Monday, December 21, 2009

Bigork and Ninepipes Christmas Bird Counts!

Saturday was the Bigfork CBC, and this year, due to a low turnout I was in charge of my own section of the count circle!!! This year was the first year I have a drivers license, so basically the first year I even could do my own area.

The mother of my lovely girlfriend, and great family friend, Rikki Perkins came with me to survey my section. Thank you to Rikki for tallying up the birds through out the day.

To me totally honest, the day was slow.... quite slow. We had a almost wholly forested area, and only had 27 species, with 272 individual birds. Our best bird was one WHITE-WINGED CROSSBILL, the only one for the whole count, and a flock of about 50 COMMON REDPOLLS!!! This, to me, was the best part of the day, with a YELLOW-shafted Flicker!!!! What a great bird! Not a separate species, but a cool, and sporadic bird in western MT. The most numerous bird was Wild Turkey with 53.

I thought this was cool, my black lab is named Blackie, so this was quite cool. Down this little side road was where we got our first CHESTNUT-BACKED CHICKADEES.

Birds weren't the only wildlife around. We saw a few White-tailed Deer walking through the woods. A foggy, rainy, slow day, but with some good birds.
Sunday was the Ninepipes Christmas Bird Count. Ninepipes NWR is a FANTASTIC spot for birds in the winter, or any season. Every time I visit this area, I see more great birds! It is a mix of agricultural farmlands and pothole prairie grassland riddled with the pothole ponds.
Last year I got my lifer RUSTY BLACKBIRD down here, but we didn't turn out any lifers this year. I thank Dan Casey for having me come along and help with his area if the count.
Again, today was raining constantly throughout the day, and with spotty fog all over. It made for an interesting and quite fun day. This count was a MILLION times faster paced then the count before. So many birds, and so much birding. I love this count.
We walked a few shelterbelts, and I got this shot at the second belt we walked. I call it "Watcher in the Mist"

These are a few shots of the area we birded in the morning. a view of one of the shelterbelts we walked..... Me looking for Snow Buntings in between belts..... A few of the Mission Mountains from the Mission Valley (ninepipes and surrounding area).

In the belts, we had a few GREAT HORNED OWLS, AMERICAN ROBINS, and one LONG-EARED OWL. The only Long-eared we had.
One of the cool things, was we had 5 "HARLAN'S" Red-tailed Hawks. There was a whole article on them in the January 2009 issue of Birding Magazine. I got a few pictures of 2 birds, but only these of one individual were good enough to publicize.

The tail pattern is similar to Figure 3 in the article, but has more distinct banding looking like maybe a bleached Figure 9.
Also we saw 14, count it 14 Great Horned Owls! That is the most I have seen in one day ever!!

Along Post Creek, a very birdy area, (many rare birds have been discovered there) we had a few birds, not any rarities or odd bird species, but we did have a YELLOW-shafted Flicker!! Dan got to observe the black whisker mark and all! That makes one for each day! Also, we had a MARSH WREN, a good bird for winter.

Dan Casey looking at 2 NORTHERN HARRIERS and a field full of Ring-necked Pheasants. We had almost 200 pheasants that day and like 79 Black-billed Magpies. A good day of birding, and fun at that!

1 comment:

  1. is that spot where the 200 pheasants are public land? Like to hunt? Just curious..