Hello Tweets, Encouraged by some good birds seen in the mountains north of Skykomish recently I took a trip up to the mountains this morning.
Although all the action has been happening at Johnson Ridge, I decided to head to Evergreen Mountain first since it's my favorite spot up here. On the road up I found a very cold looking Ruffed Grouse on the road at 3400ft. It let me pull within feet of it before walking off the road into the brush.
I did this hike a month ago, which was a bit later than my ideal. From the end of August through early September this spot can be absolutely alive with birds of many types, but by the end of October things are down quite a bit. I'd never been up here later than early October, so I was curious to what I'd find. I figured it'd be quiet, but I was amazed at how absolutely dead it felt. I think I walked around for about 15 minutes before I detected my first bird of any type.
Up on the trail a ways I caught site of a large accipiter coming down the ridge. Unfortunately it placed itself pretty much between me and the sun so I was not able to get much in the way of field marks before losing it. A few minutes later I had a Sharp-Shinned come over the same ridge.
Three Mountain Chickadees popped up next to the trail, which was a nice surprise. I have scoured chickadee flocks in this area on every occasion, but only found a Mountain Chickadee once in a couple dozen visits. A Red-Tailed Hawk could be seen hunting in the meadow at the top of the mountain and I had flyovers by a single Pine Siskin and Evening Grosbeak. Back at the parking lot I was able to pish up three Chestnut-Backed Chickadees, a couple Red-Breasted Nuthatches, and two Mountain Chickadees. Whether these were the same two I had higher on the mountain I do not know. On my way down the mountain I flushed several Sooty Grouse from the roadside, had some gray jays fly across the road, and heard a Pygmy Owl.
I made my way back to Johnson Ridge where I encountered Rick and Tina Taylor on their way down from the ridge where they'd seen the Goshawk that's been there for a better part of a month. Encouraged by this news, I parked at the top and stared at the ridge. And stared and stared and stared. Occasionally a raptor would pop into view, but all turned out to be Red-Tailed Hawks. Maxine Reid showed up as I was about to leave, so I stuck around. We saw a couple more Red-Tails, but eventually got a nice look at a Rough-Legged Hawk, which was a nice surprise. Later an eagle fly over as well, I believe a Bald Eagle, but I didn't see enough to completely rule out Golden.
I was pretty disappointed to miss the Goshawk, but it's always interesting to see what's up at high elevations at a new time of year.
PS: Just had a couple Trumpeter Swans fly past in the dark as I was writing this heading to Shadow Lake.