Date: 12/29/17 6:54 pm
From: Jon Houghton <jon.houghton...>
Subject: [Tweeters] Okanogan - Day 3 (anti-climax)
Hi Tweets - Another snowless night in Omak; I feared that wouldn't bode well for the Sharp-tailed Grouse quest, but we headed back up to Scotch Creek anyway, hoping that maybe it had snowed in the sage hills above the riparian areas (sometimes) used by those birds. After scoping the lower portions of the riparian strip with nothing but Rough-legged Hawks and a Raven or two, we headed west. As we crossed the creek on Conconully Rd., it started to snow - very light and fluffy making the nearly deserted (except for numerous deer) streets of Conconully maximally attractive; but nearly bird free. We didn't spend a lot of time but, only a few American Goldfinch and Dark-eyed Junco at one backyard feeder. We drove south along the west lake shore where we've typically been able to find quite a few species, but only managed a single RB Nuthatch, again at a feeder. Farther out on FS road 42, we did find a nice group of larch-top Red Crossbills accompanied by a few Mountain Chickadees. That was about it! On the way back down toward Omak, raptors ruled. In addition to the afore-mentioned, Bald and Golden Eagles, a Northern Harrier, a Sharp-shinned, and a couple of American Kestrel. In addition to the lack of snow, my other theory on the absence of grouse is that the abundance of raptors, perhaps enhanced by very cold weather in the last week or two (-13 last week in Chesaw), has discouraged the grouse from hanging out in the naked treetops. In the field along Conconully Rd. that had Gray Partridge and Cal. Quail yesterday, only quail were visible today through the snow. So, despite the lack of new snow and the overall low numbers of birds, I'd have to say the trip was a success thanks to the few good birds from Day 1 and 2 - they say timing is everything!! Happy Birding to all in the New Year! - Jon

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