them so close. They were perfectly silent. Back at the
parking lot we saw Mountain Chickadees. We also saw Ravens and a Red-tailed
Hawk on our walk. We heard Clark's Nutcrackers and a Stellar's Jay.

We had lunch and drove down to the road that goes to Meadows. Again, lots of
interesting tracks. Maybe a lynx? Weasels, coyotes, and no doubt others. We
parked and walked back along the road towards Harts Pass. One more highlight
was an American Three-toed Woodpecker working the snags. I wondered how
often the bird was finding something to eat for all of its efforts. It was
joined for a short time by a White-breasted Nuthatch.

Skies were blue, the snow was powdery, wind was mostly calm; the whole place
was enchanting!

Teri J Pieper

Methow Valley


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