Subject: [Tweeters] Birding with San Diego Audubon 7-15 July (long)
Date: Jul 22 17:03:43 2009
From: B&PBell - bellasoc at

Hi Tweets

Late post -

I got back late last week from a 9 day trip guiding a group from San Diego Audubon. We started out at Mt. Rainier and were frustrated because they still had 52" of snow on the ground - couldn't walk the trails. So, we modified the trip and went around to Sunrise the next day, July 8th. Took longer than expected because the Stevens Canyon road is closed. When we got to Sunrise, we took the trail out to Frozen Lake and along the way we almost stepped on a couple of female SOOTEY GROUSE, and then a ways up the Fremont Peak trail. We got a response from a WHITE-TAILED PTARMIGAN and finally tracked it down. It was a male in transitional plumage with a completely white belly. We got good scope looks and then moved closer. We finally wound up about 50 feet away with the bird not paying much attention to us. It finally moved over onto the trail and took a dust bath. Had a bunch of happy birders then. Also picked up GRAY JAY, CLARK'S NUTCRACKER, AMERICAN PIPIT, and many of the usual small birds.

We had to get to Leavenworthth that evening, and made a quick stop on SR410 at the Bumping River where we saw an AMERICAN DIPPER- a special bird for some. The next morning we had three WHITE-HEADED WOODPECKERs in the motel parking lot - that saved us some time. Down to Camas Meadow where we spent a good bit of the morning. Saw SOOTY GROUSE, CASSIN'S FINCH, TOWNSEND'S and MACGILLIVRAY WARBLERs, WESTERN TANAGER and a dozen EVENING GROSBEAKS (I was surprised they were thrilled to see them - they are apparently rare in San Diego). We stopped at Confluence S.P. in Wenatchee and found nesting EASTERN KINGBIRD (a thrill for them) and GRAY CATBIRD, along with HOUSE WREN, BULLOCK'S ORIOLE, KILLDEER, OSPREY on nest and NORTHERN ROUGH-WINGED SWALLOW. We worked our way up to Winthrop, picking up VEERY along the way - like most Veeries it didn't give us much of a view. West of Twisp, at Shaw Lake, we found COMMON GOLDENEYE.

The next morning we were working our way up toward Sun Lodge, saw more EASTERN KINGBIRDs, added WESTERN MEADOWLARK, and found a female DUSKY GROUSE alongside the road. Got great looks at her and were able to move quite close - while we were watching three young came out. We had an AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER fly in (a lifer for several), watched it get chased by a HAIRY WOODPECKER. Up at Beaver Pond we had great looks at BARROW'S GOLDENEYE(another lifer for some), LESSER SCAUP, RING-NECKED DUCK, OSPREYon the nest, CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD juvenile, and a perched WILSON'S SNIPE (they had never seen one in breeding plumage or perched). We returned to SR 20 and up through Winthrop. It was pretty quiet going up FR37, and we had some strange noises from the brakes on one car so we didn't go up FR39. We went over Baldy Pass (really quiet, although we had hints of a Boreal Chickadee calling). We stopped party way down toward Conconully and found a nesting pair of WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKERs bringing in food and carrying away fecal sacs.

The next day we went up FR38 out of Conconully and switched to FR3820 at Salmon Meadows campground. At an area up the hill where they had been doing some kind of logging activity the ground was pretty stirred up, and we must have had 50-60 EVENING GROSBEAKs and a bunch of CASSIN'S FINCHES coming in - had to drag the group away. Further up the road we ran across a fellow who had just seen Boreal Chickadee and we made an attempt to see it, unsuccessfully. A ways further up the road we parked and walked, it was getting too rough for one of the vehicles we had - we heard VARIED THRUSH (having heard it several times before but had not seen one. We finally pulled in a BOREAL CHICKADEE, a life bird for most in the group. We stopped for lunch at the park in Tonasket, and saw EURASIAN COLLARED-DOVE on the way in. We had a nesting WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE in almost plain sight in a tree in the parking lot, and a BELTED KINGFISHER over the river. The afternoon was hot and virtually birdless - we did have momentary looks at BOBOLINK up the hill from Tonasket, but most people didn't see them. We tried for them on the way back down, but they weren't cooperating.

On the way back over the Cascades on the 12th, we stopped at Loup Loup Campground and got nice looks at a GRAY JAY family, HAIRY WOODPECKER, WILLIAMSON'S and RED-NAPED SAPSUCKERs, WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH, BROWN CREEPER, and a tailless juvenile WESTERN TANAGER. At Washington Pass we had CLARK'S NUTCRACKERs making calls I had never heard before. The highlight was when we called in a pair of PINE GROSBEAKs, a desired bird for many on the trip. It was raining down by Newhalem and the birding wasn't what it normally is. Walked a ways in toward the ponds, but only saw SONG SPARROW, BEWICK'S WREN, SWAINSON'S THRUSH and AMERICAN ROBIN. We finished the day at White Rock in BC, where we had GREAT BLUE HERON, CASPIAN TERN, GLAUCOUS-WINGED GULL and CALIFORNIA GULL.

The next morning we stopped by Boundary Bay on the way to the ferry over to Vancouver Island. There were 50 or so GREAT BLUE HERONs on the mudflats (the tide was out). We did pick up WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPERs and SEMIPALMATED PLOVER. A couple of BALD EAGLES were on the mudflats and picked up and left -by then they weren't a novelty for the group. As the ferry pulled out of Tsawassen there were three BLACK OYSTERCATCHERs on the jetty. On the ferry to Vancouver Island we saw PIGEON GUILLEMOT, RHINOCEROS AUKLET, PELAGIC CORMORANT and very briefly MARBLED MURRELET. We ran into a local birder on the boat who gave us some good advice on where to bird. We went to the Saanich Bulb Fields and almost immediately had SKY LARK - one of the prime target birds of the group. One flew within 2 minutes of getting out of the car, and then circle waaaay up and do a display with calling and wing fluttering for about 5 minutes before diving back into the weeds. That made the trip over a success. We finished off the day down at Clover Point in Victoria with some alcids, BLACK OYSTERCATCHER and ORCAS.

We gave people a free day the next day - we did take a walk in Beacon Hill Park the next morning. Picked up another target, CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEE early in our walk. In fact we probably saw 30 or more of them in the next 30 minutes, plus lots of RED-BREASTED NUTHATCHes, and BROWN CREEPER, ORANGE-CROWNED WARBLER, SPOTTED TOWHEE, ANNA'S HUMMINGBIRD, BEWICK'S WREN, and a COOPER'S HAWK with prey. Part of the group went on a whale-watching tour and saw many of the birds we had seen coming over. Another part of the group went up to Butchart Gardens, and saw PURPLE MARTIN there - the only one we saw on the trip.

The next morning we took the ferry back across to the Vancouver area and stopped in Reifel - kind of dead in July, but lots of Mallards around. We did have GREATER YELLOWLEGS, LESSER YELLOWLEGS, WESTERN and LEAST SANDPIPER, SANDHILL CRANE in breeding plumage. A
a highlight for the group was a breeding plumage LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER. They had never seen that before - they are always drab when they see them down in San Diego.

A great trip with a very nice group of people, seeing between 4 and 9 life birds, and some that they don't see in breeding plumage. Saw 155 birds total, and everyone seemed really satisfied. If anyone wants a copy of our complete list, e-mail me and I will send them a MS Word document with the list.

Brian H. Bell
Birding & Natural History Guide
Woodinville WA
mail to bell asoc at iso media dot com