[Tweeters] Extreme (northeast) Skagit County birding: Part I (August 22 eve, August 23)

Scott scottratkinson at hotmail.com
Tue Aug 26 17:30:56 PDT 2014


Although the full bird list will be posted to Ebird in two segments, just thought I would share a remarkable 3 days--August 23-25--spent in the high North Cascades. It had not been since the Mt. Hardy scramble (up into, and beyond the burn to the peak) that I had experienced such an adventure. Like Mt. Hardy, this one required all the stamina I could muster, as I overnighted at 6800' Cutthroat Pass (5 miles from Rainy Pass) and ventured north from there, to 6300' Granite Pass, and most of the way to Methow Pass. I went looking especially for the northern goodies like Franklin's Spruce Grouse, WT Ptarmigan, Boreal Chickadee and Wolverine. I did not find any of these, but managed 55 bird species (this included birding along Hwy 20 as at the Mt. Hardy parking site).

Arriving just before dusk on August 22, I spotted a PYGMY NUTHATCH at the parking area for Mt. Hardy in a mixed flock of migrant warblers and RB Nuthatches. Amazingly, it or another was heard only at the Rainy Pass trailhead/parking area the next morning. This is my 2nd encounter for the species in this area, but for Skagit County as a whole, there are just now four records/reports, 3 from this area, plus a potential 5th if one report at Larrabee SP referred to the Skagit part of that park.

Warblers were much in evidence the morning of the 23rd, mostly between the Mt. Hardy burn and Rainy Pass. I had about 140 individuals of 7 species, with YELLOW-RUMPED (92) and TOWNSEND'S (31) being most numerous, while 2 NASHVILLES were also found near the Easy Pass trailhead. Along the way to Cutthroat Pass, it was clear that locally-breeding RUBY-CROWNED KINGLETS were around, with 4 birds counted. At the pass itself, and a early warning of things to come, there were lots of migrants right along the ridge--a flock of 14 CHIPPING SPARROWS was joined by two VESPERS, a SAVANNAH, and two Spizella, sp, one of which was probably a BREWER'S. A PRAIRIE FALCON and two ROSY FINCHES came southbound over the pass about 5 pm. My first ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER was of the east-side orestera form here, and a flock of 45 BLUEBIRD, sp flew over also.

Just about midnight, in the northernmost stand of spruces and larches at the pass, I was awakened by the sound of two BOREAL OWLS, giving the irritation call (as opposed to the "skiew" type) right above the tent! Another (or one of the same two) bird(s) was heard further down into the valley on the 25th pre-dawn, this bird giving the more-familiar tooting series.

Scott AtkinsonLake Stevensmail to: scottratkinson at hotmail.com

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