[Tweeters] Waterville Plateau Today

Houghton, Jon Jon.Houghton at hartcrowser.com
Wed Jan 20 21:12:50 PST 2021

Hi Tweets- To fullfil a need to travel and visit some familiar places we haven't been able to get for a year, Kathleen and I headed east this morning (limiting our enjoyment of the transition to government by fact, to Sirius coverage, interrupted by high terrain to the south side of Rt 2). Note: many details in the following will only be of interest to those who may want to visit the area!! Weather was good with intermittent sun through high overcast and temps in the high 20s. Badger Mt was pretty bird free except for Horned Larks, there and along Rt 2 east of Waterville. Descending into Moses Coulee we spied a Northern Shrike perched up nicely on a roadside shrub. In the (erstwhile) Atkins Lake area, we stopped at the 'high' point by the sometimes boat launch and scoped distant rockpiles to find a nice perched up Snowy Owl (no chimneys in the view). At the abandoned grain silos and scrub vegetation to the north on Woods/Heritage Rd., (which somehow escaped the fire that raged through most of this area in Sept), a nice Great-horned Owl flew out and then posed for great views. A tour through Mansfield found expected Quail along with a Merlin. At the Mansfield Cemetery, a fascinating gray raptor spooked and headed south while we were getting coats on, without giving any clue (to me) as to whether it could be a Gyr or a GOS?? We then headed west on 172 and north on No. Division Rd. Our plan was to intersect Dyer Hill Rd. which we did. Only problem was that it wasn't named as such, so...we continued north on No. Division Rd. After a few miles, the terrain was not looking familiar but, we did come across a nice perched Golden Eagle who eventually took off a spooked a covey of Gray Partridge into a shrub from which they eventually emerged for good scope views. From there north, the road descended into a once nice, but now burned up ravine that leads to a wash out requiring a major backtrack. Not recommended! Bridgeport Hill Rd, when we finally got there, was just sad - mostly burned. A few water birch may survive but the adjacent sage that supported the Sharptailed-Grouse along Foster Creek is mostly gone. We made it to miraculously unburned Bridgeport State Park at dusk and quickly found two (always) amazingly cute Northern Saw-whet Owls. Our final bird of the day was a calling Great-horned Owl in the park. OK Highlands tomorrow. Happy New Administration - Jon Houghton, Edmonds

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