[Tweeters] Wed-Fri Okanogan County- Waterville Plateau visit was
wrboyington at msn.com
Fri Dec 22 21:57:16 PST 2017
A quick trip to augment a lower-than-wished species year list did not find a plethora of birdlife in the Okanogan Highlands or on the Waterville Plateau, but, then, I did not cover all possible places. It was cold - e.g. 11 degrees in Chesaw on Thursday morning. I did not get out of the car much, though it was windless in the Highlands. I saw no small birds there, but I was both driving and looking, and feeder sites I knew appeared not to be active. On Mary Ann Creek Road I saw no birds at all, the first time that has ever happened for me. The Waterville Plateau on Friday seemed inhospitable, with wind, snowing in places, many side streets not plowed, and few places to pull off to scope, even if I wanted to.
So, not many highlights to mention:
Sharp-tailed Grouse - Wednesday afternoon. From the U Bar U Ranch overlook on the Conconully Road, I spotted some grouse far to the left end in the trees along Scotch Creek. I moved .2 miles west to the road entrance leading down to the adjacent farm, taking care not to block access. From there, a scope count of 27.
In the Highlands: Rough-legged Hawks numbered 10 in the route I took, that did not retrace any roads. I saw more, later, on the Conconully Road, so a good number of these wintering raptors. The Neeley Road feeders site, though absent of birds at the feeders, has an apple tree, just in front and to the left, that was loaded with fruit, and attracting a flock of Bohemian Waxwings, conservatively 30-40 in number, as more came in while I was there. I saw another dozen later on Havillah Road 2 or 3 miles north of the junction with Hungry Hollow Road. As I stopped to look at them in a tree near the road, 14 Wild Turkeys flew up onto the road around 20 yards ahead of me. I prefer to think this was merely circumstantial, rather than them looking for a handout from my vehicle. No doubt accustomed to vehicles, they hung around while I slowly moved past them. More Wild Turkeys, perhaps a dozen, were seen later that day in the town of Conconully.
Common Redpolls - a huge flock, conservatively 600-700 seen in an adjacent snow field while driving south on B Road in the Plateau. They flew toward the road, and some landed in the field’s edge next to my location, allowing for the identification. My count could be low.
Snow Buntings - Very few Horned Larks seen on my route, Road B and Highway 172. East of Mansfield, it was snowing heavily, so I went west. Finally, south of Withrow did I find a few Horned Larks on the road, and one flock of 40 or 50 birds had mixed larks and buntings, more of the latter, actually, that came onto the road.
Despite the lack of birds, I always enjoy a trip to the Okanogan Highlands. The serenity and beauty of the place, on the windless day I was there, made my visit worthwhile. A few more of its special birds would have been nice, though.
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