[Tweeters] Conconully to Timentwa today

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Fri Mar 3 21:21:05 PST 2017

Hi Tweets - I know some of you are planning trips to the Okanogan area soon so here's the story on our adventure today. This morning in Omak was 34 degrees with a high overcast. By the time (0730) it was only 32 at Scotch Creek and as we approached, we could see that the south facing slope above the usual hangouts for Sharp-tailed Grouse was virtually snow free so our expectations plummeted and were completely justified. No Sharptails to be had. We headed up Happy Hill Rd in hopes of finding 1 or 2 of the hundreds of Gray-crowned Rosyfinches seen by the WOS and SAS trips last week: Nary a one. We did see a FOY Say's Phoebe, probably still wondering where that old house went that it used to nest in (burned to the dirt in the recent fire that covered much of the area). We then made a 20-minute pass through Conconully where, among other things, we found a flock of about 25 Bohemian waxwings, a Varied Thrush, and many House Finch working on crab apple tree north of the main drag. Finding no bars in town (you can buy a beer at a couple of places, but can't make a cell call) we had to race back to Omak for a business call. After the call, we headed up Cameron Lake Rd. into what looked like some potentially serious black clouds. The precip held back (just a few snow flakes at 33 degrees) but the wind did not. At the so-called "Sparrow Place" about a mile north of Timentwa Rd. we didn't even have to get out of the car to see two very nice Am. Tree Sparrows. We did get out of the car, of course, but couldn't find much else other than Dark-eyed Juncos and a single Gray Partridge. Horned Larks were abundant all along the road and approaching the first farm on Timentwa Rd., we found the first Snow Bunting mixed in. Just past the farm, a small valley where cattle have trampled the snow to the ground, provided apparently great habitat for perhaps 1,000 Snow Buntings and at least a hundred Red-wing Blackbirds and a similar number of larks. Beyond the farm, we spotted a falcon sitting on the lee side of the top of a boulder that showed a weak face pattern, but flew just as I got it in the scope. In flight at a distance, I thought I was seeing black "arm pits" but couldn't be sure. It made a pass through the buntings and blackbirds but did not hit any, and then landed on another boulder. It flew again just as I got it in the scope but this time I could track it in the scope and confirm that it was a Prairie Falcon. For the rest of Cameron Lake Road, we looked at lots of larks but could not find any longspurs among them. Heading south, we went up K road onto the Waterville Plateau and drove many roads north east of Mansfield; again, no sigh of a Snowy Owl, but huge numbers of Horned Larks with just a few Snow Buntings mixed in. As on our previous days report - very few raptors. It seems like all the Rough-legged Hawks must all be over here on the Stilly - Samish Flats!! Snowing hard over Stevens Pass in late afternoon but very little westbound traffic so it all went well. Happy Birding - Jon Houghton, Edmonds

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