[Tweeters] Okanogan & Douglas Co.; Lots of White-Crossbills, Sharp tailed Grouse, and fancy chickens!

Khanh Tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 13 20:56:20 PST 2016

Hi Tweeters: 

Birded Okanogan and Douglas County this weekend and noticed some changes in overall birding activity and the number of species. The weather was about 10 degrees (35F) warmer than last weekend with cloudy conditions, but calm. 

I consider Okanogan County as my second home and LOVE the birds, terrain, and the people. The hawk owl incident was a tragedy and hope, it will be an exception!!  I kept my spirits up by remembering how wonderful and magical the place is! 

In the nine years that I have birded here, I have never encountered any hostile property owners! I always get permission if I linger near their homes for an extended period while looking for birds. Often, I make an effort to introduce myself and tell them what I am doing.  And in turn, they show an interest in the birds or me.  It's been all positive and rewarding.  As a nice gesture,  I have given some residents bird feeders for allowing me to look or roam near their properties.  When I check back, they share with me how excited they got about a new bird at their feeder. These small things often bring me a lot of joy and good birding karma.   

Also, there are now more birders than ever that are interested in this vast area, especially for winter birding.  A great time to boost the town's economy during a lull period (January to March)!  I know more than 25-30 rooms are rented out during certain holiday weekends hosting birders!  That's just terrific.  

Now back to the birds:) 

The flocks of White winged crossbills have invaded the small towns in both counties. I hit the jackpot in Conconully with lots of good birds the hour that I was there! Fancy chickens were in full force and it was almost like a gaudy parade!  I set a personal record of seeing 250 plus Gray Partridges in Douglas County. Saw many Sharp tailed Grouse in several locations with a large group of 16 and 25 birds, in their usual stake out locations. Even had a trio of Great Sage Grouse! I suspect with the roads being exposed and thawed out, the birds concentrated along the roadside for protection (camouflage) and food (exposed vegetation, grass and grit). Hundreds of California Quail and dozens of Ring necked Pheasant were also seen!  Ironically, there were very few raptors of any kind with all these chickens around!  

 Just super fun!  

Here are the list of highlights: 

Great Gray Owl- one bird at first light along Pontiac Ridge Rd
Snowy Owl-continuing bird along Hwy 172 and Division 600-800 yards out on glacial erratic 
Short Eared-two birds along Havillah Rd 
Northern Pygmy Owls-up to six birds near Chesaw and Havillah. Several birds hunting a few feet off the ground including one on a cattail!
Northern Saw-whets-two birds at Bridgeport State Park, these birds have been changing their roosting sites 
Sharp tailed Grouse-2 birds along Mary Ann Creek, 16 Happy Hill Rd, and 25 along Bridgeport Hill Rd
Greater Sage Grouse-flushed three birds driving along Hwy 172 east of Mansfield and Heritage 
Chukar-20 birds along Fancher Dam, 25 birds along Conconully Rd, and 12 in Bridgeport near dam
Gray Partridge-EVERY WHERE!!!, about 50-60 birds in Okanogan Highlands, 30 near Conconully, 250 plus birds around Mansfield area
Ruffed Grouse-finally a couple birds along Bolster Rd 
Northern Goshawk-two birds in Conconully (adult and immature), one immature in Mansfield, and adult on Bartroff Rd
Prairie Falcon-one bird along Bridgeport Hill Rd
Snow Buntings-flock of 100 birds along Molson, birds along Mansfield, flock of 200 birds along Cameron Lake Rd
Lapland Longspur -a couple birds along Fancher Rd and two birds along Hwy 172 and H NE 
Bohemian Waxwings-only one flock of 75 birds in Bridgeport State Park, they have been tough to find the last couple of trips 
American Tree Sparrows-finally a flock of 15 birds along Cameron Lake Rd
American 3 Toe Woodpecker-one bird along Pontiac Ridge Rd
Black Backed Woodpecker-one bird in Havillah Sno-Park 
Gray Crowned Rosyfinches- flock of 75 birds at Nealey feeders, 100 plus near Riverside Cut-off Rd near Conconully
Pine Grosbeaks-many flocks of 10-25 birds along Pontiac Ridge, Mary Ann Creek Rd, and Conconully
White winged Crossbills-20 birds in Conconully, 7 in Mansfield, 10 in Okanogan town, and 20-30 birds in Okanogan Highlands, 
Common Redpolls-flock 65 birds along Bolster, a few along Mary Ann Creek Rd, and Pontiac Ridge Rd. 

Here are a few updated photos..


Good birding, 

Khanh Tran 

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