[Tweeters] Naches Pass area on Friday (mostly King County) - 9/4/2015

Evan Houston evanghouston at gmail.com
Sat Sep 5 17:19:51 PDT 2015

Hi Tweeters,

I visited the Naches Pass area yet again yesterday (Friday 9/4), and it
served up some fun birding and adventure. This is the fourth time I've
been up there this summer, and it's been interesting to see the difference
in species each time. My visit about a month ago showed evidence of
migration, and this time, migration was further along with some of the
migrants being species that only breed to the north, such as Golden-crowned
and "Sooty" Fox Sparrow.

I birded along FSR (forest service road) 7030 and 7036 to Windy Gap, then
Windy Gap itself, and then a hike up Kelly Butte. As usual, bird activity
was best in the morning, and this time, the afternoon started with clouds
and thunder, then rain showers, then either hail or sleet, and finally
light snow at the top of Windy Gap and Kelly Butte!

I'll do highlights by location:

Windy Gap:

- there were a few raptors this time including Sharp-shinned Hawk and a
Peregrine Falcon, and one large juvenile accipiter that was probably a
Northern Goshawk but was not seen quite well enough for me to make the call.

- Clark's Nutcracker

- 2 Rock Wrens! I've previously noted a singing male on territory here -
this time one bird was giving the rather endearingly named "tick-ear" call,
and the other bird was silent, looked fresh, and allowed closer approach -
perhaps a parent giving contact notes to a juvenile?

- Migrant thrushes including a small group of Mountain Bluebirds and a
Townsend's Solitaire.

- Sparrows were particularly good this time - I noted 8 forms, and the ones
that I don't believe breed here were: 1 VESPER, several each Golden-crowned
and "Sooty" Fox, and a Spotted Towhee.

- 2 Pine Grosbeaks were among one of the many, many groups of Robins.

Kelly Butte: The weather transitioned to rainy, foggy, and then snowy
conditions as I climbed, and I only managed to tally 7 species during my
hour-and-a-half hike. The weather turned out to be a little more extreme
than the NWS point forecast of 30% chance of afternoon rain showers, but
that's what can happen when you get high up in elevation - ~5400 feet in
this case!

FSR7030: The bridge over the Greenwater River, which forms part of the
border of King and Pierce counties, is worth a stop to look for Dipper. In
addition to this bird, I was a bit surprised to see a Belted Kingfisher
here. In the rain, on my way back home, I found not only a Dipper, but an
interesting mixed flock that was not only using perches in the trees along
the river, but also the same rocks in the stream used by the Dippers -
several Hammond's Flycatchers, Hermit Thrushes, Dark-eyed Juncos, and a
Western Tanager!

A couple of documenting photographs can be found by scrolling down at my
eBird checklist for Windy Gap:

Good birding,
Evan Houston
Seattle, WA
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