[Tweeters] Salmo Mountain Birding this Weekend - Part 1

B B birder4184 at yahoo.com
Mon Oct 19 10:24:00 PDT 2015

Ken Hemberry, Charlie Desilets and I joined Khanh Tran for 2.5 very fun birding days at Salmo Mountain and Bunchgrass Meadows.  We had great birds, two days of spectacular (maybe too spectacular) weather, and most importantly great companionship.
This was our first trip with Khanh and he was truly special.  Great knowledge, great eyes, and great personality.  More energy than anyone I know.  Highly recommended.
We arrived at the road to Bunchgrass Meadows around 1:30 on Friday (it is a LONG drive).  Not more than 10 minutes later we spotted a grouse in the middle of the road ahead.  Quick distant photos and then we first drove closer and then got out for terrific views of a MALE SPRUCE GROUSE.  Truly a magnificent bird.  We got fairly close before it sauntered off into the woods.  That was a prime target bird for the trip and if that had been our only success story we would have been happy but there was to be a lot more even though the combination of overly nice weather and the opening of hunting season suppressed some of the birding.  We felt fortunate for the start and even moreso when a couple of minutes later, a pick-up came barreling down the road.  If it had come earlier or we had been there later - definitely no grouse.
Further up the road (we went 14 miles in all), we had several intersections with confounding Boreal Chickadees that would tease us with quick dashes between trees, high up, refusing to come in close.  One 2 second view completely in the open was not enough for a photo but provided stunning looks through the bins.  On the way down we ran into Terry Little who told us he had seen a flock of Gray Crowned Rosy Finches down by the bridge--maybe a second county record and first for him.  They were still there when we arrived.  We also had two American Dippers which we think were feasting on eggs from a very large group of very red Kokanee.
We then headed off to Salmo Mountain where we stayed until almost 11 that night trying for Boreal Owls at several places.  We had at least three and maybe 4 calling/responding birds including one that was very close but despite Khanh's diligence, we never got onto any of the birds.  Back to our very acceptable hotel in Ione and for a short  and then back out early on Saturday.

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