[Tweeters] Paradise Ptarmigan

Scott Ramos lsr at ramoslink.info
Mon Aug 18 21:53:25 PDT 2014

The intermittent rain at Paradise never amounted to anything more than an annoyance and the fog kept the glare down for 11 birders looking for high elevation birds on Friday, August 15. The birding started off well with Rufous Hummingbird and Orange-crowned Warbler in the flower beds behind the visitor center. The 6-mile hike on the Skyline Loop Trail meanders through alpine meadows, climbs above tree-line to talus slopes and returns in a steep descent to the parking area. During the day, we had 28 species of mostly expected birds (we missed the rosy finches seen only days earlier), but many of those got rave reviews.

American Dipper - a pair were working both sides of the footbridge at Myrtle Falls; one of them kept walking over to the precipice yet continued to dip for food, leaving an enveloping wash of water
Sooty Grouse - a male bird gave good looks through the shrouding fog
Sharp-shinned Hawk - one bird chased off a small group of Mountain Bluebird; another made a quick fly-by at about 6500 feet
MacGillivray’s Warbler - two non-adult birds in a small Doug Fir
Varied Thrush, American Pipit, and Red Crossbill (type 4) were heard only

The highlight of the day was the sighting of two male White-tailed Ptarmigan on a ledge above the trail. At first just sitting, they started moving around about the time we saw a person walking a few feet away, also on the ledge. When we realized that our trail did a switch-back up to that location, we went the extra few feet to amazing views of the two birds practically at our feet. Then, they walked towards us for even better looks!

Oh, and the wildflowers were just about at their peak, making for a very rewarding day.
Checklist: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S19503023
Scott Ramos and Evan Houston

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