[Tweeters] Okanogan trip (Methow Valley area) this past week

Evan Houston evanghouston at yahoo.com
Fri Jun 21 22:03:18 PDT 2013

Hi Tweeters,

My family and I just returned from a trip to Okanogan Co. from Saturday to Thursday (6/15 to 6/20/13).  This was particularly exciting for me since it was my first time in this great county in the summer.  We stayed at a rental house in the Methow Valley near Mazama and did a number of day trips, mainly day hikes and shorter strolls.  It wasn't a dedicated birding trip since my family hasn't been converted into birders, but I was "allowed" to make some short birding trips, and also to stop on hikes for cool birds!  

I found a total of 118 species in the county, and below I'm listing some of my favorite highlights in taxonomic order.  My favorite areas for birds on the trips (feel free to ask me for more details; these sites are listed in the "Birder's Guide to WA") were Sun Mountain Lodge grounds/Beaver Lake, Pipestone Canyon, Methow Community trail, Tiffany Mountain, and the first half mile of the trail to Crater Lakes (accessed off of Gold Creek from 153).

- A slideshow of some of my favorite opportunistic photos is at the following link - go to the link, click on the upper left photo, and advance by pressing the "right" arrow (also just below each photo is a caption):  

- Dusky Grouse - on grounds at Sun Mountain Lodge, great views of this lifer displaying - video here (also my understanding is that this is the likely species I flushed at Tiffany Mountain):  

- Golden Eagle - 1 at Tiffany Mountain, and a pair at Pipestone Canyon

- Long-eared Owl - the most unexpected bird on the trip - I decided to investigate what a few songbirds were mobbing on the Tiffany Mountain hike, and after a few times of accidentally flushing the bird from dense cover, it finally chose a perch that allowed me to see it

- all 3 swift species on the same day - by far my favorite was a random stop near Patterson Lake on a cloudy morning and noticing Black Swifts descending into the area - I counted at least 85 in the flock!  A so-so video captured by aiming by camera at the sky is here:

- Williamson's Sapsucker - a nesting pair encountered in the birdy first section of the Crater Lakes hike - this was a species I was really hoping to find!

- Least Flycatcher - Eric Heisey showed me at least 2 one morning on a tour of the Methow Community Trail area (one was heard from the Edelweiss Meadows on Goat Creek Rd.), and I found another near the southeast corner of Patterson Lake

- American Redstart - Eric Heisey found 1 adult male on the Methow Community Trail (accessed by walking west from the "suspension bridge" access point for about 2 miles - just after you cross a bridge), and I found another singing first year male about a half mile down the main trail at the Big Valley Unit.  Video of the adult male singing here (with a nice chorus of Veeries):

- Western Tanager - 1 nice male allowed me to get a video:

Good birding, 
Evan Houston 
Seattle, WA

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