Saturday, March 28, 2009

Okanogan Highlands Highlights

Burrowing Male 1/a>
We left Tuesday for Ephrata, wishing to check out the Rimrock Meadows area, which is adjacent to Moses Coulee, and has trails leading into the Nature Conservancy area. Heading out of Ephrata taking 1st ST east, which turns into Sagebrush Flat Road, and then Rim Rock Road (this turns into highway 2 which leads to Waterville) After passing Hackamore on the left, (before you hit highway 2) following the curve on the road, you turn left onto an unmarked road. A couple of phone boxes down (on the left side) is Golden Place, on the left, which means you have made the correct turn. Following the road to the right it becomes sandy, at the T go left and follow to the end. There is a really nice area with picnic tables, a creek, and several birds were there, ROUGH WINGED SWALLOWS, MTN BLUEBIRDS, SAY'S PHOEBES, FLICKERS, DOWNY WOODPECKER and a number of other migrants. Found a pair of Snipe along the creek. This is going to be a good area, and I will check it out again the first of May. Coming out again I had a Loggerhead Shrike along the highway, which flew before I could get any pics of him.
The next morning we had several ROUGH LEGGED HAWKS, lots of RED TAILS, BALD EAGLES, as we headed towards Brewster.
Lake Lenore area, held high numbers of CANVAS BACKS, COMMON GOLDEN EYE, and various other ducks.
CONCONULLY State Park was a bit quiet as it was mid afternoon by the time we got there, however altho much of SINLAHEKEN Rd was frozen and muddy, it was passable, but the only highlight in this area were the PYGMY NUTHATCHES, past Conners Lake. We turned around following FISH LAKE ROAD, running into many BLUEBIRDS of both kinds, numerous SAYS PHOEBES, and a large flock of TURKEYS, near a farm. We had one TOWNSENDS SOLITAIRE in a tree as well.
The next morning we headed out to Tonasket-Havillah Rd, WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER being a highlight species. We also had 3 TURKEY VULTURES before Teas Rd.
We continued on finding a variety of the usual suspects along the route to Mary Anne Creek Road, where I hit the jackpot with two target birds.
I found a flock of about 20 PINE GROSBEAK, feeding along the snowbanks, and was following and trying to photograph them when a large flock of at least 50 COMMON REDPOLLS came in and scattered all around me. Until this time, I had only had the opportunity to see 1 Pine Grosbeak (a nesting female along Teal Lake area years ago) and one Common Redpoll.
We continued on to Molson where we had again numerous RED TAILS of a variety of plumage, some brilliant in color, and more Rough Legged Hawks, and a nice number of COMMON GOLDENEYES again in the melted parts of the waterways there, as well and Canada Geese.
Many roads proved to be very muddy, Bolster Road was a mess, and ended up being a challenge turning around, and not profitable at all as far as birds went.
The next day we hit Cameron Lake Road on the way home, and had a large flock of COMMON GOLDENEYE'S again, and PYGMY NUTHATCHES in one area. Towards the end of the road heading south, we had a large flock of TUNDRA AND TRUMPETER SWAN, with an even larger flock of SANDHILL CRANE'S, and a beautiful pair of Dark ROUGH LEGGED HAWKS, whose pic I could NOT get into focus with my equipment. I had a large flock of MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS also, maybe 50 or more, just before I ran into the only NORTHERN SHRIKE on this road.
Pateros produced a flyby WESTERN KINGBIRD.
It was nice to get out and see an area I had not birded in years, although the migration has not yet begun. I look forward to hitting this area again, and have appreciated the many postings recently for the Okanagan Highlands area. Hal Opperman's book and the writing of Andy Stepniewski were greatly appreciated, and made my life much easier! Thanks!!!

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