Monday, August 31, 2009

First day of the HAWKWATCH

September and much of October is hawkwatching season here int the Flathead. Dan and Susannah Casey found this site in 2007, and in 2008 we started to extensively watching the site, and counting hawks. August 30th this year was the first day data from the site was collected. I think in all we got like 30 birds, and most where Cooper's Hawks. A few Golden Eagles, Sharp-shinned Hawks, Red-taileds, and a Harrier made up the rest.

Last year I came up 8 or so times, and was up for the biggest day last year, 163 birds in a day. That was fantastic!!! I have been looking forward to the hawkwatch since the last time I was up last year. Now I just need to get back up there again!

View from half way up the trail to the ridge or so. Nice to look out over the valley floor.
On the way up, we ran into several Dusky Grouse, including this young bird
View from atop the ridge, now just a quarter mile walk along the ridge top to the left to reach the site
At the site, there were 3 more Dusky Grouse, and they posed nicely, and I managed to get a few nice shots.

View looking north, the direction you should look to spot hawks comming down the ridge.
Again, like in Logan Pass, there was a Golden-mantled Ground-Squirrel running around the site.

Common Raven
Looking back southwest along the ridge we came.

Birding lacking on the birds, but large on the mammals. . . .

Honestly it has been so long since this trip, I can't remember exactly when it was, but my family and I went up to Logan Pass, in Glasier National Park, which is only 30 minutes or so from my house by car. I was hoping to see some good birds, and I did get to see a few American Pipits, White-crowned Sparrows, and 2 Gray-crowned Rosefinches. The most common lifeform at Logan Pass continues to be mammailian.
Family of Mountain Goats are onmipresent, and very tame.

Columbian Ground-Squirrel; very common around Flathead Valley, and in the high alpine areas the rim the valley.

View from the top of the Logan Pass boardwalk/trail. . . . . gorgeous, eh?

45 degree turn to the right form the last picture.
Next three shots are of my 2 favorite rodent alive in MT. The first I have only seen once, and coinsidentaly, I saw it at the same place. My first favorite rodent is the Pika, my second is this litttle cutie, the Golden-mantled Ground-Squirrel.

One big billy Mountain Goat
In the visitor center, I got a lifer! White-tailed Ptarmigan!!! To bad it was taxidermied.
On our way home, on the east side of the park, we came across this chocolate- Black Bear!! Woo hoo!!!

The end!!

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Back in the Big Sky Country

Being back in Montana is bittersweet, as I had to say good bye to the wonders of the Eastern Seaboard, but in return I get to see familiar faces, and birds.

My first serious birding outing wasn't much but my next two where seriously amazing.

Dan Casey and I scouted around for shorebird stops for the nest days local Audubon fieldtrip he is leading. August is shorebird time in Montana, and we hoped to see at least 15 species scouting.
First stop was the landfill, or Flathead Gullery, not for shorebirds obviously but just to see was gulls we could find. There weren't many.

Next stop was a couple of ponds in the "west valley" portion of the Flathead Valley. Not many shorebirds, but a few Least Sandpipers, and a few Baird's Sandpipers. We did find about 75 Sandhill Cranes in the plowed fields.

On our way to the "Lower Valley" I saw a driveway in the west valley lined with MANY Thistles and with many birds eating the thistles. The birds there were mostly Yellow-headed Blackbirds, but we did have one Lincoln's Sparrow and 3 Rufous Hummingbirds.

Also, now is the time the "berry"ing bushes should start to be gathering some major attention from the migrant songbirds. Along this one Chokecherry hedge in the lower valley we had both Chipping and Clay-colored Sparrows, Gray Catbird, MacGillivray's and Yellow Warbler. Not many, but its a start. As we were looking at these birds, I noticed a large, black storm-petrel sized bird in the sky. OH MIGOSH! AHH A SWACK BLIFT........ a BLACK SWIFT!!!! Turns out there was at least 5 birds! WOO HOO!! first yearbird of the day! These birds gave a great show!

At Split pond there weren't many shorebirds, only new ones were a few Long-billed Dowitchers, Red-necked Phalaropes and a pair of Pectoral Sandpipers

Goose meadows pond had a few more birds. A group of Least's, Semipalmated and Baird's Sandpipers, as well as one Semipalmated Plover. Also got my first-of-year Western Sandpiper there.

The park-n-Ride near Somers had the greatest number of birds. This area has two separate ponds, but one has dried up in the center to make 3 ponds.

Least Sandpiper

Semipalmated Plover

Greater Yellowlegs
Lesser Yellowlegs

Wilson's Snipe

To view one area of the ponds, it requires a little stroll on a bike path through some really nice songbird habitat.
Spotted Towhee, Western Tanager, Black-headed Grosbeak, Willow Flycatcher, and Bullock's Oriole were the good songbirds seen.

