Subject: [Tweeters] Boreal Chickadees, et al. (Late and Long Report)
Date: Jul 28 18:03:25 2009
From: Carol Riddell - cariddell at earthlink.net


Hi Tweets,

I followed the reports of Boreal Chickadees above Salmon Meadows and
had a weekend scheduled in Eastern Washington anyway so decided to
make the detour. I cruised through Twisp about 5:30 a.m. Saturday
and noted one COMMON NIGHTHAWK in flight across the highway. I
stopped at Loup Loup Campground to use the facilities before anyone
was up and about other than a GRAY JAY. All campers were still
abed. I then drove into Conconully along FR 42 where the best
observation was seven SOOTY GROUSE (or hybrid, who knows), two adults
and five youngsters. In the first mile above Salmon Meadows I worked
through a large mixed flock that had no chickadees. It included
EVENING GROSBEAK, CHIPPING SPARROW, ROBIN, PINE SISKIN, NASHVILLE
WARBLER, TOWNSEND's WARBLER, WILLIAMSON's SAPSUCKER, JUNCO, and
CASSIN's FINCH. FR 38 does not actually become hairy and perhaps
unpassable for lower-slung passenger vehicles until about the three-
mile point. That is after a bit of a white-knuckle traverse along a
steep slope and after the roads curves to the left. At a small
clearing, just after the curve, I got out to try again for the
chickadees and there I found several BOREAL CHICKADEES.

Since I had never driven FR 38 from Salmon Meadows to FR 39 (the
forest road that connects Winthrop to Loomis), I decided to see what
it was like. Hoo wee! Once you hit the state portion that bisects
the Loomis State Forest and goes over Lone Frank Pass, the death grip
on the steering wheel kicks in. It's quite a ride through gullies
and rock mountains and I'm referring to the road itself, not the
scenery. I finally stopped some ATVers, whose sight never looked so
welcoming, and asked about the condition of the road beyond. I was
assured that I had just passed through the worst section and while I
still had a ways to the intersection with FR 39, I would easily make
it. And I did. The road condition continued to improve and once I
was on FR 39, I felt as if I were on a highway! It was a nice wild
flower drive through the remains of the Tripod Fire with few birds.
The one nice sighting was MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD. I made it to Ferry
County by 1 p.m. and felt as if I had already completed a long and
birdy day.

In the Republic area I had CANADA GOOSE, MALLARD, KILLDEER, WOOD
DUCK, KESTREL, CEDAR WAXWING, HAIRY and DOWNY WOODPECKERs, BLACK-
CHINNED, RUFOUS, and CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRDs, CATBIRD, STARLING, RED-
WINGED BLACKBIRD, BREWER's BLACKBIRD, BARN SWALLOW, WILSON's, YELLOW
and MacGILLIVRAY's WARBLERs, SAVANNAH SPARROW, STELLER's JAY, CLARK's
NUTCRACKER, RED CROSSBILL, HOUSE, PURPLE, and CASSIN's FINCHes,
LAZULI BUNTING, CROW, RAVEN, many BULLOCK's ORIOLES, BELTED
KINGFISHER, WESTERN WOOD PEWEE, WILLOW FLYCATCHER, PINE SISKIN, and
SONG SPARROW.

