[Tweeters] Sunrise birding in a crowd

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Thu Jul 23 13:47:59 PDT 2015


Hi Tweets -
On Saturday (7/18), Jean Olson and I led a group of 7 eager birders on a fairly rigorous, but rewarding hike up Mt. Fremont and back through the Shadow Lake area of Sunrise in Mt Rainier NP. Parts of the trip followed the route of Brian Bell's WOS trip on 7/13, that Brian reported on 7/14. Most of us left the Ravenna P&R about 0650. We made a quick stop at FS 70 south of Greenwater but found the abandoned road that was very birdy on the WOS trip, to be occupied by campers. In the parking area there, we picked up White-crowned Sparrow, Evening Grosbeak, Violet-green Swallow, Swainson's Thrush, Dark-eyed Junco, Pacific Wren, and Red Crossbills (most of these heard only). More Juncos were seen, and a Golden-crowned kinglet heard while waiting in line at the entrance. We made a brief stop at the Sunrise Campground which was pretty crowded and relatively bird free (Steller's Jay heard). In looking out across the White River, we did see Cedar Waxwings, and sharp-eyed Dave Swayne picked out an American Dipper perched on a boulder in this largely bug-free stream. (We surmised it must feed in the clear-water side channels.) Stopping on the road up to Sunrise, we had multiple Hermit Thrush and a distant Varied Thrush singing, and a small family group of Townsend's Warblers.
Nearing the Sunrise parking area about 1020 skies were clear and winds were calm. At a roadside stop, just before the parking lot, we saw Yellow-rumped Warbler, Chipping Sparrow, Pine Siskin, American Robin, Mountain Bluebird, Clark's Nutcracker, and Townsend's Solitaire. We set out through the picnic area, finding more Siskins (also seen repeatedly through the day), Chipping Sparrows, Yellow-rumps, along with Orange-crowned Warbler. Along the Sourdough Ridge trail we saw distant American Kestrel and Prairie Falcon and then were treated to a close flyby from a Prairie Falcon. An immature Red-tailed Hawk seen down in the Shadow Lake area. Approaching (un)Frozen Lake, we had nice views of a huge group of 30 - 40 mountain goats with several kids, lying on the limited area of remaining snow patch and adjacent rocks on the east rim of First Burroughs. Marmots were active at two locations along the trail.
Heading up the trail through the waning summer flowers (and leap-frogging masses of 'tourists', aka non-birders), we had our first Common Raven and near Frozen Lake our first American Pipits. Most of the trail to, and the summit of Mt. Fremont were bird-free except for a few ravens and two Townsend's Solitaires. The hoped for WT Ptarmigan (seen the day before and the day after our trip!) seemed to have vacated the heavy traffic zone. But, the views of the Mountain, with occasional avalanches off Willis Wall and another mountain goat mom and kid made it all worthwhile. Disappointed by the lack of Ptarmigan, we headed back down and found juvenile Horned Lark close by the trail near Frozen Lake.
The lovely hike down past Shadow Lake and back up to the parking lot yielded quite a few birds including our first Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain and Chestnut-sided Chickadee, and a small group of Band-tailed Pigeon. Pikas were heard but not seen.
During our mandatory (90 degrees in the valley) ice cream stop at Wapiti Woolens, we were treated to the aerobatics of several Vaux's Swifts and on the road home, we picked up several of the common roadside birds for a total of 43 species. Next year, we're thinking mid-week!!

Jon Houghton, Edmonds


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