[Tweeters] Okanogan and Douglas County--cluck, cheep and woof Trip Report

Khanh Tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Wed Jan 28 13:32:06 PST 2015

Hi Tweets:

We had a wonderful trip to Douglas and Okanogan Counties this past weekend. The weather was calm, cloudy but mostly foggy the entire time. This made it quite challenging to find and photograph our target birds but, we managed to do really well. The fancy chickens were more elusive with less snow cover below the 2500 ft level, but a few were found! Overall, the birding activity has been the same since late November, very slow-- but the quality, is really high. With persistence and luck, we found almost all of our target birds. You can never have a bad time birding in the Magical Okanogan and Douglas Counties!

There were many fun highlights but the surprise was finding a WOLF in the Okanogan Highlands. The magnificent critter was quite cooperative and I was able to get distant photos. It was my first WA wolf sighting after seeing several in the Yukon, BC, Alaska, and NWT. More details are posted with the photo on my Flickr site.

Other cool moments included a lone SHARP TAILED GROUSE that fed about 8 feet above heads, a huge flock of 400 plus SNOW BUNTINGS feeding right by our car—the Escher snowbirds are so mesmerizing to watch in a huge flock, and the acrobatic COMMON REDPOLLS, put on a nice show! The fog prone, Waterville Plateau produced two GYRFALCONS, and a beautiful, darkly patterned SNOWY OWL. We had no problems finding NORTHERN PYGMY OWLS, seeing 12 different birds over this past weekend in Conconully and the Okanogan Highlands. It is a banner year for them and almost annually, one or two of these tennis ball-sized owls with a tail, return within a few hundred years of their preferred wintering haunts and territories.

Here is the list of highlights:

Wolf- an exciting find with the awesome beast, spotted not far from Chesaw, WA

Gyrfalcon- Two birds, one along H and Hwy 172 near Mansfield, other along Lamoine. Both birds seen within 1 hours from each other!

Prairie Falcon –several birds along Scotch Creek, Cameron Lake Rd, and Okanogan Highland. Totaling 5 birds

Golden Eagle-several birds along Scotch Creek Rd and one, close up bird on Cameron Lake Rd,

Sharp tailed Grouse- one cooperative bird along Bridgeport Hill Rd feeding very close to our car

Gray Partridge- great views of several conveys of 3-15 birds along Cameron Lake Rd and Withow.

Ruffed Grouse-fantastic looks of several birds along Mary Ann Creek and Nealey Rd

Northern Saw-Whet Owl –great looks of a roosting bird

Great Horned Owl –several birds along Havillah Rd at dusk and one pair along Hwy 172 roosting in the day

Snowy Owl –one darkly, pattered bird along H and Hwy 172. There are now two birds in that area, with the other being much whiter.

Northern Pygmy Owl –EVERYWHERE with one bird in Conconully and 11 birds in the Okanogan Highlands!! A total of 12!

Bohemian Waxwings – A large flock of 400 birds near the town of Bridgeport, WA

Snow Buntings-several large flocks of 100-400 birds near Sitzmark Ski Area and Cameron Lake Rd

American Tree Sparrows-up to two dozen birds along Cameron Lake Rd and Hertiage Rd

Gray Crowned Rosy-finches-the reliable, spumoni snowbirds still prefer the feeder bar along Nealey Rd. About 35 birds.

Pine Grosbeaks-a flock of 12 birds near the town of Chesaw

Common Redpolls-a cooperative flock actively feeding for about 10 minutes in ornamental trees near Bolster Rd.

A few photos can be seen here:


Good birding,

Khanh Tran


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