[Tweeters] Oh-for-five on ptarmigan

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sun Oct 16 20:21:00 PDT 2011

Dear Tweeters,

Today I made my fifth attempt in three months to see a White-tailed Ptarmigan on Sahale Arm. One of those attempts was foiled by rain last month, when Jim McCoy and I never got out of the forest. However, today was the fourth day since August that I have spent wandering all over that place, and still no luck!

I ran into two hikers who'd snow-camped on the lower arm. They had small family groups of ptarmigan chuckling away right in their camp, both today (10-16-11) and yesterday!

Not I. Many tracks did I see, and a nice feather did I find, but neither the makers of the tracks nor the plume-shedder appeared.

A Northern Pygmy Owl was giving a four- to five-note-per second long call, in exactly the same spot where Jim and I saw one last month. A Hermit Thrush was at the start of the trail.

Complete species list follows:

Sharp-shinned Hawk, 2 adults;
Ptarmigan: only tracks and feathers;
Sooty Grouse, only tracks, down in the forest, much larger than ptarmgian tracks;
Northern Pygmy Owl, one heard;
Hairy Woodpecker, one heard;
Golden-crowned Kinglet, several small flocks;
Chestnut-backed Chickadee, ditto;
Red-breasted Nuthatch, ditto;
Varied Thrush, around 15;
Hermit Thrush, 1;
Pacific Wren, only one heard, way up in last trees just below pass;
Oregon Junco, 3 near parking area;
Evening Grosbeak, 40 or so;
Red Crossbill, 15;
Pine Siskin, 2;
Grey-crowned Rosy Finch, 25.

Pikas were much in evidence, although I saw none with vegetation in their mouths. There were a couple of chipmunks, a Douglas Squirrel (I assume) and one or two other small mammals that bounded away. Up on the Arm, there were many, many mammal tracks, but I don't know what they were. I saw no goats or marmots.

I reckon this hike will still be do-able for a few more days, but the next storm that comes in will probably make it very unpleasant; I had a bit of post-holing to do as it was, but another snowfall will about wrap it up for this year.

Yours truly,

Gary Bletsch

Gary Bletsch Near Lyman, Washington (Skagit County), USA garybletsch at yahoo.com Mentre che li occhi per la fronda verde
ficcava ïo sì come far suole
chi dietro a li uccellin sua vita perde, lo più che padre mi dicea: «Figliuole,
vienne oramai, ché ’l tempo che n’è imposto
più utilmente compartir si vuole».  

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