[Tweeters] PCT/Glacier Peak Birding (Snohomish/Chelan Counties)

Josh Adams xjoshx at gmail.com
Tue Aug 24 16:15:19 PDT 2021

Hello Tweets,
I spent a few days up at the Cascade crest this weekend. It was definitely
a mixed bag weekend, but it did have some good bird highlights to share.

I initially planned on taking the N. Fork Sauk trail up to the PCT near
Darrington, but I found they'd closed FS49 because of a nearby fire when I
arrived on Thursday. I made a try to use the old Kennedy Hot Springs trail,
which was mostly washed out in 2003, but (eventually) found it impassable.
After regrouping at home I ended up driving to eastern Washington and
hiking in on the Little Wenatchee trail to the PCT and then taking that PCT
another ~9 miles north to my original destination. The weather was cool and
cloudy on Friday morning, but by the time I reached White Pass (the one by
Glacier Peak, not the better known highway pass) the mountains were covered
by clouds reducing visibility to a few feet. Once I arrived in the rocky
basin south of Glacier Peak I was using GPS for navigation. There were
occasional small clearings, but for the most part this weather continued
for the next 36 hours making birding challenging if not impossible. The
weather finally cleared a bit as I was on my return trip on Sunday and
provided many of the birding highlights for the weekend.

Bird highlights:
Brewer's sparrow - Meander Meadows, just below the PCT. Not particularly
exciting for Chelan county, but notable for being without a fraction of a
mile of Snohomish County where it would be a very good bird indeed.
White-Winged Crossbills - Good size flock where the Little Wenatchee trail
meets the PCT, moving back and forth between Snohomish and Chelan counties.
Another single bird was seen in Chelan County below Kodak Peak.
Red Crossbills - The most numerous bird of the trip by far. Much more so
than previous years. Pine Siskins, typically the most common bird in other
years, were much less numerous.
Golden Eagle - Several throughout the trip, including three seen
simultaneously in Snohomish county at the west end of Indian Head Peak.
Cassin's Vireo and Lazuli Bunting - With a mixed flock along the PCT near
Indian Head Peak, both species I've never encountered at these elevations.
Horned Larks - Small flock in the basin below Glacier Peak, in almost the
same spot I've found them the last three years.
Baird's Sandpiper - A nice surprise along a lake below the White Chuck
Glacier. The fog made it very difficult to get an accurate count, but there
were definitely at least 10 Baird's. There were other Sandpipers moving
around which I never got a good look or photos of, some of which seemed
much smaller.
White-Tailed Ptarmigan - I scoured the usual habitat for most of a day
trying to find this species, only to give up and head towards my next camp
about the time I found the sandpipers. As I was trying to get photos of
said sandpipers I stumbled, almost literally, on a female and three babies
in the wet area right next to the lake. Not at all the habitat I've found
this species in before.
Sooty Grouse - Still many males booming, and several females with chicks
Northern Goshawk - Juvenile dogfighting with a Cooper's Hawk on the west
side of Indian Head Peak.

There's a few videos from my trip here, for anyone interested:

Josh Adams
Cathcart, WA
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