[Tweeters] Okanogan Day 3 - a nice owly finish!

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Thu Mar 8 15:46:18 PST 2018

Hi Tweeterdom - For the third day of our trip to Okanogan County, we started off by checking out Scotch Creek for Sharp-tailed Grouse but there were none present around 0745. Also, not too much excitement in Conconully or over Happy Hill Road and down Salmon Creek Rd. except maybe for the presence of several Wild Turkeys in the streets and yards of snow-packed Conconully. Snow depths were pretty significant and most of the town deer were either in the roads or under trees where there was a little less snow to fight with. About noon, we headed up Cameron Lake Road, from the snow-free Okanogan River valley. No luck trying to find White-headed Woodpeckers or Pygmy Nuthatches in the usual pine woods places. At the "Tree Sparrow Place" (1/2 mi north of Timentwa Rd. junction), we managed to find two nicely plumed American Tree Sparrows along with one BC Chickadee. The first farm up Timentwa Rd. had its usual winter profusion of Snow Buntings, RW Blackbirds, Ravens and Bald Eagles (it's calving time), along with three Western Meadow Larks. Eagles and ravens were, of course, in attendance to clean up after each calf birth.

>From Timentwa, we headed south on Cameron Lake Road, past (unplowed) Greenaway Rd. to an abandoned farm where we have seen owls in a patch of aspen and willows. While we were stopped, a very nice local lady came from the other direction, in a much highe- clearance 4 WD, than ours and strongly advised against going on - the warm afternoon (33 and sunny) had softened up the road and there were chassis-scraping mudholes and ruts. We turned around and high-tailed it back (~18 miles!) to the north (Okanogan), then south on 97 to Bridgeport St. Park. Kevin Aanerud had emailed that he had found a Long-eared Owl there the day before, and there have been all those Saw-whet reports all winter. It took less than a half hour to find both species, nicely rounding out our trip list. On the way home, we revisited Bridgeport Hill and flushed 4 Sharp-tailed Grouse that had been feeding very near the road. We had nice close looks at the birds in flight and could hear their distinctive wing beats as they flew by. A super wrap-up to a fine 3-day venture with great birds, good company of birders, good interactions with locals, and fabulous weather. This trip was a repeat of a similar venture exactly a year ago, but was notable for some of the more highly sought-after species (Snowy and Long-eared owls, Sharp-tailed Grouse, Northern Goshawk) that eluded us last year. About 54 species total. Happy Birding!

Jon Houghton, Edmonds
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