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Tag Archives: Okanogan County

Yesterday we went birding. We made a big loop around Okanogan County, crossing the mountains between the Methow and the Okanogan, up on the plateau on the east side of the county, and then down to the big river (Columbia) and back up the Methow. During the day we saw over sixty species of birds, two coyotes, one beaver and three pronghorns! This was my first time seeing pronghorns in Washington. The Colville Tribes have re-introduced them on their lands and the animals have quickly spread with reports of them across the Columbia in Douglas County. I wonder if they swam or crossed a bridge. Do pronghorns swim?

As for birds, I was disappointed that we didn’t see more little birds and also cranes. I often see Sandhill Cranes in March. I’ll have to try again soon. The landscape was drier than usual. Normally roads are pretty muddy with more snow on the ground. The weather was perfect. I think it must have been sixty degrees down on the big river.

As for social distancing, we did not talk to other people or go into any businesses.

This little Northern Saw-whet Owl may have thought otherwise. Ken wanted to see if we could find them so I told him to watch for white wash under dense trees and if he did, he should look up. Sure enough, it worked and he found this tiny owl tucked up in some branches pretty well hidden. It was very hard to photograph.

Yesterday’s bird list for the whole day:

Canada Goose

Swan sp

Gadwall

American Wigeon

Mallard

Northern Pintail

Green-winged Teal

Canvasback

Redhead

Ring-necked Duck

Lesser Scaup

Bufflehead

Common Goldeneye

Hooded Merganser

Common Merganser

Ruddy Duck

California Quail

Ring-necked Pheasant

Wild Turkey

Pied-billed Grebe

Horned Grebe

Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon)

Eurasian Collared-Dove

Mourning Dove

American Coot

Killdeer

Common Loon

Double-crested Cormorant

Great Blue Heron

Golden Eagle

Sharp-shinned Hawk

Cooper’s Hawk/Northern Goshawk

Bald Eagle

Golden/Bald Eagle

Red-tailed Hawk

Northern Saw-whet Owl

Belted Kingfisher

Northern Flicker

American Kestrel

Say’s Phoebe

Black-billed Magpie

American Crow

Common Raven

Black-capped Chickadee

Horned Lark

Tree Swallow

Violet-green Swallow

Pygmy Nuthatch

European Starling

Western Bluebird

Mountain Bluebird

American Robin

House Sparrow

House Finch

American Goldfinch

Dark-eyed Junco

White-crowned Sparrow

Song Sparrow

Spotted Towhee

Western Meadowlark

Red-winged Blackbird

Brewer’s Blackbird

Yellow-rumped Warbler

The girls and I traveled to an agility event Friday, stopping on the way for a hike and then lunch with friends near Tonasket. It was a perfect spring day. Sunny and warm. At the start of the hike it was still frozen in the shadows but that changed while we were out. A creek tumbled down the canyon wall disappearing into the ground before it got to the canyon floor. Buttercups were blooming. Canyon Wrens were singing. A Golden Eagle stirred up all the Rock Pigeons. A fine outing.

We saw or heard these birds: Chukar, Golden Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Rock Pigeon, Northern Flicker, Say’s Phoebe, Black-billed Magpie, Common Raven, Canyon Wren, American Robin, Song Sparrow, Western Meadowlark. There were also lots of marmots.

What do you want for your birthday? I always hope to see something wonderful or have a wonderful time doing something I enjoy. Yesterday, the first day or Spring, was my birthday.

The girls and I headed over to the Okanogan in hopes of finding enough bare, snow-free ground for a good hike. Well good luck with that. Winter continues to linger on most of the hills unless they are steep and south-facing. We did manage to do some rambling and scrambling but the rotten snow was a challenge for a good walk and the open hillsides that were snow-free are so badly damaged by intensive grazing and wildfire that there are few native plants and lots of weeds. Since the big fires of 2014 many fences have been built in hopes of keeping livestock out of the creeks and this is a good thing. However, I crossed, over and under, numerous strings of barbed wire during our little outing.

Giving up on that, we headed across the Okanogan to the Timentwa Flats in search of Sandhill Cranes. But once again, winter’s grip is slow to let go and all the little lakes were frozen and the ground was snow-covered. I did see several Rough-legged Hawks and some Snow Buntings, both winter birds in our area, along with some vibrant Mountain Bluebirds and a pair of Killdeer walking on ice. It was a mixed bag. The road got progressively worse and I didn’t want to take a chance of getting caught in the mud so we turned around and gave up on that route.

We headed down to the Big River and Washburn Island. I knew it was snow-free and warm. We were able to walk all the way around it. At one point a Red-tailed Hawk circled above, screeching at us. Maybe there is a nest nearby? We were surprised when a small group of Sandhill Cranes lifted from the unseen cattails behind a row of Russian olive trees and flew around us landing somewhere behind where we had already walked. Sky enjoyed jumping in the Columbia and at the end we observed a Great Horned Owl in a nest.

All in all a pretty good birthday adventure and a beautiful day!

Four of us made a big birding loop down the Methow, up the Columbia, across the Okanogan and then up into the rocky, potholed highlands of the Colville Reservation. From there we dropped down to the Columbia River Road and then passed by Omak Lake and back down to highway 97 and then over the Loup to return to the Methow.

It was a good day of birding. We saw nearly sixty species including a pair of Long-billed Curlews shown here. They are one of my old favorite species and always a delight to see and hear and can be a challenge to find in this county.

 

This Chukar was in the middle of the road and we wondered if it was sitting on eggs or injured or something else. As we began to drive around it to the right, the bird popped up and joined another that was in the weedy grass on the left side of us. It looked like some sort of courting effort for the pair.

We saw many species of waterfowl, several types of raptors and few small birds. It seems that with the cold spring, the migration is slow to start. Besides the curlews, we saw only two other shorebirds species – Killdeer and Greater Yellowlegs. We heard a Ruffed Grouse. There were numerous Common Loons on the lower Methow. Two Osprey were calling to each other at the mouth of Methow, so loudly we could hear them with all the windows closed in the car.

All in all, a fun day of birding.

The first day of Spring featured cloudy, breezy weather bringing in sleet, rain and snow. We got out for some birding with one of the highlights being Sandhill Cranes and Tundra Swans on Cameron Lake Road east of the lower Okaongan Valley. The birds flew right across the road, giving us excellent views and a good opportunity to hear them calling back and forth. We estimated there were 200 to 300 cranes and maybe 25 swans.

Tundra Swans

Sandhill Cranes along Cameron Lake Road in Okanogan County

Sandhill Cranes along Cameron Lake Road in Okanogan County

Sandhill Cranes along Cameron Lake Road in Okanogan County

Sandhill Cranes along Cameron Lake Road in Okanogan County

Sandhill Cranes along Cameron Lake Road in Okanogan County

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