Before the rains returned, I squeezed in a nice 7.5 mile hike along the Lost Lake Trail to the Dale Clemen’s Memorial Cabin and back down the winter access trail. I enjoyed the combination of botany and birding as flowers were plentiful and birds scarce so there was always something to enjoy.
A nice surprise was a PACIFIC WREN singing in the coastal rainforest not far from the trailhead. TOWNSEND’S WARBLERS twittered along the trail hidden in the spruce boughs, and WILSON’S WARBLER males chipped nervously, flying back and forth, supervising their fledglings.
Leaving the conifers and entering the alder/willow zone, a FOX SPARROW popped up, then a GOLDEN-CROWNED SPARROW, checking me out before returning to their youngsters. A large swath of alders is dead, wiped out by the geometrid moth infestation a few years ago. Fortunately, many survived. The salmonberries and blueberries are making a welcome and delicious comeback as well. A PINE GROSBEAK posed on a silvery dead tree and sang, joined momentarily by a second grosbeak.
Once on the Clemen’s Access Trail, I only caught glimpses of sparrows flitting through the wildflower meadows. The wildflowers, green, brown, white, yellow, cream, blue, pink, lavender, purple, magenta, and red, dotted the rolling subalpine meadows. Glaciers gleamed from their mountain cradles, blanketed by dark clouds. It reminded me of the Sound of Music without the blue sky.
Once back in the Mt Hemlock and spruce groves, I heard the high chipping of the TOWNSEND’S WARBLER fledglings and saw a busy mom. At one of the small lakes, I spotted a napping female or juvenile GOLDENEYE, head tucked in. I was hoping for a Gray Jay, especially by the cabin at 1750’, but did not find one this time.
Descending through the Mt Hemlock forest, I found a hemlock drilled to perfection and within an inch of its life by a Red-breasted Sapsucker. I didn’t see it or any woodpeckers. As the rain pattered on the ferns and bunchberries, the peaceful melody of a HERMIT THRUSH floated through the quiet forest. All in all, a very rewarding hike surrounded by spectacular scenery.
Seward Sporadic Bird Report Reporter