[Tweeters] New Year Birding in Okanogan and Douglas County (Owls, fancy chickens and other goodies)

Khanh Tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Thu Jan 5 21:28:27 PST 2017

Hi Tweets: 

Happy New Year to all!  It maybe an ‘off’ year for wintering birds in Okanogan and Douglas Counties but the allure is still there and it never disappoints..  Spent 2.5 days in both counties, finding a good variety of target species but in very low numbers!  Weather was decent for one day but the rest, windy and frigid. I had to put more effort in digging up some of the birds by exploring new and less, birded areas/roads. Best to be real patient and positive and there is plenty of winter left:)

Generally, the bird was real, real slow! The frigid temperatures produced many good owls during daylight including nocturnal ones that were in the open--roosting or hunting.  Small passerines chickadees and nuthatch were far and few, and I saw no jays or crossbills of any kind! I expected to see more Bohemians but only saw a few flocks...  

While the birding was tough at times, the colorful locals and my Okanogan family made it fun!  I tried a few, new places to eat. The food was good at the Chesaw Tavern and Sit and Bull in Conconully.  I do my best to support and chat with other small , local businesses besides the Breadline Cafe. They seem to get most of the birder’s support. The China Star no longer exist and the Paraiso Chinese has now replaced them in the same location. The Asian cuisine is quite tasty!

Spread out your patronage and it will bring you good birding kharma:)  Also, there is now increased, cell phone coverage in the Highlands, may come in handy in exchaning

Here are the highlights:
Sharp tailed Grouse-up to 40 plus birds feeding on water birches(Bridgeport Hill Rd, Happy Hill Rd, and Mary Ann Creek Rd)
Chukar-up to a dozen or so birds near Conconully and Fancher Rd
Gray Partridge-several small conveys near Omak Airport, Conconully, Havillah Rd, and Mansfield
Ruffed Grouse-good numbers this year, saw up to 12-15 birds along Hungry Hollow Rd, Bolster and Mary Ann Creek.  One beautiful, red morph near town of Chesaw. 
Northern Goshawk-one skittish adult along Chesaw Rd and Mary Ann Creek
Golden Eagle-several birds Mary Ann Creek and Hwy 97 near Riverside
Prairie Falcon-two birds near Mansfield
Great Horned Owls-couple hunting during the day and several at dusk
Great Gray Owl –one bird at dusk near Myers Creek Rd, may be a good winter for them. I have seen up to four birds in several locations in the past month in the Highlands. 
Long eared Owl-several new roosts (up to 20 birds) in dense tree copse in Okanogan and Douglas County.  Several roosting out in open including a gorgeous, dark female! One bird on fence post at dusk on Nealy Rd. 
Short eared Owl-two birds near Havillah Church
Barn Owl-one bird near Omak Airport
Northern Pygmy Owl-two birds near town of Chesaw and Bolster Rd
Northern Saw-whet Owl –several roosting birds in Bridgeport State Park
Black backed Woodpecker-one male along Pontiac Ridge Rd
White headed Woodpecker –one female near entrance of Sno-Park
Lapland Longspur-a few birds near H Rd, and two mixed with Horned Larks on West Fork Rd in Okanogan Higlands
Snow Buntings-small flock of 20 birds near Nine Mile Rd, sprinkles of them near Mansfield
Bohemian Waxwing-biggest flock was about 600 birds near Hwy  97/173 Junction and several small flocks in Tonasket and Highlands
American Tree Sparrows-small flocks near Conconully, Mary Ann Creek Rd, and Hungry Hollow Rd.  Several others near Mansfield and Cameron Lake Rd
Pine Grosbeaks-two birds along Pontiac Ridge Rd
Gray Crowned Rosy-finches-four birds near Molson, a dozen on Cameron Lake Rd, 30-40 birds near McNeil Canyon Rd
Common Redpolls-two small flocks of 2-5 birds near Molson and a few mixed in with goldfinches near Bolster.  

I spent a rewarding 2016 focusing on owls in WA and ended up seeing and photographing all 15 possible species.  It was a blast and I got to increase my knowledge, understanding and appreciation for these elusive but beautiful birds.  On a side note, 2016 was not a good year for fancy, forest or alpine chickens; very few ptarmigans, dusky and spruce grouse!

My passion for birds and photography is as strong as ever.  I feel grateful as the Birding Buddha has been very kind to me….

Here is a link to my photos consisting mostly of owls.


Happy New Year and hope you set fun, birding goals for the year and reach them!

Peace, love and good birding, 


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