[Tweeters] Scout Trip report for Okanogan Highlands and Waterville
shepthorp at gmail.com
Thu Feb 3 11:24:13 PST 2022
last weekend, 1/28-1/31 we had our scout trip in the Okanogan Highlands and
Waterville Plateau for the WOS Winter Trip coming up Presidents' Day
Weekend. The weather was cold with temperatures in the 20's degree
Fahrenheit. Mostly cloudy with some fog. And plowed snow covered roads on
the plateau, in the highlands and in Conconully.
On Friday, we located three SNOWY OWL around Atkins Lake, Woods Rd NE and
1st Rd NE, and one between H Road NE and G Road NE northeast of Mansfield.
We saw a PRAIRIE FALCON on H Road NE as well. Tree Sparrows could be found
in thickets on the plateau when scanned from the road. There were three
NORTHERN SAW-WHET OWL in Bridgeport State Park, but they can be very hard
to find and take some time to locate. Please be very careful not to
disturb these roosts as they are a real treat for all of us to enjoy.
Saturday, we birded the Okanogan Highlands. Fancher Road was good for
CHUKAR and GOLDEN EAGLE. With the cold temperatures and all the snow, it
as a very good year for seeing Chukar everywhere. The lower section of
Siwash Creek Road had two areas where we located SHARP-TAILED GROUSE. The
upper section of Siwash Creek Road was good for many RED CROSSBILLS,
CLARK'S NUTCRACKER, MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, HAIRY
WOODPECKER and PILEATED WOODPECKER. We picked up a WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKER
on Havillah Road near Oberg Road, and may have heard a White-winged
Crossbill. The Highland Sno-Park was slow, with MOUNTAIN CHICKADEE and a
fly over of a Woodpecker sp., probably a BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER. Scott
Downes reported a Northern Goshawk in Havillah and Common Redpoll on
Bolster that we missed. Chesaw, Bolster Road, and the Nealy Road Feeders
(Highland Meadows) were slow. We did have great views of a NORTHERN PYGMY
OWL on Mary Ann Creek Road between Chesaw Road and Fields Road. We dipped
on Common Redpoll, Gray Crowned Rosy Finch, Pine Grosbeak and Bohemian
Waxwing. There were plenty of NORTHERN SHRIKE around.
On a very sad note, the feeder on Hungry-Hollow Road or the Knob Hill
Forge, was not active. Gary Eagle, the home and forge owner, passed away
in September from cancer. I spoke with his girlfriend who still lives in
the home, she'll put out the seed I delivered in his memory. I don't
anticipate the feeders will remain active in the future.
Sunday we birded the Conconully and Cameron Lake Road area. We skipped
Scotch Creek Wildlife area, as we had great looks at Sharp-tailed Grouse on
Siwash Creek. Happy Hill Road and Salmon Creek Road were great habitat for
Woodpeckers, Nuthatches, Chickadees and Crossbills. We had great looks at
RUFFED GROUSE on Salmon Creek Road. Conconully was slow, but we had
fabulous looks at EVENING GROSBEAKS and probably 4-5 GOLDEN EAGLE. The
butte along Riverside Cut-off is excellent for Chukar and CANYON WREN. We
watched two Golden Eagle hunting the Chukar on the butte, very cool!
Cameron Lake Road had about a dozen SNOW BUNTING between the loop road and
Timentwa Flats. No big flocks. Scott Downes reported a Lapland Longspur
mixed in with about 8 HORNED LARK on the south side of the road between
Timentwa and the south entrance - the road was passable.
Monday we birded around Lake Pateros and the Waterville Plateau. We
skipped Bridgeport Hill, as this area was burned in 2020. In the morning
Washburn Island was very productive. We relocated the HARRIS SPARROW that
half our team found the evening before at the grain feeder on the far right
of the Island. There were probably a hundred WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, with
other sparrow, so we patiently waited to get quick looks of the Harris.
There were four COMMON REDPOLL in the Alders near the feeder, and another
hunting Northern Shrike. We had a fly over of 30 plus Bohemian Waxwing.
The lake views were great for CANVASBACK, REDHEAD, RUDDY DUCK, HORNED
GREBE, COMMON LOON, GREATER SCAUP, RING-NECKED DUCK, BUFFLEHEAD
COMMON-GOLDENEYE and HOODED MERGANSER. On State Route 17 between SR 97
(Truck Scales) and Bridgeport State Park, we bumped into a nice large flock
of BOHEMIAN WAXWING (48.0423783, -119.6730715). Some roosting in Lombardy
Poplars on the east side of the road, and many foraging on rotten apples in
the orchard on the west side of the road. It was nice to see a big flock
like this, and it's been a few years for me on these scout trips and field
trips since I've seen one. Central Ferry Canyon Road, although not
passable to the plateau, was good for additional Common Redpoll, Bohemian
Waxwing, Pygmy Nuthatch, Mountain Chickadee and Hairy Woodpecker. We also
had a beautiful HARLAN'S variety of RED-TAILED HAWK fly over. To end our
day on the plateau, we found an excellent active scraping in the snow with
active dumping of treated waste near the intersection of 15 Road NW and C
Road NW on the northwest plateau. Here we observed 300+ SNOW BUNTING, 1000
HORNED LARK, 6 GRAY-CROWNED ROSY-FINCH and 1 LAPLAND LONGSPUR (probably
more as we heard them).
Usually we see dozens of Rough-legged Hawks, this year we only observed 4-5
ROUGH-LEGGED HAWK over our entire trip which I think is a low count.
Perhaps this species hunting strategies are just as nomadic as many of the
other species we've come to enjoy in this area.
I'll put together another trip report after the WOS Winter Trip, and I hope
you have a chance to enjoy Douglas and Okanogan Counties this winter.
There is a lot of fun stuff to see. Many thanks to all my contributors,
Scott Ramos, Laurel Parshall, Jon Anderson, Ken Brown-Olympia and Ken
Brown-Tacoma, Kyle Leader, DJ Trillium, Gary Kelsberg and Sarah Safranek,
Liam Hutchinson and Elizabeth McManus, Tom Bowden, Dale Goebel, Bruce
LaBar, Ed Pullen, Jacob Miller, Scott Downes and Sierra Downes, and
Be well, check the weather and the passes, and safe winter birding.
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