[Tweeters] Eastern Snohomish County Mountain Birding
xjoshx at gmail.com
Mon Oct 30 22:33:29 PDT 2017
Encouraged by some good birds seen in the mountains north of Skykomish
recently I took a trip up to the mountains this morning.
Although all the action has been happening at Johnson Ridge, I decided
to head to Evergreen Mountain first since it's my favorite spot up
here. On the road up I found a very cold looking Ruffed Grouse on the
road at 3400ft. It let me pull within feet of it before walking off
the road into the brush.
I did this hike a month ago, which was a bit later than my ideal. From
the end of August through early September this spot can be absolutely
alive with birds of many types, but by the end of October things are
down quite a bit. I'd never been up here later than early October, so
I was curious to what I'd find. I figured it'd be quiet, but I was
amazed at how absolutely dead it felt. I think I walked around for
about 15 minutes before I detected my first bird of any type.
Up on the trail a ways I caught site of a large accipiter coming down
the ridge. Unfortunately it placed itself pretty much between me and
the sun so I was not able to get much in the way of field marks before
losing it. A few minutes later I had a Sharp-Shinned come over the
Three Mountain Chickadees popped up next to the trail, which was a
nice surprise. I have scoured chickadee flocks in this area on every
occasion, but only found a Mountain Chickadee once in a couple dozen
visits. A Red-Tailed Hawk could be seen hunting in the meadow at the
top of the mountain and I had flyovers by a single Pine Siskin and
Evening Grosbeak. Back at the parking lot I was able to pish up three
Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, a couple Red-Breasted Nuthatches, and two
Mountain Chickadees. Whether these were the same two I had higher on
the mountain I do not know. On my way down the mountain I flushed
several Sooty Grouse from the roadside, had some gray jays fly across
the road, and heard a Pygmy Owl.
I made my way back to Johnson Ridge where I encountered Rick and Tina
Taylor on their way down from the ridge where they'd seen the Goshawk
that's been there for a better part of a month. Encouraged by this
news, I parked at the top and stared at the ridge. And stared and
stared and stared. Occasionally a raptor would pop into view, but all
turned out to be Red-Tailed Hawks. Maxine Reid showed up as I was
about to leave, so I stuck around. We saw a couple more Red-Tails, but
eventually got a nice look at a Rough-Legged Hawk, which was a nice
surprise. Later an eagle fly over as well, I believe a Bald Eagle, but
I didn't see enough to completely rule out Golden.
I was pretty disappointed to miss the Goshawk, but it's always
interesting to see what's up at high elevations at a new time of year.
PS: Just had a couple Trumpeter Swans fly past in the dark as I was
writing this heading to Shadow Lake.
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