[Tweeters] Okanogan Mud Time - Day 2

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Thu Feb 25 21:13:17 PST 2016

Hi Tweets - the Highlands started out pretty chilly (about 24 degrees F) for the warmest day of the year. We had a little surprise coming up out of Tonasket; first, we might have glimpsed a couple of Barn Swallows on a wire, but then saw, for sure, 2 Western Meadowlarks on a wire, well before the open meadows below the SnoPark (also Red-tails in this area). We did a nice and crispy mile or so loop around the lower reaches of the Havillah SnoPark and only saw a few Mountain Chickadees, one Chestnut-sided Chickadee and a couple of RB Nuthatches (and a squirrel). Stopping on the way out of the park, I heard one set of drumming and one distant call from an unidentified woodpecker. Heading north up past Havillah, we searched hard, but in vain, for Snow Buntings or Gray Partridge, but did see the usual Roughlegged Hawk in a great plumage (always on poles or the wire uphill from Havillah). The Nealy Rd. feeders at about 10 am, were a major disappointment - no Gray-crowned Rosyfinches!! Just a few Mountain Chicks, RW Blackbirds, and a RB Nuthatch. Not believing this could be so, we looped back by around 2 pm, but just the same birds present. Left a small contribution for bird seed anyway. Through Chesaw and out the road to Canada (Bolster), the only bird seen was a bit of a surprise: nice bright Mountain Bluebird - it really is spring! - 2 more seen on Havillah Rd above Havillah on the way down. Speaking of spring, the unpaved roads in the Highlands were mostly good, but with some washboarding and frost heaves that enforce a nice slow birding pace. Plan a visit to the carwash when you finish up here!

Around noon, we headed up Chesaw Rd. to Mary Ann Creek Road toward Molson and finally found one of our target birds - about 8 Pine Grosbeaks in the top of a nice bare larch! Two super bright males and the rest females. In the ponds past Molson there were a couple of Canada Geese and a single female goldeneye. Along the northern end of Hungry Hollow Road, we spooked up a couple of Golden Eagles - not sure what they were up to, but there may have been a road kill deer down in the ravine somewhere. We spent a fair amount of time walking along Hungry Hollow Rd. where the WOS trip had found a Great Gray Owl (and where Blair B. and I had seen a couple of Pygmy Owls in late Nov.). It was bird free today, but had fabulous views to the west and northwest - across untracked snowy fields to distant snowy mountains. After our second check of the Nealy feeders, we headed back down to Omak - One really good bird (PIGR males!) and really nice weather makes for a good day of birding! - Jon Houghton, Edmonds

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