[Tweeters] Spokane--Saltese Wetlands and Stevens Co--Colville Area

plkoyama at comcast.net plkoyama at comcast.net
Wed Mar 29 15:54:06 PDT 2017

Tweets and “Inlands,”
David and I made a quick trip to E WA in weather that was no better than on the “wet side,” with a plan to score a few winter waterfowl in Spokane and Stevens Counties. Thanks to Tim O’Brien’s postings on the Saltese Wetlands in the Spokane Valley (Barker Exit off I-90), on Mon. 3/27 we were able to get three Code 3 waterfowl species—Cackling Geese (several), Eurasian Wigeon (one with AMWIs at the east end of the wetland) and Greater White-fronted Goose (one in a field on the north side of the lake, seen from the road), plus several Code 2 CA Gulls with many Ring-billed Gulls. Especially helpful was Tim’s note that the best wetland views are upon entering the housing development, which we did from Barker at, I think, 21st—there is a loop gravel road that goes much closer to the wetlands than any of the surrounding paved roads. The area was loaded with other dabbling waterfowl and we saw a very bright Savannah Sparrow, our first of the season. It is a great site, though unknown to us whether it is always so bird-rich or if this is an odd year due to the record snowmelt/rainfall in the area. We exited on Henry, where the uplands look like they could be good later in spring--we were glad to see a pair of Western Bluebirds, always a day-brightener.

Then we headed for Stevens Co, checking out the flooded fields from Springdale to Chewelah, picking up nothing new but a Northern Harrier by the “2 small ponds” (from the Birding Guide to WA) that are now big ponds, but didn’t see anything new until getting back to Hwy 395 north of Valley, where we noted swans in one of the fields—Tundras. There could have been a couple of Trumps, but the scoping was too precarious at the edge of the road, even pulled over at a wide spot by a bridge/culvert. The whole area was frustrating due to every “real” lake being frozen—Waitts and any near Colville, including those in the Little Pend Oreille NWR. Around Colville the completely flooded fields caused wide dispersal of waterfowl. Locals say they have never seen flooding like this before and a few people are still in motels. We watched one woman on Oakshott Rd (near the usually-reliable treatment plant) step off her partially covered front porch into thigh-high water. We had planned to bird north of Colville towards Kettle Falls, but Hwy 395 was closed due to a slide. It’s rough over there, and was raining when we left yesterday a.m. We had our usual great dinner at Tony’s Italian Restaurant, which made Colville still worth the trip! And there was some sun on Mon. reminding us that Stevens Co is one of our most beautiful.
Penny Koyama, Bothell
plkoyama at comcast dot net

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