Sunday, October 17, 2010

Oregan Juncos - Steptoe Butte, Whitman County, Washington

Oregan Juncos -
Steptoe Butte, Whitman County, Washington
Sunday, October 10th

A flushed pheasant wouldn't pose for a picture be the Llama was obliging
 One suggestion I received on possible birding sites in Washington was the Steptoe Butte State Park. Jon Iscoff had made a few suggestions for birding around Spokane and Steptoe Butte was one that was convenient to my travels between Spokane and Moscow. Due to its altitude there was possibilities for some Arctic migrants to be found.  Including horned lark, lapland longspur and snow bunting. So as a last minute decision I elected to stop here on my way back to Spokane from Lewiston.

Along the access road to the state park, I noticed a male Ring-necked Pheasant in a field on my right. And as I stopped to see if I could get a photo,  the pheasant elected not to pose. It flushed across the road to the llama farm on the left.  Well, the llamas were far more obliging.

Steptoe Butte
 Found the drive to the top to be a uncomfortable trip with the narrow lane and sheer drop-off. Did not see any birdlife on the way up, but the views were cool. Did not see any birds at the top either. Returned to bottom and birded around the entrance. Were a pair of Cooper's Hawks were zipping through the trees and may have been after a flock of "Oregon" Dark-eyed Juncos. Maybe the Northern Flicker that joined them as well.

The Oregon subspecies of the dark-eyed junco is a beautifully bird featuring a dark hood whereas the dark-eyed juncos I recall from Illinois were called Slate-side Juncos.

Was able to add Brown-headed Cowbird after leaving the park when I observed a cowbird flew onto the rump of a horse in a nearby pasture. Understand that this is a common practise with this bird, just hadn't seen before.

View from the top

Another view from the top

Guard rails were not always were you'd like to see one on the drive to the top

I suppose I could have walked to the top

My List at Steptoe Butte - (7)
Ring-necked Pheasant, Cooper's Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Northern Flicker, Dark-eyed Junco, Brown-headed Cowbird

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