Sunday brought an eight-hour scheduled power outage throughout Ferry
County so my hosts wanted to "get out of town," so to speak. We
headed up to Sherman Pass for an hour or two of huckleberry picking
and then wandered east toward the Kettle River. We decided to head
south to Inchelium and travel the Silver Creek Road that is a birding
route from Inchelium to Keller. It was hot and after two o;clock so
were were in the birding doldrums and didn't see much. At some point
we reached a turn-off to the north with a sign to Frosty Meadows. I
had not heard of it and could not find any reference to it in
Opperman (Birders Guide to Washington), although the map on page 464
does show a portion of Wilmont Creek Road. But my birding companions
remembered it being part of a WOS trip the year the WOS conference
was in Republic and had heard Ken Knittle mention it recently. None
of us had been there so we decided it was time to see it. This is on
the Colville Indian Reservation and follows Little Wilmont Creek.
Frosty Meadow is extensive and can be easily birded from the road. A
scope would be helpful but not required. The creek runs close to the
road for the most part so that is where it's bushy. Lots of swallows
were flying over the meadows. We saw one GOLDEN EAGLE. We also saw
CALIFORNIA QUAIL, CEDAR WAXWING, RED-EYED VIREO, CATBIRD, PACIFIC
SLOPE and GRAY FLYCATCHERs, ROBIN, COMMON YELLOWTHROAT, YELLOW and
MacGILLIVRAY's WARBLERS, and NORTHERN FLICKER. RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER
was heard. We thought that was pretty good for a hot 4 p.m. It was
obvious that this is probably the Ferry County hot spot during
migration. Once the road connects to Bridge Creek Road, it's a ten
mile drive back to the Sanpoil River and Highway 21. On the way back
north to Republic, we watched 50+ COMMON NIGHTHAWKS near Thirty Mile
Road. When we got back to Republic, my hosts dug out their notebook
from the WOS conference and sent along this description of the
conference field trip that included Frosty Meadow. I am assuming
that Friedlander Meadows warrants a birding trip, too. I am
including the WOS field trip description here for anyone who wants to
print it out and keep it for reference.

Carol Riddell
Edmonds

Sanpoil River Valley to Frosty Meadow

Sanpoil Road from Thirty Mile Road south to Keller to avoid traffic
and lack of pull-outs along Hwy 21. The riparian habitat along the
Sanpoil from 14-38 miles south of Republic (Gold Creek to Lime Creek
Roads) is dominated by Black Cottonwood, Quaking Aspen, and various
willows and hosts passerines of distinctly "eastern" distribution
including Northern Waterthrush, American Redstart, Veery, Gray
Catbird, Red-eyed Vireo, Least Flycatcher and Eastern Kingbird.
Other species of a more "western" distribution include a variety of
woodpeckers/sapsuckers, flycatchers, swallows, nuthatches, Cedar
Waxwing, warblers including Yellow-breasted Chat, finches including
Black-headed Grosbeak, and Bullock's Oriole. Raptors including both
eagles and osprey can be seen south of Keller on the Sanpoil arm of
Lake FDR (grebes, ducks, Caspian Tern from the Keller Ferry). East
of Keller, the Silver Creek Road climbs through Ponderosa Pine/
Douglas Fir forest where woodpeckers such as White-headed and Hairy
may be found [an alternate route to Frosty Meadow via the Copper &
Cook Creek Roads has also produced White-headed Woodpeckers]. At
about 14 miles, the northern terminus of the Ninemile-Hellgate Road
intersects the Silver Creek Road from the south. From that junction,
the first two miles of the Hellgate Road flank the west side of
Friedlander Meadows. Owls have seemed to segregate themselves along
the meadow as follows: Great Gray (rare) on the north end, Great
Horned and N. Pygmy -- in the Ponderosa on the west, Barred in the
Lodgepole on the east, and Saw-whet on the south -- not to mention
occasional White-headed Woodpecker or Williamson's Sapsucker in the
old snags just south of the meadow system. Proceeding east -- five
miles on the Silver Creek road from the Hellgate junction and then
north -- 7 miles on Ninemile Creek Road eventually brings one to
Frosty Meadow where a short system of beaver dams found along the
creek once provided "habitat" for an unbelievable Sage Thrasher! The
riparian habitat and Ponderosa-covered hillsides along this narrow
valley hold a variety of passerines, raptors, jays, Clark's
Nutcracker, Barred Owl and Goshawk; Great Gray Owl has been heard at
Frosty. Over the whole of this route, and particularly along the
southern stretches of the Sanpoil, chances of observing wildlife such
as Mule & White-tailed Deer and Black Bear are pretty good. Return
to the Sanpoil Valley via Bridge Creek Road some 5-6 miles north of
Frosty."


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