[Tweeters] New Year's birding in Okanogan/Douglas Co. (Updated PHOTOS) mostly owls and other winter birds

Khanh Tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Tue Jan 5 18:33:23 PST 2016

Hi Tweets:  

On Sunday (Jan. 3rd), our last day of birding was great.  We birded in Okanogan, Douglas, and a bit in Grant County but just along Hwy 283. Conconully was very quiet but there were a few good birds.  The Waterville Plateau had better visibility but lackluster in activity.  We found little birds or raptors of any kind but lots of Horned Larks (hundreds to thousands).   

Overall it was a terrific trip with seeing up to 8 species of owls and almost all of our winter targets except for American Tree Sparrows.   Got to love these beautiful but nomadic birds.  Every day is different with new challenges, so it's best to keep an open mind. Persistence and luck has a lot to do with finding them!  I encourage all to try new roads and locations as depletion of food source , weather and snow levels may cause a shift in species numbers and locations.  Most of these birds have such variable food sources and move around so much!  I suspect some of the Common Redpolls, Red and White winged Crossbills may have disperse to lower elevations in Omak, Okanogan or Conconully.  There are so many conifers with cones in these towns!  

It has been really challenging but fun to learn and understand these wintering birds over the last 8 years. I still have a lot to learn and many unanswered questions.  

Good luck to all birders in the weeks to come!  You can never have a bad time in the Magical Okanogan and the winter scenery is stunning! 

Here is compilation of what we saw during the entire 3 days (Jan 1st-Jan 3rd): 

NORTHERN HAWK OWL--the reliable bird Jan 1-3rd. I was happy that it was eating well and tucked away from the busy highway to avoid being hit by cars!

GREAT GRAY OWL- two regal birds in two separate locations Jan. 2nd  afternoon in expected habitat near Chesaw 
SNOWY OWL-gorgeously, dark patterned bird at corner of Division and Hwy 172 west of Mansfield 
Short eared Owl- one bird on fence post near Havillah and Chesaw Rd
Long eared Owl-one bird roosting in dense tree copse  
Northern Saw-Whet Owls- Bridgeport State Park 
Northern Pygmy Owl-up to three birds near Chesaw and Bolster Rd 
Great Horned Owl-a couple birds in lower elevation of Havillah  Rd 
GYRFALCON-brief views near Soap Lake along the cliffs 
NORTHERN GOSHAWK- a cooperative juvenile along Conconully Rd 
Golden Eagle-an adult near Sun Lakes 
Prairie Falcon-along Hwy 283 near town of Ephrata  
SHARP TAILED GROUSE-several birds along Bridgeport Hill Rd others reported near Happy Hill Rd 
Gray Partridge-conveys of 16 birds Nealy Rd, 12 on Conconully Rd, 5 in Lamoine, 8 along Heritage Rd, and 3 in Ephrata 
Chukar-a small convey near Sun Lakes Resort  
BOHEMIAN WAXWINGS-only one flock of 100 plus birds at eye level near Omak City Park
LAPLAND LONGSPURS-great looks of a couple birds along Hwy 172 and H NE
Snow Buntings-30-40 birds on Cameron Lake Rd, small flocks near Mansfield and Withow  
Gray-crowned Rosy-finch-125 birds along Nealy Rd and 8 birds along Conconully Rd 
Pine Grosbeaks-several large flocks of 12-15 birds near Bolster Rd, and Mary Ann Creek Rd 
COMMON REDPOLLS-small flocks along Nealy Rd, Mary Ann Creek Rd, and Central Ferry Canyon Rd

WHITE WINGED CROSSBILLS-only one pair along seen along Nealy Rd and heard only on Bolster Rd.  Couldn't find any large flocks that I saw earlier in November and mid-December. 

Red Crossbills-only 6 birds along Cameron Lake Road, none in the Highlands!

Here are the update PHOTOS.  Hope you will enjoy as much as I love winter birding!!!


Happy New Year to all and wishing you joy and happiness in your birding pursuits.  Be kind and helpful to others and karma will reward you!!

Peace and love,  

Khanh Tran 


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