[Tweeters] Waterville Plateau

Marcus Roening Marcus.D.Roening at gsk.com
Sun Mar 16 15:26:00 PDT 2014


On Saturday, Heather and I looped around the Waterville Plateau for a very non-"winter" day. We went up on the west side of the plateau via McNeil Canyon. At 7:00 am in the morning it was already 38F and snow was limited to isolated patches on north facing slopes and the Swales had free standing water. Our goal was to see the Greater Sage-Grouse on their lek at Leahy in the NE section of the plateau. Hwy 172 across the plateau had very few birds. We only saw one RL Hawk and a pair of northern Harriers. Our single falcon was an American Kestral.

We arrived a little before 8 am at the lek and we could see 4 birds strutting their ermine stoles and pointy fanned tail feathers. It is a pretty amazing sight. Although the birds are a out a half mile to the south on private land, so a scope is required to get a good view. It soon became apparent that we were almost too late in the day, as a Golden Eagle flew in looking for a meal. Unfortunately for the eagle, they all flew north over us on the road and down into a ravine. Fun to see them in flight.

On the way out to the east there is a large lone pine that had a very interesting Harlan's Hawk. From a distance it was chocolate brown with a very light colored head and upper breast that gave the impression of a Rough-legged Hawk. But on closer inspection the chocolate brown back was completely dappled with white and the head was a very light caramel color. The tail was red, but had wavy cream colored bars, a black sub-terminal band and white tips - quite a striking plumage.

A bit further east is a lone farm house with a shelter belt of trees, that had Say's Phoebe and Mountain Bluebird.

Later in the day we stopped at Bridgeport SP in hopes of finding some owls, but no luck. We talked to some campground hosts who said they stopped hearing the Saw-whets a couple of weeks ago. We did locate a northern Shrike in the day use picnic area.

>From there we headed to Cassimer Bar on the Columbia River in Okanogan county. The road was in good shape all the way to the end. At the turn for the final 1/2 mile of road was a good flock of robins, sparrows and juncos. All the sparrows we saw were White-crowned, but we did have a nice Slate-colored Junco mixed in with the Oregon juncos.

We also had a nice collection of ducks in the sloughs and on the river, including Canvasbacks, Ring-necked Ducks, Hooded Merganser and Wood Duck. At the end of the path to the river we had good looks at a Blue Heron Rookery with about 25 Great Blues and at least 6 attending Bald Eagles. Kind of wonder what their success ratio will be.

Good Birding,

Marcus Roening,
Tacoma. WA
C: 253-988-8313
Marcus.d.roening at gsk.com

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