Monday, March 15, 2010

Very Full Weekend of Birding

Spring is essentially here in the Flathead Valley!!

The American Robins have arrived in full force lately, and I had a chance to get a shot of on before work.

SATURDAY: The Flathead Audubon was holding an all day trip to the Mission Valley, and I tagged along for the adventure...more like co-lead the trip!

Before I meant with the fellow trip-folk, I check Chruch Slough and saw several Eurasian Wigeon, and many REDHEADS (yearbird #1 for the day). Dan Casey had a Snow Goose down here, so that was my main target before embarking to the Mission Valley. I did not get it at Church Slough but rather just south of there in the fields with Canada's.

SNOW GOOSE - yearbird #2

We meet, then left for the Mission. On the way down, we saw a single CLARK'S NUTCRACKER (#3) fly in front of us, and a Northern Shrike on a wire

The going was slow once we got down there. Plenty of Red-tailed Hawks and Rough-legged Hawks around, along with Great Horned Owls, and various waterfowl species.

We have been seeing these birds, but nothing really "springy" or small like a Bluebird or Meadowlark or anything! I was looking forward to the small birds that you just randomly run across...that is what makes birding really fun! Finally, though, we did find some small interesting birds


Cool bird.... we found a pair of them and they were singing. Neat stuff!

It was weird, I was kinda in a haze for the beginning of the trip, but after those Meadowlarks it was like I woke up and loosened up. The birds and overall feel of the day increased and the sun even came out!!!!

Noticing my almost total lack of bird photos for the day, I decided I must take shots of the group to sort of "spruce up" this blog post.

This is our vehicle, with its inhabitants pointing and poseing just for my blog!

Also, you can tell if my blog post is lacking with bird shots by a photo of my scope

In some of the pothole marshes in the Mission Valley we had a smattering of CANVASBACKS (yearbird #5)

Like I said there was a lot of Great Horned Owls seen on this trip and this one was about the

only one that was photographable.

So, for the final chapter in this days' story:

The sun was getting low, we went to a certain road where Short-eared Owls were to be semi-regular. We waited and waited, and while waiting some more, a flock of about 30 Snow Geese flew over us!!

So as some of our group left, they spotted a SHORT-EARED OWL! (#6) we quickly ran down and found in total about 4 owls! What a show! One even displayed somewhat!

^a view of the Mission Mountains^

I ended the day with 6 new yearbirds, bringing me to 83 for the year!

SUNDAY: After church, I decided to look for some first-of-the-year bluebirds

I checked the area around my place, and around Creston.....nothin'
The usual birds were around, Montford Rd pond was still frozen.
At Church Slough, things picked up. I saw at least 5 male Eurasian Wigeon!!!! They are such cool looking birds.
I did see a Tundra Swan with a neck collar reading U511. Cool stuff!
I ended the weekend with 83 species for the year...a good start

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Assembling the Masses

This is a look at Church Slough. Maybe the best spring waterfowl hotspot in the whole county! That is a big area by the way, not like all the small counties in California or something. You can actually fit the WHOLE state of Rhode Island in the Columbia Falls School District.

Wow, getting off topic. Well, I was saying Church Slough is a great hotspot for spring waterfowl. At this point it is still mostly frozen, but when the ice continues to melt.... much more will happen.

I started the day (Saturday the 6th) driving to Dan Casey's house in Somers. We looked over the waterfowl on the north shore of Flathead Lake and right off I got several year birds!

Trumpeter Swan
Red-breasted Merganser
Northern Pintail
Barrow's Goldeneye
Eurasian Wigeon
Lesser Scaup

Suprisingly, there was a large flock of almost 12 Red-breasted Mergansers on the lake! That is actually quite interesting. Almost more so then the Eurasian Wigeon! We get small numbers of them every March, as well as Cackling Geese. My first wave of migrant waterfowl as been spotted!

Next we went to Church Slough, and as mentioned above, was still very icy. There was, however, a variaty of birds to be seen.

Northern Harrier
American Wigeon
Greater Scaup

-made up the yearbirds, but the most interesting to me and Dan was an adult THAYER'S GULL. I have only seen these at the landfill, but this bird was flying around the frozen slough!

My scope looking over the birds at Church Slough

A pair of the many Canada Geese in the area!
This Red-winged Blackbird was at splitpond, on the way to Church Slough
After saying good-day to Dan at Church Slough, I went and wondered up around Creston, and didn't have any luck with Swallows or Bluebirds...can't say I was expecting them though, they are still a few days out.
I did get a shot of this nice male SONG SPARROW singing on territory.
Just a few Canada Geese on a pond off of Montford Road
Next was the county landfill just to see what gulls were in the area.
I got this shot of a COMMON RAVEN siting on the edge of the mud-ridge.
All that was about was MANY many California Gulls, and a handful of Herring Gulls... not even any Ring-billeds!

Updates since Saturday:

March 10th - Besides it being Andrew Guttenberg's birthday, I got another yearbird this morning on my way to school! I got great looks at a female VARIED THRUSH!!!!! What a pretty bird!!!

up-coming: Saturday, the 13th I am co-leading a trip to the Mission Valley! That should be a mega bird-filled trip! Many new and exciting things!

up-coming: Saturday-Sunday, March 27-28 - FREEZOUT LAKE! The huge mass of white geese (Snow and Ross's Geese) will be substantial, and so will the other waterfowl and field birds! Amazing trip! Watch for my post!

So, as of now, I am at 77 for the year - 10 from Saturday and then the Varied Thrush today