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