[Tweeters] More from Okanagon/Waterville - It's the Birds AND the People

Blair Bernson blair at washingtonadvisorygroup.com
Wed Feb 20 08:41:48 PST 2013

I love Tweeters as a community - of people who
share their interest, love, successes and failures
... mostly about birds. In that vein:
The three things I most love about birding are the
wonderful birds I see (or sometimes don't), the
wonderful places this activity takes me (even the
STP's LOL!!) and the people that you meet along
the way.

Okanogan/Waterville Special Birds this trip: In
addition to the Great Gray - Snow Buntings and
Gray Crowned Rosy Finches (far fewer than last
year); Bohemian Waxwings (far more than EVER);
Great Horned Owl on nest; Saw Whet Owl
(Picturesque in convenient tree); Black Backed
Woodpecker (Packwood Cemetery); a flock of at
least 50 California Quail (could have been 100);
Golden Eagle in majestic pose; at least 60 Bald
Eagles; a spectacular Peregrine Falcon (see below)
and many Rough Legs in all phases.

Places: The area is simply stunning (except for
Brewster and Bridgeport)... the vastness of the
Highlands and the Plateau where you can go for
miles without seeing anyone (and then the next
person you see is often another birder). Never
had been to Havillah - beautiful - or Central
Ferry Canyon area - also beautiful - and the
entire Waterville Plateau is beautiful in the snow.

People: Seeing people in the field that had only
been "Tweeter Names" before like Guy McWethy and
Stefan Schlick on the Plateau. Visiting with Carol
Riddell at the remote Havillah Sno Park and
finding out that she lives only a mile from me
(and of course many thanks again for her help in
getting my car out of the snow there). And the
doctor from Tonasket who told me of cougar tracks
at the Sno Park and the local (4 miles away) lady
again at Havillah who towed the car out. Bumping
into "Duke" at Withrow with his hunting Peregrine
(he is licensed and does this for a business). We
talked for 30 minutes about his experiences in the
area and with his birds. The number of Gyr's he
sees is staggering. The guy behind the counter at
the Tribal Gas Station who when he saw my
binoculars asked if I was doing a "Great Year".
He had seen the movie "Big Year" and although
misnamed had the concept down and thought it was
really cool. I told him I hoped to find a Great
Gray Owl and he gave me one of the most sincere
and best well wishes I have ever had. The fellow
from north central B.C. who had overheard my Great
Gray discussion with the clerk and came up to me
outside to tell me how the Great Gray's were
pretty common up north where he lived - still
another 500 miles away.

And then you put people, birds and places together
- the community of Tweeters: Shep Thorpe posts
about their trip including the Saw Whet Owls at
Bridgeport...a bird I had seen this year (thank
you Jamie Acker) but really wanted to photograph.
When I bumped into Guy McWethy on the Plateau, not
only did he point out the Snow Buntings that flew
right over us, he also invited me to join his
troop as they were off to seek the Black Backed
Woodpecker at Packwood Cemetery, AND he gave very
specific directions on where to find the Saw Whet
Owl. Later that night as I was rescued by Carol,
I passed on those directions to her as she wanted
to stop on her way home. The next day as I was
heading up the Bridgeport Park road to seek the
Saw Whet, Carol was coming out. She turned around
and the big smile confirmed she had found the
owl. She went back to the Park with me and
pointed out the very easily seen photogenic Saw
Whet just where I had earlier told her it was
supposed to be. As we arrived at the spot,
another birder was getting out of his car. It was
Bill Boyington who I had met at the Bellevue
Redpoll sight last week. He too was looking for
the owl and had no idea where it was. We took him
to the bird (he would have missed it)...so a happy
ending for all. Great bird in a great place with
great people. Way to go Tweeters!!!

Blair Bernson

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