[Tweeters] Okanogan Highlands and Waterville Plateau- owls, grouse, and other fun goodies.

Khanh Tran khanhbatran at hotmail.com
Tue Feb 12 18:17:58 PST 2019

Hi Tweets!

The recent, cold and snowy conditions made driving and birding in the Waterville Plateau/Okanogan Highlands very difficult this weekend. In the 15 years that I birded here, I never seen so many drifts (up to 6 feet or more) and closed roads (even parts of Hwy 2). Several stranded cars in deep, deep snow. Nevertheless, the area produced some unexpectedly, good birding in the 1.5 days.

Finding three snowy owls was super fun! There are at least 7-8 snowy owls in the Waterville Plateau this winter; some have been elusive to find before the storm. It's not unusual to find several together from mid-Feb to early March before they head North. Lots of good areas out there, it's the fog and accessibility that adds to the challenge. The snowy owls are also masters at hiding, too! These birds here behave differently than the ones along the coastal areas; usually very skittish and flighty.

The snow brought in thousands of horned larks, but we didn't have time to look for Lapland Longspurs. Small numbers of Red crossbills, Pine Siskins, and American Goldfinches in the Okanogan Highlands but no still, no redpolls or pine grosbeaks.

Despite heavy snow, ice, fog and frigid temperatures, we found some fun birds. Here are some of the highlights!

Great Gray Owl-Okanogan Highlands near Pontiac Ridge Rd
Snowy Owl- one bird along H St (almost pure white) and two owls near Atkins Lake Rd. Very close encounter with two birds and both were within 200 yards of each other!
Northern Saw-Whet- five birds in the vicinity of Bridgeport State Park
Long eared Owl-a nice roost near Hess Lake
Short eared Owl-Havillah Rd
Northern Pygmy Owl-near Bolster Rd
Great Horned Owl-several at dusk Havillah Rd
Northern Goshawk-Immature near Conconully, WA
Greater Sage Grouse-Waterville Plateau near Division St
Sharp tailed Grouse-several birds along Bridgeport Hill Road
Ruffed Grouse-a dozen or more in Okanogan Highlands
Chukar-several along Fancher Rd
Gray-Partridge-many coveys near Okanogan Highlands, Conconully, and Waterville Plateau
Bohemian Waxwings-one small flock near Riverside, WA
Golden Eagle-Several along Riverside, and Tonasket area
Snow Buntings-pure flock of 400 birds along Havillah Rd and other small flocks on Waterville Plateau
Gray-crowned Rosy-finches-mixed in with Horned Larks near Mansfield area
American Tree Sparrows-several along Mary Ann Creek Rd

Be persistent and open minded, and the magical Okanogan Highland/ Waterville Plateau will reward you. Be careful out there and have FUN!

Peace, love and good birding,


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