[Tweeters] Okanogan Birds, June 5-8, 2015

lsr at ramoslink.info lsr at ramoslink.info
Wed Jun 10 12:46:09 PDT 2015

As part of our (almost) annual birding/camping trip, several classmates
from the 2011 SAS Master Birder class gathered at Lost Lake for a long
weekend. We were fortunate to have missed the clamorous thunder and rain
storms of the week before, but had instead to deal with extreme heat in the
valleys: a stop near Wenatchee on the way home registered 104 degrees!

On our way east, we traveled Hwy 20 and stopped at the Agg Ponds near
Newhalem and the Loup Loup Campground east of Twisp. On our daily sojourns,
we visited several spots in the Okanogan Highlands. Finally, we drove the
Sinlahekin valley during our return to Seattle.

Our trip list counted 133 species, but the most fun was in finding some of
the less common birds and having an opportunity to study them.

At the Agg Ponds near Newhalem were at least half a dozen American
Redstart, of which at least 4 were males; although known as a likely spot
for this species, it was nevertheless a special treat to see so many. Also
present were a couple of singing Red-eyed Vireo foraging the same area as
Warbling and Cassin's Vireo, making for great song comparisons.

We walked around the Loup Loup Campground, not knowing what to expect and
heard a call that was reminiscent of a Townsend's Solitaire, a single
plaintive note repeated every few seconds. We were surprised to eventually
discover an American Robin doing the deception. The next surprise was a
Black-backed Woodpecker, actively inspecting trees in the campground.

One of the highlights of the trip, of course, was the pair of Common Loons
on Lost Lake. Nesting here for several years, this pair did not have
chicks; Neil and Carleen, who joined us at the campground, had seen a pair
with chicks at Swan Lake earlier. Nothing more satisfying than being
awakened (even at 3:00 am!) by loon calls. Also at Lost Lake were Great
Horned Owl (as many as 3 calling simultaneously, early), winnowing Wilson's
Snipe and calling Sora. The deafening dawn chorus every morning at the lake
was in itself worth the long drive from Seattle.

Walks around the campground did produce other nice birds, including an
American Three-toed Woodpecker along the Big Trees Trail. This male bird
was very busily excavating a new hole.

Several ducks were spotted among the different lakes we visited; the best
concentration was found in the marshy pond at the west end of Mary Ann
Creek Rd where it drops down to Molson Rd: Blue-winged Teal, Cinnamon Teal,
Northern Shoveler,Green-winged Teal, Redhead, Ring-necked Duck, Lesser
Scaup, Bufflehead, Common Goldeneye and Ruddy Duck.

On our way down Davies Rd, a single Grasshopper Sparrow was found on a
sign post, singing away, a state bird for me. Then, at Muskrat Lake, more
surprises: a small group of Black Tern and a single Wilson's Phalarope. We
walked up Rd 260 from the Havillah Sno Park and found another Black-backed
Woodpecker. This also turned out to be our best location for many
Olive-side Flycatcher. And, as expected Gray Jay and Clark's Nutcracker
were heard and, eventually, seen.

We drove the length of N Siwash Creek Rd, going downhill, with a stop at a
set of feeders at the upper end which produced all 3 expected hummers:
Calliope, Rufous and Black-chinned Hummingbirds. Also there were Bullock's
Oriole making wonderful globe-shaped nests out of plastic twine, adding
different touches of color. Our only Cooper's Hawk of the trip flew over
this area. We heard both Gray Catbird and Yellow-breasted Chat at the
bottom of the valley, and the expected Bobolink showed up in the fields N
of Havillah Rd near the Siwash Rd intersection.

On our last morning at camp, I walked the Strawberry Mountain trail and,
at the summit, found a real Townsend's Solitaire, singing away. Also on
this trail was our only Nashville Warbler of the trip, a curious bird that
came up to within 2 m. A few more Black Tern were foraging at the south end
of the lake and our only Hooded Merganser was seen as well. When we were
leaving, a couple of Veery were heard singing at the beginning of Bonaparte
Lake Rd.

Approaching Loomis, a Golden Eagle was casually soaring up the cliff face;
unfortunately, not everyone got to see it. Then, heading south down the
valley, a Lewis's Woodpecker was seen flycatching in the dead trees. A
brief stop (seeking shade!) at Conners Lake produced another Red-eyed Vireo
and our only Wilson's Warbler and Virginia Rail of the trip.

A fun weekend with a great group of friends (Sue, Phyllis, Amy, David,
Tiffany, Tor, Gary, Sarah).

Scott Ramos

Trip list available upon request.

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