[Tweeters] Sunrise Boreal Owls and more

Chazz Hesselein chazz at hesselein.com
Tue Sep 29 22:52:39 PDT 2015

Dear Tweets,

Yesterday afternoon I arrived at the Mt. Rainier Sunrise Visitor Center
to hike the Fremont Overlook Trail and spend some time in the evening
trying to find previously reported Boreal Owls. The weather was
fantastic, clear and warm and my hike went much better than my last hike
which, it turned out, I did while in the initial stages of an awful case
of some sort of upper respiratory infection. As with my previous hikes
to the Fremont Overlook, I failed to find either White-tailed Ptarmigan
or Gray-crowned Rosy Finches (speaking of nemesis birds). I did find a
number of Townsend's Solitaires, assorted raptors (nothing uncommon) and
a herd of 14 mountain goats. After my hike I heated a can of soup for
dinner and sat around in the parking area. Soon after it got dark I
started hearing the highlight of the evening, bugling bull elk. I heard
several throughout the evening in the Sunrise area, their calls echoing
throughout the valleys. At times they sounded like a big cat roaring,
other times a their calls were more high-pitched horn-like
vocalizations. There are probably many areas in WA where you can hear
bull elk calling in the fall; I've only had that experience at Sunrise.
Hearing the elk alone was worth the drive from my home in Port Orchard.
While sitting in the parking area, about a half hour after moonrise, I
heard a Boreal Owl call. The owl then flew to the picnic area where I
heard it call from a couple of different spots as I walked around. I
also heard a single call from another individual at one of the pullouts
between the visitor center parking area and Sunrise Point.
Unfortunately, I didn't see any owls. Sibley and others call described
the Boreal Owl call as a "skiew" but I would describe it as a sharp
kissing noise. Other animals seen included a fox in the parking area
that just about walked up to me and several elk on the side of Hwy 410
while driving home. (Be careful driving on Hwy 410 in the dark, hitting
an elk would not be much fun for you or the elk.)

Feeling lucky to live in the Pacific Northwest,

Chazz Hesselein
Port Orchard, WA

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