Date: 5/26/18 8:33 am
From: Gary Bletsch <garybletsch...>
Subject: [Tweeters] Upper Skagit birds
Dear Tweeters,
Yesterday, the 25th of May, Mike Nelson and I tried for the Hermit Warbler that was reported up at the Hardy Burn. We did not find it, although we spent four hours there. We saw and heard lots of Townsend's Warblers, a couple of Olive-sided Flycatchers, and a Grey Jay, plus a raptor way up in the sky that I am 90% sure was an adult Northern Goshawk. When Mike spotted the raptor, we were up on the steep slopes of the lower burn, with no scopes.
Odd misses there at Mount Hardy puzzled us--no ravens, no Chestnut-backed Chickadees, no Sooty Grouse.
On a stop at Newhalem on the way up, we had tried for the Common Grackle, and missed it. There were no birds at the feeders, although we could see some millet in them.
After missing the Hermit, on the way back westwards we stopped at the County Line Ponds. On a whim, we bypassed the usual pond area, which straddles the county line itself. We continued on a bit westwards and parked at what I callĀ  "County Line Ponds West," which is a little dirt road a few hundred yards downriver from the usual gated access road, on the river side of the highway. There, we were fortunate to find two singing AMERICAN REDSTARTS. This was the earliest I have ever found them in Skagit. To find them, we had to do a bit of bushwhacking down to a side channel of the river. We left a piece of metal tape, marked "AMRE," on a bush by the spot where we left the access road and started bushwhacking on the remains of a faint track.
This access road to the County Line Ponds West has a couple of medium-sized trees that have fallen across it. Beyond the two blowdowns, the road degenerates to a mere path, and is now getting overgrown with plants towards the end, where it approaches the river. That's where we started bushwhacking. We also found an orange baseball cap, closer to the side channel, and stuck that in a bush, in case anyone wants to try to relocate these birds.
All in all, it seemed like a good day for birding. I suspect that we might have found some rare birds, if we had not placed all of our bets on the Hardy Burn, where we spent the heart of the morning. The Agg Ponds west of Newhalem were reasonably birdy in the hot hours of the afternoon, and there were lots of mosquitoes there, which bodes well for the birds. We noticed new signage at the Agg Ponds; the signs specifically refer to bird-watching as a permitted activity there! That was good news, since the previous signs had always suggested that the entire area was off-limits.
Yours truly,
Gary Bletsch

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