[Tweeters] Ironstone Mountain Trail birding

Scott Ramos lsr at ramoslink.info
Wed Sep 10 21:46:17 PDT 2014

With forecasts for yet another hot weekend in the Puget Sound lowlands, Dave Swayne and I headed up into the mountains for a little backpacking and a couple of quests: woodpeckers and raptors. We made a stop at the Angel Lake burn, Cash Prairie and Bethel Ridge radio tower, in addition to an overnighter on the Ironstone Mountain Trail, camping near Shellrock Peak. As hoped for, the weather was very pleasant at elevation: lows around 40 and highs barely reaching 70, and the birds did not disappoint. Some notables:

Golden Eagle - 2; both juveniles; 1 along NF 1500 near the junction with NF 1502; another on NF 1500 a few miles above Hwy 12
Sharp-shinned Hawk - at least 12; one juvenile was relentlessly chasing both a Northern Flicker and a Gray Jay along the trail, with lots of screeching and no satisfaction
Cooper’s Hawk - at least 4 (and one maybe Northern Goshawk)
Great Horned Owl - calling from Cash Prairie, and from near our camp at Shellrock
Williamson’s Sapsucker - we counted 13 birds along the trail, though some may have been repeats as we returned the same way; most were males; a male/female pair were flycatching from one of the treeless snags; must have been a special place as a couple of Mountain Bluebirds, a Townsend’s Solitaire and several Yellow-rumped Warblers were all flycatching from the same tree
Black-backed Woodpecker - at least 6 were at the Angel Lake burn, together with a dozen Hairy and one Downy Woodpecker; at one point there were 4 birds (2 each BBWO and HAWO) in the same tree with lots of vocalizations
Merlin - a juvenile bird was harassing the passerines near our camp at White Pass on Leech Lake
Peregrine Falcon - one bird made a fast pass-through along the trail near where the juvenile Sharpie was showing its inexperience
Flycatchers - 1 each Western Wood-Pewee, Olive-sided, Hammonds’s, Dusky, plus a couple Pacific Slope
Clark’s Nutcracker - single birds twice on the hike
Horned Lark - 3 on the ridge near Burnt Mountain
Rock Wren - 2 in the bluff below the radio tower
American Dipper - 1 at Leech Lake; we had heard a very unusual screech that neither of us could identify; then, we saw the Merlin chase a Gray Jay into the trees while the Dipper jumped into the lake and we realized that was who made the terrified call; it kept swimming until the danger passed
Townsend’s Solitaire - a couple near Angel Lake; half a dozen along the trail
Swainson’s Thrush - 2 giving quiet calls at White pass
Hermit Thrush - silent bird at the radio tower
Varied Thrush - calling at White Pass
American Pipit - half a dozen at Shellrock Lake
Lincoln’s and Fox Sparrow - a few still around, at White Pass
Warblers - a couple dozen Orange-crowned, most at White Pass; Nashville and Yellow also at White Pass; Yellow-rumped EVERYwhere, we saw several hundred

some videos:
Black-backed Woodpecker: http://youtu.be/Qw3pustTQ4g
Shellrock Lake: http://youtu.be/iYdAKWDluHY
Williamson’s Sapsucker: http://youtu.be/bjQLLBGjbPI

One our way out and back, we stopped at the marshy fields at Veazie-Cumberland Rd with 284 Ave SE, not far from Enumclaw. Dave had visited this are before, an area with fields that flood from a backed up creek. Dozens of Wilson’s Snipe and Killdeer, a few Greater Yellowlegs, a Least Sandpiper, Blue and Green-winged Teal and lots of Swallows. Definitely a place worth visiting if in the area.

Scott Ramos

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