[Tweeters] Gorge Lake RB Merganser

Gary Bletsch garybletsch at yahoo.com
Sat Dec 19 16:05:48 PST 2020

Dear Tweeters,
Today (the 19th December 2020) was the North Cascades Christmas Bird Count, variously also known as the Futility Bowl, the Where-the-heck-are-the-birds Tally, and the How Wet Can We Get Bird Cense-less. This count takes place up in the Newhalem-Diablo area, mostly in Whatcom County, with a bit of Skagit at the western edge of the count circle.
Because of the plague, the parties for all 4 areas were hermetically sealed from one another, and consisted of solo birders, and/or parties made up of married couples who live together.
The weather was surprisingly good until early afternoon, but the birding was astoundingly slow, at least in my area, which runs from just above Newhalem to Diablo, and a bit beyond. Back in 1992, we had a snowstorm that lasted most of the day, and my Area 3 party found only 7 species--but we did see 245 individuals. 
Today I managed 13 species, but only 46 individual birds, 15 of which were Buffleheads. Astoundingly enough, I was not able to find a single Chestnut-backed Chickadee or Golden-crowned Kinglet all day, despite spending five and a half hours walking close to six miles in coniferous and mixed forest habitats!
However, as with most birding days, there were a few highlights. I started off owling before dawn, and found a Northern Saw-whet Owl tooting away at the Newhalem Visitor Center, where I have found them before. 
The bird of the day, though, was a drake RED-BREASTED MERGANSER on Gorge Lake. I think that was only the fourth time the species has been tallied on this CBC, going back to 1988. It was only the second one I'd ever seen in the Upper Skagit, the previous one being a female back in May of 2016, on the lower Baker River in Concrete.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch

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