[Tweeters] Okanogan Day 3 - 3-Owl Day! (Long)

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Tue Dec 17 21:33:19 PST 2019

Hi Tweets - Today, I opted to alter our usual Day 3 plan, skipping the Scotch Creek/Conconully part, to allow more time to look for three targets with some good likelihood of being found in 'traditional' locations. So, we headed up to the frosty Timentwa Plateau via Cameron Lk Rd. It was about 18 degrees and everything was coated in marvelous crystals of delicate ice - even longer and more fantastic than those in the Highlands yesterday. Approaching my favorite birding place on the Plateau, a well vegetated spring with permanent open water (aka: the Tree Sparrow place), we encountered a large flock of Horned Larks. Checking the flock for Longspurs, I only found a single Snow Bunting among the Larks. A bit farther to the South, as we pulled up to park along side the road, three small birds flew across the road and landed in the tops of shrubs right in front of the car: American Tree Sparrows! The place name is validated. Several other common bird species and a great many lovely frost sculptures rewarded our short walk up into the oasis around the spring. Next best bird, perhaps was a fast flyover by a Prairie Falcon. A hunting Northern Shrike also made us worry about the longevity of the smaller birds. A bit farther south, we turned east up Timentwa Rd. expecting to find the usual winter crowd of Snow Buntings at the first ranch: Nothing there but a few Starlings, some sitting blissfully warming their toes on the backs of cattle, placidly munching freshly provided hay. A bit east of the buildings, we did find a small group of Gray Partridge, hunkered down into the snow. A couple of miles farther east, just before this road reaches the east edge of the Plateau (affording a superb view of Omak Lake and the surrounding, charred mountains) we found a very large flock of Buntings, regrettably, Longspur-free.

Back down off the Plateau, our next target was to seek an unconventional waxwing around the orchards at the junction of 97 and 17. As soon as we pulled off the shoulder just north of the junction, I spotted a good number of waxwings in the tops of tall Lombardy poplars. With the scope on them, it was easy to pick out several Bohemian Waxwings among the majority of Cedars, Robins, and House Finches.

Ok, you're saying, What about the owls? From there, we headed upriver to Bridgeport State Park. We started the search at the north end of the park, where we had seen much paint (poop) two days ago. Working from tree to tree to the south, we found much poop but only a Barred Owl ( in a different tree from 2 days ago). As I was finishing up and heading back to the car, I saw Kathleen waving me back. As I approached her by the car, she pointed at a small evergreen that we'd looked at on Sunday but bypassed, today. This is the same tree in which we'd seen owls before, and there it was: our No. Saw-whet!! Owl number 3 was a cute pair of snuggling Great Horneds, in some locust trees at the bottom of McNeil Canyon. Great finish to another great winter birding adventure in North Central WA!! -. Happy birding and happy holidays to all - Jon Houghton, Edmonds

Sent from my Verizon Motorola Smartphone
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