Tuesday, December 29, 2009

A full day of birding Flathead Valley

I was getting tired of the usual route I have taken the last few times I went out birding, so this time I changed it up a bit, and staying out in the field for almost 7 hours! I planned a route that would have all the brushy, riparian stuffs and still have large amounts of field to maximize the possibility of Snow Buntings and such.

I went south from my house, wandering through the agricultural fields, and seeing almost nothing. I did, however, find a Harlan's and a normal Red-tailed Hawk, many Common Ravens and a Bald Eagle.

The birds didn't start to pick up until I was almost in Evergreen, a "growth" off of the much larger Kalispell. I had a Belted Kingfisher over the Flathead River, and even another Harlan's Hawk along the river. I worked my way to the Treasure Lane access to Owen Sowerwine Natural Area, a huge tract of land along the Flathead River inside Kalispell. A great area for birds, Dan Casey and I even had a Rose-breasted Grosbeak there in the summer of 08'.

There definitely is a lot of Chickadees there, like lots.
After the Ninepipes and Bigfork CBC, with a Yellow-shafted Flicker each, I have become a little paranoid about Northern Flickers. I stopped for almost all of them today, seeing if they were yellows or not. Owen Sowerwine had lots of flickers, even a Pileated Woodpecker and a Brown Creeper. As I hiked along the trail, deeper into the Natural Area, more and more Bohemian Waxwings kept flying over me coming from one area.

Maybe 300 waxwings were feeding on all the highbush Cranberry and Mountain Ash deep in the woods and groups were leaving, many many at a time. Also, with the waxwings, were 3 American Robins! Pretty good birds for the dead of winter!
At this one persons' birdfeeders near the OSNA access, was about 15 Mourning Doves, and a bunch of House Finches. As I watched, a freakishly fast bird zipped in and spooked all the birds. It was light colored Merlin! That is always cool to see. The explosion of birds had revealed a single American Goldfinch. The only one for the day!
Next, I walked this trail near Woodland Park, and here I hoped to find a Song Sparrow but after a decent walk, I came up empty for Song Sparrow. I did manage to get 2 Blue Jays, and one Dark-eyed Junco. The only sparrow of the whole day (House Sparrows aren't sparrows).
I depart Kalispell and drive south-ish to the lower valley. I eat lunch, 3 different kinds of sandwiches, and find a nice flock of PERCHED Bohemian and Cedar Waxwings. Now, the lighting was terrible, but I got to really test out the Nikon Coolpix 990 and digiscope the birds.

At this little spot I also got a Downy Woodpecker.
Farther down the road, I found more Harlan's Hawks, and more Rough-legged Hawks.
This is about the best shot I have so far of Harlan's.

After missing Snow Buntings in the lower valley, I tried to pick up a few more species in Somers Bay of Flathead Lake..... That didn't as well as I thought. Only a mess of Common Goldeneyes.
I drove through the north end of Somers looking for the day's Eurasian Collared-Doves to no avail. Not even a House Sparrow.
(I am running out of transition words) I drove home through the Ag Fields south of Hwy 35 which is south of my house. Here, I got on of the cooliest birds I know of; NORTHERN SHRIKE!!! Also, more hawks.... a few Rough-leggeds and a Harlan's.
I love driving up really slowly, with my camera out my window, and coming to a stop right under the power pole the hawk is perched, and snapping away, then it flies!!!
Along this weird, wet swampy roadside ditch 5 feet wide, I had another Belted Kingfisher. I was hoping to find a snipe here......it looked really snipey.
Finally, driving past another large house in the middle of nowhere, I spot maybe 4 Eurasian Collared-Doves!!! They totaled about 6 maybe 7 somewhere in the spruce tree. I managed to get a very.... edited digiscoped shot of one bird.

Totalled 33 species for today's efforts, with good ones such as Belted Kingfisher, Pileated Woodpecker, Merlin, Eurasian Collared Dove, Northern Shrike and Red-winged Blackbird.

5 Harlan's Hawks and 3 normal Red-tailed Hawks....... that is more Harlan's to "normys" then I have ever seen.

Friday, December 25, 2009

One full year with my Canon 10D SLR!!!

This is a random, and maybe slightly repetative collection of my best, coolest, and clearest shots of birds I have taken in the first year of owning my Canon 10D camera. Some are great shots for artistic value, or best of that species. ENJOY!!!