Friday, October 22, 2010

Raven - Mt Spokane State Park

Raven - Mt Spokane State Park
Monday, October 11th

After making an airport run to drop off my son, who needed to get back to his job in Washington DC, I headed north to Mt Spokane State Park.  This place is quite a contrast from the Palouse hills. Rising 58oo feet it is forested mountain, popular for winter sports like downhill and cross country skiing. I walked a  couple of these cross country skiing trails, no snow yet as the temperature was around 40 degrees, looking for my target birds of the conifers forests.

A ski trail
Jon Isacoff had recommended this location  for dusky grouse and pine grosbeak. And higher up on the bare areas below the summit we could have Arctic migrants like snow bunting, horned larks, mountain bluebirds and townsend's solitaire.

Summit of Mt Spokane
 I entered the park on the ever rising and winding two lane road.  I stopped several times in search of birds.  It was difficult to caught sight of many of them as they darted in and out of the concealment of the towering conifers. I was surprised to find a flock of about seven wild turkeys standing on the shoulder of the road.  As I stopped to attempt a photo, they did not seem to be very concerned about my presence.

The temperature was about 40 degrees and foggy in some locations
 I stopped at a couple of locations and walked the ski trails.  It was not very birdy but I managed to locate a mixed flock here or there. Here was my finial LIFER of the trip with a couple of Mountain Chickadees. Also several Yellow-Rumped Warblers, Dark-eyed Juncos and Red-Breasted Nuthatches were seen.  Saw and heard several Common Ravens and had a small flock of darting Ruby-Crowned and Golden-Crowned Kinglets.  Had not seen a golden-crowned kinglet since Starve Rock State Park in Illinois in 1973. Other birds that were seen lower down, before the mountain, included Western Bluebird and House Finches.

View from the ski lift area
 I never made it up to the highest elevation in search of the migrants and I could kick myself for it. But I had neglected to gas up before heading into the woods and was concerned about the possibility getting stranded..  I'll have to return someday and do it right.  I'd also like to join with someone who already knows the ground.  It saves on a lot of wasted time and offers a lot more success. Beside the migrants I was disappointed in not locating any stellers or gray jays. I understand that a lot of these species can be found in Maine as well.

Noticed a lot of mushrooms and fungus in the woods. In my attempt to try and identify these mushrooms, I found that Mt Spokane is a popular wild mushroom picking location and that there is a Spokane Mushroom Picking Club

Wild Turkeys
  My Mt Spokane List - (10)
Wild Turkey, Common Raven, Mountain Chickadee, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Ruby-crowned Kinglet, Western Bluebird, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Dark-eyed Junco, House Finch

Instead of heading back to Mt Spokane, after finding a gas station, I elected to head over to nearby Coeur d'alene, Idaho as I had heard it was beautiful place. I drove around the area looking for a likely birding spot, as I was still interested in finding horned and eared grebes and was told red-necked grebes can be found here too. Ended up on the campus of Northern Idaho College which borders were the Spokane River becomes Lake Coeur d'alene. Found large masses of Canadian Geese and Ring-billed Gulls.  A large flock of American Crows on the campus as well.  A few Mallards were there and I spotted a Western Grebe.  From a distance I thought I had a ruddy duck, but a closer viewing reveled it as a grebe as it was fighting some swells to head out into the river. Lots of small birds high in the trees, but they remanded a mystery for another day.

A view of the Spokane River near Coeur d'alene, Idaho
This was the ending for my vacation to eastern Washington and Northern Idaho.  Would like return someday. The kids wedding on Saturday was a success and we will be following up with a much more causal wedding party in November for all or friends and relatives who could not travel the 3000 miles from Florida. As for my birding, I managed to locate about 15 lifers. Could have gotten more, but it gives a good reason to try again.

I again want to thank Terry Gray, Mike Mortensen, Chalres Swift and Jonathan Isacoff.  I have to thank Melissa and Robbie for dragging me here as well. Thanks kids.
The far shore had large numbers of Canadian Geese, Ring-billed Gulls, some Mallards and a lone Western Grebe
My Coeur D'alene List - (5)
Canada Goose, Mallard, Western Grebe, Ring-billed Gull, American Crow

1 comment: