Monday, January 26, 2009

The sun came up, and brought with it birds of the north - PART 2

Today, my mom ans I took advantage of the amazing sunshine, and ventured into town (Columbia Falls) to photograph Pine Grosbeaks and Bohemian Waxwings, and we found quite a few American Robins too. It is always great to view these birds in the blaring sun!!

The sun came up, and brought with it birds of the north

Sunday, the sun desided to show its self here in Columbia Falls, and the birds are here in large numbers. My dad and I chase Pine Grosbeaks and Waxwings all over town. We saw many hundreds, even a few thousand waxwings, and almots a hundred grosbeaks. We even saw a couple hundred Bohemain Waxwings frenzying in the middle of the road, gobbling up little rocks and snow. It was amazing!!

Saturday, January 24, 2009

More on Pine Grosbeaks!!!!

Today I got some great looks at a fairly large flock of Pine Grosbeaks right in Columbia Falls today around 11:30am mountain time. It was pretty cool, even though they are everywhere!! I can't EVER get enough of those birds. They are my favorite winter finch by far. I don't know how I'll cope with them gone in the following years, if they leave. Also, I saw a Merlin in Kalispell, chaseing the masses of Bohemian Waxwings.

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Birds, birds, birds, BIRDS!!!

Well, where do I start!?!? It was a great day!! First Pete Smith (a good birding friend of mine) picked me up at about 10:00-ish. We stopped by a little bog-like thing, where Northern Saw-whet Owls breed. We stepped out, and had almost no birds of any kind at all!!!! Then, BLAMMERS!!! We saw a large flock of little white-ish birds frenzying around a birch tree. REDPOLLS!!! Woo hoo!! We blared up the road and wow!! About 80 redpolls were freaking out on this birch tree. I grabbed the scope, and for some reason, I started searching for a Hoary Redpoll candidate. Scanning, Pete and I, found a few good candidates, and one concrete for sure Hoary Redpoll. LIFER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
After that amazing encounter, we went into town, and wandered Columbia Falls, looking for Pine Grosbeaks, and waxwings. We, of course, saw TONS of birds!! Over the course of the day, we tally about 65 PINE GROSBEAKS!! That is the most I have seen at one time, then all the birds I have seen in my entire life combined!!!! I have seen many since Monday, but not 65 in one day!!

Then we went to check out the local Gullery, or called Flathead County Landfill. Upon arriving, there was only 20+ gulls, and soon after we got there, they left us. In the flock was one juvenile Thayer's Gull, among the Herring and Ring-billed Gulls.

(* SPECIAL NOTE - If anyone wants to visit the gullery, please park on the same level as the active dumping, and no where else, but park out of the way of the machines!! THANK YOU!!!*)

Juvenile Thayer's Gull
After the run at the dump, we went back to Pete Smith's house to photograph Chestnut-backed Chickadees. It was great!! There was a total of 4 birds coming to his feeder continuously. They put on quite a show!!

Sunday, January 18, 2009

A 'round the lake Trip

Yesterday, the 16th, Dan Casey as I tried for a mini Big Day around the Flathead Valley. We started up at my house, and worked down through the open-country, looking for more species. We stopped at a few feed lots, where there were many hungry cows, and many more blackbirds, of various species. Out of the hundreds of Red-winged Blackbirds, we found quite a few Brewer's Blackbirds, which was a new year bird! #61. A little bit later (or before?) we ran across a flock of Snow Buntings, #62 that gave distant, fleeting looks, before they disappeared. Our next target bird was Chestnut-backed Chickadee, which is a semi-rare bird in the valley, unless you know where to go. We found about 4 or 5 birds, that gave us great viewing opportunities, but the light wasn't the best for photos

Just after that, we ran into a flock of Pine Grosbeaks, and Bohemian Waxwings, and the grosbeaks let us get AMAZINGLY close!

We birded all the way around Flathead Lake, finding some really good birds too, like Red-breasted merganser, and Long-eared Owl. It was turning out to be an amazing day, but what really made it super-amazing was back up near Somers, we found a large flock of Bohemian ans Cedar Waxwings, with several Pine Grosbeaks, and an American Robin. We were so close to the waxwings, it was FANTANSTIC! Too bad it wasn't sunny, or all my 200+ pictures wouldn't have been so dang dark!!! My best shots are very dark (The second photo is the "best", but also really dark)

It was a great day, and I added 16 or so (17??) new year birds to me year list, which is now at 76 (77?)

Saturday, January 10, 2009

A very Pine Grosbeak day!

My sister ( I took this WHILE riding my bike!!)

Today, my sister and I want to do some biking, and for me, that means Bigby birds! We biked south, along Middle Rd, and saw one Black-billed Magpie, and a Rough-legged Hawk. The hawk was new for my list, at #22. It was almost a horrible day for biking with the clouds and stong headwind, untill we spotted some gray birds in a Crab Apple Tree (right?). At first glance, which was still at a considerable distance, I called the birds Bohemian Waxwings, be upone riding closer (slowly) I saw one with rosy-red, not orangy-rust. PINE GROSBEAKS!!!! I yelled it in my head, fearing the birds would fly. My heart was pounding intensly, and was trying with all my might to stay calm and quiet, fearing the birds would fly. I first saw a few females, then notice the male, which lead be to Grosbeak, not Waxwing on the ID. The female sat atop a branch and posed, but was outdone by the showy male. It was as if he knew he was gorgeous and was showing off is plumage for the camera, will hiding it under the tast of feasting on the plentiful fruits. This was by far the best views I have ever had of Pine Grosbeaks; they were just 7 feet away!!

After that showstopper, the next two new Bigby birds were the aniclimax of the day, but still great! I saw and heard a couple CEDAR Waxwings in the flock of Bohemians we later saw (yes, saw....not grosbeaks!). Near home, we flushed a few Ring-necked Pheasants, and that was Bigby bird #24.