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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

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Birder gets big New Year start on 2016 list

Bohemian waxwing eats dwarf crab apple during winter. (Libby Schreiner)
Bohemian waxwing eats dwarf crab apple during winter. (Libby Schreiner)

WILDLIFE WATCHING -- Some locals brought in the New Year by snowshoeing, others by braving the frigid Spokane River waters on catarafts.  But Tim O'Brien of Cheney continued his tradition of a Jan. 1 birding tour to see how many species he could find.

Here's his report:

My tradition for Jan. 1 is to go all out looking for birds in Spokane county.  The theme of today was COLD!  My car thermometer registered some negative values this morning and I think it topped out at 22 degrees F somewhere in downtown Spokane.  My personal record for this day is 62 species and here I sit at home with 5.5 hours to go at 61 species.  Here are the highlights:

Morning owling along Madison and Holcomb Roads (Mount Spokane foothills) - was able to get one Western Screech-Owl and one Northern Saw-whet Owl to talk back at me.  The eerie part was not a single Great Horned Owl was to be heard - usually they are very active in this area.

Mount Spokane - left the house without snowshoes so I stayed on the roads.  Two Ruffed Grouse at daylight just before the ski lift.  At the condos, had one Common Redpoll get pished off at me for pishing it while it flew over.

Peone Prairie - Big flock of Red-winged Blackbirds and about 20 Common Redpolls at the same location next to old sunflower fields.

Bohemians - Two different flocks today - one near Wandemere and the other at the St. George's take out site.

Indian Painted Rocks - Bewick's Wren, Canyon Wren, and a hardy Ruby-crowned Kinglet!  Definitely needed my snowshoes here as the snow prevented me from ascending up into woodpecker-ville.

Confluence of the Spokane Rivers - I walked just ten feet out the fishing dock and flushed a Virginia Rail out from under the dock!  Odd spot for it to be!

Riverfront Park - could only find one American Dipper at the falls.

Fairgrounds Pond - thank you Norma for telling us about this hidden gem!  Redhead, Canvasback, and Lesser Scaup!

West Plains - Gray Partridge along Coulee Hite Road (north side).

I waited for Short-eared Owls, but let the cold get the best of me so I left.  Glad to see Joshua Little found one today!

I drove about 140 miles today and walked some, too!  A nice way to start the year!

Rich Landers
Rich Landers joined The Spokesman-Review in 1977. He is the Outdoors editor for the Sports Department writing and photographing stories about hiking, hunting, fishing, boating, conservation, nature and wildlife and related topics.

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