[Tweeters] White-tailed Ptarmigans with other fun birds and mammals
(Sunrise, Mt. Rainier)
fsprucegrouse at yahoo.com
Sat Oct 1 23:34:50 PDT 2011
The last, two trips to the Sunrise area of Mt. Rainier has been great for birding and mammals. Earlier this week, George Neavoll and I ventured up there and saw most of our target, alpine birds.
With a bit of searching near the Mt. Fremont , we were immediately entertained by a female WHITE TAILED PTARMIGAN with her two (almost) fully-grown chicks. The cryptically, plumaged hen, blended in so well with the rocks that we walked past her on the first scan. She froze still for minutes while keeping a lookout for roaming, raptors and ravens. As soon as it was safe, she emitted a few mewing calls, and the chicks appeared from under the rock and started to feed. The ptarmigans were also an attraction for a family of hikers as they later helped us find two more ptarmigans near the fire tower. These males were starting to molt into their winter plumage. It was so nice to see a variation of plumages within the different ages and sex of this fascinating birds.
While admiring the fancy alpine chickens, we heard 3-4 coyotes howling nearby. It was rather eerie but added a different effect to the experience. It was my first coyote sighting at Mt. Rainier.
Other birds in the area included a PRAIRIE FALCON and GOLDEN EAGLE. There was also a SHARP-SHINNED HAWK that was cruising the ridges. We had a fly-by GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH near the fire tower and Clark's Nutcrackers and Water Pipits were quite common.
As the evening approached we did a bit of owling and was rewarded with a very responsive BOREAL OWL that did it's empathic Skiew call. It called several times and was really close by. Adding to the mix, was a quick, fly-by NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL. It was a great way to end the evening.
Two weeks prior, there was a pair of WHITE TAILED PTARMIGAN near the fire tower as well. West of the tower were 40-50 MOUNTAIN GOATS grazing in the open meadow. I was thrilled to find a playful, PINE MARTEN along the scree about 100 yards from the fire tower. A flock of a dozen GRAY CROWNED ROSYFINCHES were below the junction of Frozen Lake and the Mt. Fremont Trail
Near Frozen Lake, there were 3 PINE GROSBEAKS along with several RED CROSSBILLS and EVENING GROSBEAKS. Three SOOTY GROUSE put in a brief appearance along this trail.
Owling was fun that evening with a very responsive LONG-EARED OWL that breezed by a few times.
You can never have a bad time at Mt. Rainier! Photos and Videos to come!!!
More information about the Tweeters