[Tweeters] Last Chance Okanogan Venture (Day 1)

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Fri Dec 30 09:54:36 PST 2016

Hi Tweets - On Monday, Kathleen and I cancelled our planned last-ditch venture to the Okanogan to pursue a couple of birds not seen in (20) sixteen based on gloom and doom pass reports. Tuesday morning's report seemed more sane so we decided to head east. Stevens Pass was very passable, and we found ourselves on the sunny east side about 11 am in Cashmere, where we quickly found a nice mixed flock of passerines on Chapel Street, just off of Pioneer. A majority of birds were goldfinches and we sort of convinced ourselves that a couple, at least, were the previously reported Lessers. Woo-Hooo! A FOY for WA. Regrettably, upon further review of the books and our recollections, I can't be certain that we saw and recognized a Lesser, so we're scrubbing that one - the previously reported bird is probably there and findable, with time. But...we had a larger mission: Lunch in Waterville! The Coyote Café was closed but we ate at a quite acceptable café just across the street. Out of Waterville and on up towards Lamoine, we encountered several very large flocks of Horned Larks, but were unable to find any other species with them. There, we also saw the first of many Roughlegged Hawks for the trip. On to Mansfield where we randomly drove the few streets mostly looking for the previously reported Blue Jay, but finding only huge numbers of California Quail, Starlings, House Finches, Eurasian Collared Doves, and a lone Bohemian Waxwing. Leaving Mansfield we saw a couple more Rough Legs before descending down Bridgeport Hill Road. Having broken our long Sharp-tailed Grouse curse last winter, we were looking again for that great 'chicken-in-a-tree' look, but, at 2 in the afternoon on a very sunny (but cold) day, not really expecting to find any. Walking along the road in uppermost grove of willows, cottonwoods, and water birch, I say two large birds fly down the valley and land just out of sight. They had very long tails, though so might have been pheasants, based on that brief view. Continuing down the road and around an intervening knoll, I could see the classic water birch line along the creek below and we had nice looks, in bright sunlight (!) at two Sharp-tailed Grouse. Not a FOY, but always a great bird! Heading down to Bridgeport, we made a stop at the home of a gracious local birder who has been reporting a Harris's Sparrow at her feeders. There we met Randy Hill, Stefan Schlick, and another, scouting for an upcoming WOS trip who had not seen the HASP but had seen a White-throated Sparrow among the many others at the feeders (not to mention a Merlin and a Sharp-Shinned Hawk that arrived together to reduce the feeding enthusiasm for a while. We lingered on there for about an hour without an appearance by the HASP before heading to Omak for the night. Day 2 report later - Jon Houghton, Edmonds

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