Here's the message I put on the NCWA birds list serve, a summary of my Okanogan weekend (with no Pygmy-Owls... humph).
If you don't know me, my name is Eric Heisey. I'm a 15 year old birder from the Yakima Valley. My family owns a cabin up in the Methow Valley in Edelweiss near Mazama, so I visit Okanogan county once or twice a month typically. I look forward to meeting other birders from the area, since I only know a very few.
Anyways, just wanted to give a summary of our trip over Presidents day weekend.
On our first day, we skied up Gunn Ranch up to the Grizzly Hut (not a huge ski, but we started late). I stopped many times listening for birds, and ended up with 14 species, including a Pileated Woodpecker, 5 Evening Grosbeaks, and a new county high count in Brown Creepers (12). I birded around our cabin as well, ending up with Evening Grosbeaks, Clark's Nutcracker, and Great Horned Owls.
On our second day, I helped out Steve Bondie with the Great backyard bird count at North Cascades Basecamp. Highlights were two loud Barred Owls, very early Red-naped Sapsuckers (by the way, if anyone helped him the next day and got photos, it would be greatly appreciated if you could send me them), and a flock of 80 Common Redpolls. It started raining around 12:00 P.M. so I went back to our cabin and birded once it stopped raining. This 4 hour walk produced 15 species, including my life Ruffed Grouse below our neighbors feeders (of which I snapped many photos), 2 Wilson's Snipe (pretty regular when the pools aren't frozen over, perfect habitat for them too), 20 Red Crossbills, a very early "Oregon" Dark-eyed Junco, and 4 Brown Creepers. Five Trumpeter Swans were also noted when we drove along SR-20.
The third day my mom promised me a big trip to wherever I desired within reason. We chose to go up Cameron Lake Rd and then up to Conconully for White-winged Crossbills. On the drive to Pateros, we saw 6 Wild Turkeys coming out of their roost by Thompson Meats in Twisp, a Wilson's Snipe along a muddy section of the river, and Red-winged Blackbirds awaiting spring on frozen beaver ponds. The Methow/ Columbia River convergence had some 3000+ Coots, a Common Loon, and 100 Common Goldeneyes. In Pateros, we stopped at the bakery along the river. The trees there had a Townsend's Solitaire and Cedar Waxwings. From there, we headed up Cameron Lake Rd, which had 400+ Horned Larks (no Snow Buntings...), 3 White-headed Woodpeckers (another lifer, I got some decent photos this time), 30 Pygmy Nuthatches, and 20 Red Crossbills (the Ponderosa forest was very productive). On the way to Conconully, we noted a Rough-legged Hawk and a Belted Kingfisher. At Conconully, the White-winged Crossbills seemed to be imaginary, in fact, we saw 6 different species. There was an owl of some sort, it sounded like a call of a Spotted Ow; but deeper (this was up towards Cottonwoods campground), I'm guessing Great Horned but am not certain. The drive back wasn't too exciting, but on a quick stop in Winthrop at the riverside park on the east side of town produced 2 Pygmy Nuthatch, a Common Merganser, and a female Barrow's Goldeneye hanging around with a female Common Goldeneye (got good photos of the pair). At our cabin, I did a long walk to the upper reaches of Edelweiss along Homestead Rd, where a White-headed Woodpecker and White-breasted Nuthatch were reported (I missed both).
On our last day, I did the same walk along Homestead Rd, this time coming up with much better birds (15 species), with a White-headed Woodpecker, 45+ Clark's Nutcrackers, a flock of 30 Red Crossbills, 2 very early American Robins, and a Red-tailed Hawk. From there I did the GBBC at base camp again, coming up with the same flock of Common Redpolls, a Red Crossbill, a Pileated Woodpecker, and 7 Golden-crowned Kinglets. Back at our cabin, preparing to leaving I scrambled around to get a White-breasted Nuthatch, along with two Golden-crowned Kinglets and a Wilson's Snipe. On the way out to Pateros, I saw over 30 Bald Eagles, a Sharp-shinned Hawk, and a Cooper's Hawk. Stopping at the bakery again gave me some of the best birds of the trip. 5 Common Loons were present, with a loon that I think to be either a Pacific or possibly even an Arctic Loon (Here's my description on eBird: http://ebird.org/ebird/view/checklist?subID=S13104516
). Also there was the same Townsend's Solitaire, a very close Horned Grebe, and 2 Greater Scaup.
Sorry if I rambled a bit, but there were some very good birds. I have photos of almost every notable on my flickr page if you're interested, as well as birds from other parts of the state/country. I would love to hear about any good sightings (one good one that I saw reported on eBird is a Great Gray Owl seen at the Havillah Sno Park a few times by west side birders), feel free to contact me at magicman32@...
, I would love to meet other birders as well. Also, here's the link to my flickr page: http://www.flickr.com/photos/birdfishphotos/
Also, on a bird walk below my house today, I noticed that the Great Blue Herons are back in the Heron rookery across the river. I counted 54 bird (an eBird high count), but there were very likely more since i wasn't counting the ones that flew in and out. Also, the Spotted Sandpiper is still here! I haven't seen it for around two weeks, but it seems like he's still actively feeding in the same place as he was two weeks ago. He flew in calling "tee-goo!".
If anyone is interested in helping me with my Loon ID, email me and I will be happy to send you the photos (I may post them on flickr later, but I wouldn't count on it).