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Originally published Thursday, October 8, 2009 at 12:09 AM

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Birders' Top Spots

Head up high to see migrating raptors at Red Top Mt.

Red Top Mountain in Kittitas County offers prime viewing of raptor migrations.

Red Top Mountain, Site 7 from "Sun & Sage Loop" of Audubon Washington's Great Washington State Birding Trail.

Location: Off Highway 97 southwest of Blewett Pass, Kittitas County

Habitat: National Forest mountaintop with high-elevation hemlocks, firs.

Best seasons for birding: Summer and fall.

Birds commonly seen: Now is a good time to catch migration of Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks, goshawks, American kestrels, merlins, peregrine and prairie falcons, plus bald and golden eagles. Perhaps spot sooty grouse but count on flocks of northern flickers and troops of "camp robber" gray jays.

Viewing: Hawk watching best 10 a.m.-3 p.m.; set up scope at lookout. Check for flammulated owls at night in forest. Bonus: elk in meadows.

Getting there: From Highway 97 at Milepost 156.4, turn west on Forest Service Road 9738. Drive 2.6 miles. Turn left onto Forest Road 9702. Drive 4.2 miles. Turn right. Drive 0.3 mile. Park. Hike half-mile trail to Forest Service lookout. Caution: Rough road.

Source: Audubon Washington, Great Washington State Birding Trail maps. To order maps, see the Web site Details, call 866-922-4737.

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