[Tweeters] King County two grouse morning

Tim Brennan tsbrennan at hotmail.com
Tue Apr 9 13:37:21 PDT 2013

Hey Tweets! There was an ebird report for Mount Macdonald (near Kanasket... although, funny story my wife thought I said "Tonasket"! Imagine her surprise when she went to mapquest... anyway) in southeast King County that mentioned Mountain and Western Bluebirds, as well as Ruffed Grouse. I made a short walk up it with my kids a few weeks ago, and now had time to properly walk it today. I got to the trailhead at a little after 6, and the Varied Thrushes and Pacific Wrens were already starting the soundtrack that I would hear the entire way up and down. During the first stretch of the walk, the background babbling and fluting was interrupted twice - once by the clapping of a Band-tailed Pigeon, and once by a Pileated Woodpecker. Just a heads-up if you do hike it - during the first stretch you will arrive fairly quickly at an innocent little stream that crosses the trail. It's no big deal, really; the trail just has a little dip down, you step over the little stream, and then it rises back up. It's just that you have to repeat this process about 50 times in the first 30 minutes or so.... When you get to the two little skunk cabbage by a little pool on the side of the trail, you're almost done with the up-and-down nonsense, and the trail is actually an easy walk the rest of the way. It was during that second stretch, maybe 40 minutes into the walk, that I heard a Ruffed Grouse drumming from the side of the trail. It did not repeat the drumming, and I passed this area slowly on the way down with no luck in relocating the grouse. After another fairly uneventful 20 minutes (total time from the car was just over an hour), the trail exits the dense forest into a clear cut. I can only imagine that this is where the bluebirds were found. I had my first White-crowned Sparrows and Steller's Jays of the walk, and halfway through the clear cut, I heard the booming of a Sooty Grouse. I have only had Sooty Grouse one other time in the county, so I was pretty excited :) After 40 minutes continuing up the trail to the other side of the clear cut and a little exploring up the snowy part of the trail(s), the booming of grouse was no longer as surprising - there were at least a dozen up there, and one would guess more, calling from the clear cut and from the woods above. After hiking a ways up the snowy (not that snowy... it didn't cover my shoes) main trail, I stopped and tried calling for Northern Pygmy Owl. After listening to Varied Thrushes, Sooty Grouse and Pacific Wren for a few minutes, I finally got a distant response from a Northern Pygmy-Owl. On the return down the hill, I returned to the clear cut, and was greeted by calls from a Townsend's Solitaire. I couldn't locate this bird either, and had nothing out of the ordinary the rest of the way down the hill - back in my car shortly after ten o'clock. Great spot, and I definitely want to get back once more birds have made their way back - MacGillivray's Warbler and Olive-sided Flycatcher would have to love it in that clear cut, and it seems like it would have to have other surprises as well. Happy Birding! Tim BrennanRenton

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