[Tweeters] Okanogan/Douglas County Bird Report with Updated PHOTOS (Longish)

Khanh Tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Thu Mar 17 15:25:45 PDT 2016


Hi Tweeters:

Mid-March can be an interesting and fun time to bird in the Okanogan Highlands and Waterville Plateau. I am always curious what the wintering species do during this period. It can be an ideal time to see large flocks of certain species, and some, in their breeding plumages. The weather was not great this past weekend with mixed rain, snow and wind. After the storms, there was a brief period of calmness and the birds were out in full force.

I normally don’t use the word ‘epic’ and have seen great birds and had some amazing encounters over the years up there! However, this weekend was very special. I got to show, two up-and-coming, young birders (Walker Noe and his brother Dalton), my favorite birding haunts. I got choked up watching their reactions when they saw their lifer GREAT GRAY OWL. The regal bird was in perfect light and down low.

It was also Judy’s 70th Birthday. This is the gracious lady and host who maintains the Nealey Feeders near Chesaw for the last 10 years. Since I have known her, she is more engaged and interested in birds. Her place has hosted Gray Crowned Rosy-finches, Pine Grosbeaks, Common Redpolls, White winged Crossbills, Northern Pygmy Owl, Northern Goshawk, Dusky and Ruffed Grouse. She is very appreciative of all the visiting birders and those who have donated bird seed! I am thankful for her friendship and generosity, and she makes me feel like family. We are all lucky to have such an accommodating host!@

It is all started with me knocking at her door and asking for permission to get close to the birds in her yard. Years ago, Judy bailed me out when my jeep broke down along Mary Ann Creek Rd. En route, we encountered a Great Gray Owl and she was blown away! Every year, she looks forward to the returning Bohemian Waxwings and Rosy-finches.

I don’t mean to gloat or create possible jealous or envy from what I see and photograph. What I hope is, my bird reports (and from others) and photos will inspire and motivate birders to explore the area. Directly or indirectly, there are more birders in the Okanogan in the last few years. It has been all positive. Birders boosting the economy, learning about the terrain and special birds, and developing a good, interpersonal relationship with the locals (Judy Howlett, Gary Eagle, and Meredith Spencer). On holiday weekends, some of the hotels rent out 20-25 rooms average during a time when it’s slow. The Breadline owner in Omak, Paula appreciates the patronage and is often chatty and interested in what we see!

Over the last 10 years, I have spent many countless, hours driving and hiking up there to look and learn about these special and challenging birds. My persistence and efforts has finally paid off. Much of my success also has to do with luck and karma! My hobby has now become a successful business (not entirely comfortable with it at times), so I don’t post as much (limited time, I work a 40 hour job during the week) or reveal locations for sensitive birds. My bird reports have been detailed and revealing, if you go back several years and search the Tweeters archives. Recently, some birders have accused me of being greedy and not willing to share information.

There are lots of good habitat up there to explore. I always keep an open mind and look in new places for target species besides stakeouts. I try to do a few, new roads when I am up there. And if I don’t’ see birds, it can reward me with beautiful scenery or other interesting wildlife such as a bobcat or wolves!

With the recent big fires, it will be interesting what it will bring in the future. Already, I found two new, winter feeding locations for Sharp tailed Grouse. Each hosted 8-15 birds besides the stakeout areas in Conconully and Bridgeport! It was on roads less traveled and I was pleasantly rewarded. Be great to see more woodpeckers and breeding hawkowls! I can't wait to see what we all discover with more interest and birders' coverage!


Many thanks to Stefan Schlick for encouraging me to become a bird guide. He is one of the best birders around, well-traveled, knowledgeable, and sharp. An can’t forget Andy Stepniewski’s influence and knowledge of the vast area which has helped many birders, including me.

There were several highlights from this past weekend. Seeing FOUR Great Gray Owls hunting over an hour time, was SURREAL. One successfully grabbed a pocket gopher and ate it right in front of me! I also had a close encounter with a male, American 3-Toed Woodpecker. It was at eye level for 15 minute and--- wow, what a gorgeous bird upclose!

Link to updated PHOTOS:

https://www.flickr.com/photos/23662496@N02/

Species Highlight for Trip:

Prairie Falcon –two birds near Mansfield
Peregrine Falcon-gorgeous bird on glacial erractic near Mansfield
Great Horned Owl-several at dusk on Havillah Rd, pairs on Bridgeport Hill Rd, and Conconully Rd
Northern Pygmy Owl –one bird near Chesaw
Great Gray Owl-FIVE birds total, with seeing 4 birds in an hour. on Hungry Hollow, Nealey, Sno-Park, Swainson Mill Rd, and Pontiac Ridge Rd
Great Sage Grouse-3 birds along Division near Mansfield.
Gray Partridge-small convey of 10 birds on Nealey Rd
Ruffed Grouse-single birds along Nealey and Bolster Rd
White headed Woodpecker-one male near Visser Ranch and 2 pairs on Cameron Lake Rd
American Three Toed Woodpecker-a stunning male up close at eye level in Sno-Park
Williamson's Sapsuckers-6-8 pairs drumming and calling away in near Sno-Park and OkanoganHighlands
Bohemian Waxwings-flock of 600 along Century Ferry Canyon Rd
Snow Buntings-a mesmerizing flock of a 1000 plus birds on F Rd near LaMoine
Lapland Longspurs-at least 5 birds in a flock of 1000 plus Snow Buntings on F Rd near LaMoine
Common Redpolls-several flocks of 200-300 birds on Mary Ann Creek Rd and Hungry Hollow Rd
Pine Grosbeaks-flock of 12 birds on Bolster Rd
Gray crowned Rosy-finches-a flock of 300 plus birds on Mary Ann Creek Rd swirling by us several times
White winged Crossbills-small flock of 5 birds on Mary Ann Creek Rd


Peace, love and good birding!


Khanh Tran


www.ktbirding.com




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