[Tweeters] Cameron Lake Rd. Today (Okanogan Co.) and more

birdmarymoor at gmail.com birdmarymoor at gmail.com
Fri Jan 15 20:14:15 PST 2016

Tweets – Ruth Godding, Margaret Snell, Dasha Gudalewicz and I headed up Cameron Lake Rd. from the south at noon today, and had some great birding.

Low down, we had a flock of about 8 GRAY PARTRIDGE that gave us great looks. Shortly after, we came across a flock of about 30 COMMON REDPOLL including several that were very nice and pink, working weedy scrub on the southeast side of the road. (Quite a ways further up the road we had another flock of seven Gray Partridge.)

Then we came across two huge grouse in a bush right next to the road. Though I’d never seen them anywhere near so close, it was pretty obvious that these were GREATER SAGE-GROUSE! Turned out to be a female and then a male. After almost a minute they flushed, moving up and away from the road. While sitting, the (for a grouse) long beak, long head, white facial stripes, and massive size were great clues to identification of the female. When she rose to fly, her black belly came into view. The male, with his white chest came next out of the bush, and he too flew, showing his black belly and flashy wings. They landed before the ridge, but then disappeared over the ridge in a minute or so. This was approximately 12 miles north of US-97 at the Monse Bridge end of Cameron Lake Rd.

We then passed through many miles driving through the fog layer, where visibility was nil, but then emerged above. On Timentwa Rd. we came across a large (100?) flock of SNOW BUNTINGS with a good number of HORNED LARK mixed in, at one of the cattle feeding spots, giving us great looks.

Other interesting birds up there included NORTHERN SHRIKE, COOPER’S HAWK, and a male NORTHERN HARRIER, as well as quite a few COYOTES.

Later in the afternoon, we stopped at Bridgeport State Park, where Fanter Lane and his dad showed us the two NORTHERN PYGMY-OWLS in two small conifers. Very cute! Also very nice that you can drive into the park this winter. (Plus, the heated restrooms were open!)

It was getting late in the afternoon, but I figured we had time to try Bridgeport Hills Rd. Low down, we saw a bird flying away that appeared to be a PRAIRIE FALCON, and then Dasha spotted another eating prey on an electric pole.

At the usual spot a the Wells Wildlife Area, we thought we were just too late, as I glimpsed a SHARP-TAILED GROUSE just disappearing over the ridge to the east. We dutifully searched the trees as we walked up the road, but found nothing. As we made our way back to the car, though, I heard a call up near the ridge, and found two blobs that looked like grouse. A quick trip to the car for my scope, and we were looking at five Sharp-tails up near the ridge. Then five (though not (all) the same five) birds flew down and landed in the trees very close to us for stupendous views. It was a minimum of 7 birds, and maybe as many as 10 total.

All in all, a fabulous start for us in the Great North-Central Washington Birding Race that doesn’t even begin until tomorrow. We don’t even care that we don’t get any points for todays birds!

== Michael Hobbs
== www.marymoor.org/birding.htm
== BirdMarymoor at frontier.com

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