March 15, 2009 in Outdoors

Self-guided swan route for wildlife watchers

 
Tags:swans

Self-guided access (Pend Oreille County map or DeLorme Atlas recommended): Drive north on Highway 2 through Newport to Oldtown.

Turn left onto LeClerc Creek Road and follow the east shore of Pend Oreille River, where swans and other waterfowl may be seen. Cross the Bridge over the river to Usk (cormorants congregate here).

Head southwest, crossing Highway 2. Follow Bennett and McKinzie Roads to Westside Calispell Road and prime Calispell Lake viewing areas.

Return to Usk and follow Flowery Trail Road west over divide, passing 49 Degrees North Ski Area, to Chewelah.

Drive south on Highway 395. Before heading up the big hill, turn east on Hafer Road, then north on Cottonwood Creek Road to pass another prime viewing area.

Return to Highway 395, and head west on Newton Road to another area where swans may congregate.

Return to Spokane via Highway 395.

Optional side trip: From Chewelah, go north to Colville. Head west on Oakshot Road then north on Valley Westside Road to possible swan resting area.

Attractions: Assuming a normal runoff that floods lowland fields, hundreds of migrating tundra swans rest in Colville and Pend Oreille River valleys. Migration through this area typically peaks in last two weeks of March. In some years, lingering ice can delay migration. Counts of 600 swans are not uncommon in Colville Valley.

Comments: When conditions are right, many other varieties of waterfowl are lured to these valleys, including Canada geese, pintails and other ducks.

Calispell Lake, to which there is no public access, can be noisy with swans. LeClerc Creek Road near Indian Islands is good viewing area for bald eagles.

Tundra swans are smaller than the endangered trumpeter swans. While not listed as threatened or endangered, tundra swans are vulnerable to increased development of wetlands.

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