Dan lead the shorebird field trip, and we saw some good birds.
We didn't do any of the west valley, just the lower valley.

We started at the Park-n-Ride, and saw all the same, but missed Snipe and Stilt Sandpiper.

At the berry shrub covered area, we ran into a small flock of moving migrants.
Yellow, Orange-crowned, Townsend's and Wilson's Warbler were the main birds we got to see. Western Tanager, Western Wood-Pewee, Willow Flycatcher, and Calliope Hummingbird were the other highlights.

Shorebirds still the same, if not a little lesser from the day before, but the other birds put on a show. At Splitpond there were as many as 10 Eurasian Collared-Doves in the nearby trees, and a juvenile Sora made a brief but leisurely appearance.

At Willey Dike, another pond worth checking, we had a pair of Wood Ducks, and believe it or not, a LEWIS'S WOODPECKER!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! WWOOOWW!!!! That was my first Lewis's Woodpecker in years!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! OHMIGOSH! It posed for wonderful looks in the scope atop a dead limb of a tree.

So all in all, a wonderful trip. great looks at great birds, shorebird or no.

I am hoping to make a road trip to Elliston for the well photographed BAND-TAILED PIGEON!!!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Wednesday and Thursday report


Got up early and headed to Hampton Harbor to look for the reported Little Gull, Black-headed Gull, Sabine's Gull, and Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. It was just after high tide so there was no birds in the harbor. We went across the bridge to Hampton Beach State Park, and found hundreds of gulls roosting in the parking lot and lawn. A couple Bonaparte's Gulls gave me a scare, looking like a Black-headed and Little Gull, but all ended up being Bonie's.

After the water level dropped some, we checked the harbor once more, and the shorebirds have arrived. There were 2 Black-bellied Plovers, and a few Ruddy Turnstones, and one Sanderling!! The Sanderling was a yearbird, and a cool bird all around.


My aunt Penny and I signed up for the Granite State Whalewatching trip in the morning, and were very intrigued by the weather. It was warm, but extremely foggy, and cloudy with spots of rain. It was one of those mornings you wake up and go outside and the air is heavy with the sense of rare birds. You can just tell that the weather has brought in something odd, but you don't know where or when it will show up.

After we got on the boat and made our way out the harbor, an Arctic Tern passed by; a great yearbird.

The first shearwater (and actually second and third) I saw was a Cory's Shearwater, which I thought was odd. I counted about 9 or 10 throughout the day. On the way to the whale feeding grounds, I saw a few groups of Jaegers off in the distance, to far to ID, but counted at least 12 or 13.

In the whale/bird feeding grounds, we saw Sooty and Greater Shearwaters but in less numbers then Tuesday. The Wilson's Storm-Petrels like tripled in number though. All in all, I would guess over 1,200 birds!! In the mass, I noticed a storm-petrel that flew more like a nighthawk, or tern. Now that was a dead giveaway before looking at fieldmarks.... LEACH'S STORM-PETREL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It was close to the boat, but made its way farther out in a matter of minutes. That was the first lifer of the day, and one of the few "odd" birds that showed up. The others so far were the numbers of Jaegers.

I was on one side of the boat, and one of the crew over the intercom said "For all of you birders, there is a Northen Fulmar at 11 o'clock". I was over there before she finished the sentence!! A NORTHERN FULMAR!!! It was a little distant, but was swimming towards the boat!! It came within 40 yards if the boat!! That was amazing!!!

That was about the highlight of the trip, those two lifers. From there, it was more of the usual which was always amazing, as just 2 days before, they were lifers, and who knows when I will see those birds again.

Wednesday and Thursday photos from New Hampshire!


Here is a series of shots of the several Bonaparte's Gulls that were roosting in the parking area of the state park.

This is two of the many Great Black-backed Gulls in the parking lot.

I was lucky enough to be able to go on a second whale watching trip with Granite State Whalewatching. The weather in the morning was eerie. You know that feeling of rare or odd birds showing up. That feel, that essence in the air of odd birds, when you step outside and know something good was going to be found. That morning was one of those mornings.
Great Black-backed Gull

We came across many, many "rafts" of Wilson's S-P roosting on the water, and this one time, they were all feeding.
Cory's Shearwater
Northern Gannet

Fin Whales

Greater Shearwater
Humpback Whales. The whale at right is a female named Quote for the white scaring on her dorsal fin area.
One of two of the odd birds that showed up!!!!! NORTHERN FULMAR!!! Woohoo!!! The Leach's Storm-Petrel didn't pose for a photo, barely got close looks at it!
Common Tern
Herring Gull in Rye Harbor.
The next two photos are of a young Great Black-backed Gull in Maine that just sat there, letting me get an up-close and personal shot.