My Precious – An Okanogan trip featuring a Ross’s Gull (WA, X-mas 2011)

Mike Fleming and I just returned from another X-mas Okanogan trip that couldn’t be beat. The superstar of the trip wasof course the Palmer Lake Ross’s Gull which we ended up seeing twice – on 12/23 and 12/25. Field marks such as the wedge-shaped tail, pink underbelly, dark under and light unform upperwings were very obvious.

Here the other highlights:

Gray Partridge (9 just south of Timentwa Rd along Cameron Lake Rd on 12/23)

American Tree Sparrow (10 birds 1.3mi north of Abel Ranch along Cameron Lake Rd on 12/23)

Gray-crowned Rosy-finch (2 flocks of about 25 birds near 435 Nealey Rd, several more near roost site along Nealey Rd, Okanogan Highlands, 12/24)

Pine Grosbeak (7 birds along Mary Ann Ck Rd at the western end of Poland-China Rd, Okanogan Highlands, 12/24)

Common Redpoll (~50 in Chesaw, 12 along Mary Ann Ck Rd, Okanogan Highlands, 12/24; ~35 at picnic area ~15mi up Toats Coulee Rd/FR39 on 12/25)

Bohemian Waxwing (~100 birds in Chesaw on 12/24, chased off by a Northern Goshawk)

Northern Goshawk (2 sightings of possibly the same adult near/in Chesaw on 12/24) White-winged Crossbill (several birds at picnic area ~15mi up Toats Coulee Rd/FR39 on 12/25, including one particularly showy individual; this was thanks to a tip from Andy & Ellen Stepniewsky who had seen these birds one day prior)

Snowy Owl (3 on the Waterville Plateau on 12/26: 2 along Rd H between Rd 15 and 17, 1 near Rd J & Rd 14)

Lapland Longspur (3 birds in a large Horned Lark flock about 1mi east of Mansfield, Waterville Plateau on 12/26)

Sage Grouse (~35 birds along Division Rd west of Mansfield on 12/26; this was a big surprise to us!)

Also lots of Northern Shrikes and Rough-legged Hawks up in the Okanogan Highlands and on the Waterville Plateau. The only Red Crossbills on the trip were seen along Cameron Lake Rd, where we also got Pygmy Nuthatch. We searched in vain for a Gyrfalcon. 7 Golden Eagles was on the high side, whereas only 1 Northern Pygmy-Owl was seen all trip long (Bolster Rd near Chesaw). Both Northern Sawwhet-Owl (Bridgeport State Park) and Snow Bunting (anywhere) were missed for the first time in about 10 winter trips. We did not try for Sharp-tailed Grouse this time around as the snow levels seemed too low.

Interesting today (12/26) were a Lincoln’s Sparrow and a Yellow-rumped Warbler on Washburn Island and 2 Red-necked Grebes from the Murphy Rd access above the Chief Joseph Dam in Bridgeport.

None of the known feeders along Hungry Hollow, Grange and Nealey Rd in the Okanogan Highlands were active. As previously mentioned by Khanh Tran, the house along Hungry Hollow burned down; the owner is maintaing a feeder though and will rebuild.


One Comment

  1. Not even a staked out, 10-foot-away, day time, Saw-whet? Oh man, what’s the Okanogan coming to?

    Excellent birding! I can’t wait to visit soon!


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