[Tweeters] Clarity returns to the Okanogan

Jon Houghton jon.houghton at hartcrowser.com
Sat Feb 16 21:29:12 PST 2019


Hi Tweets - After two days with significant periods of poor visibility, today was a refreshing change! We got to the Scotch Creek Wildlife area about 0830 and were pleased (and relieved) to find the somewhat distant riparian water birch and cottonwood trees studded with about 31 Sharp-tailed Grouse. We needn't have worried about our late arrival, because when we drove back down from Conconully about 1115, they were all still there, although moved to the very tops of the tallest trees around the WDFW field lab buildings. We were pleasantly surprised to find the town and surroundings of Conconully amazingly birdy, since it had been anything but on our last visit at the end of December. Pine Siskins were everywhere, as were Dark-eyed Juncos and Varied Thrushes. Cassin's Finches were present in several areas along with a few House Finches. A huge flock of Red-winged Blackbirds was clamoring on the ridgeline NE of town. At the Salmon Creek crossing at the north end of town, the feeders off to the east behind some trees and sheds had a couple dozen Wild Turkeys along with some very active Juncos and Am. Goldfinch. Despite the birds everywhere, we couldn't find any Bohemian Waxwings or Crossbills that have been reported recently. Several Clark's Nutcrackers were seen flying over town and in the Ponderosas along the Conconully Lake shore. We found no unusual birds over Happy Hill Rd. and down Salmon Creek to Okanogan (the city). The warm 37 degrees in the valley quickly dropped into the twenties as we climbed up Cameron Lake road to the Timentwa Plateau. We ate lunch along the road in the pines on the way up and were surrounded by Pygmy Nuthatches, very busy with the tips of the Ponderosa branches. As soon as we topped out on the plateau, we encountered the first of several groups of Gray Partridge ranging in size from 2 to 25. It was beautiful with a high overcast on the Plateau and that made up for our failure to find any of the Am. Tree Sparrows that we can usually see at the one meager stream crossing just north of Timentwa Rd. Down that road, the first farm has (almost) always been a reliable winter site for Snow Buntings and raptors, but neither was present today; just Cal. Quail, Gray Partridge, Common Ravens, some pretty low key cattle, and one over-eager black and white dog. From there on south, not to much to report: some flocks of Horned Larks, a few Rough-legged Hawks, a Golden Eagle, and a Northern Shrike. Overall, the road was quite drivable although, interestingly, despite the 27 degree temperature, some sections of the road, perhaps those having been over salted(?), were a bit muddy on the surface. The Columbia River lake system between Brewster and Wenatchee had a large number of waterfowl, especially Am. Coot (1,000s) and a lot of raptors, mostly eagles and RT Hawks, keeping them nervous. Happy Birding! - Jon Houghton, Edmonds
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