Friday, January 13, 2017

New Years Birding - 2017!!

New Years Day! It's a magical day where the birding clock resets, and old becomes new!  Every bird is new again.  Excitedly, we rush around noting the chickadees, woodpeckers, waterfowl and sparrows as they are the first, the first of the year!

     This year, the Kalispell Christmas Bird Count fell on the 1st of the year! I meet with Denny Olson and Gail Bissel and we conducted the count in our section of the count circle. Our area is generally a good one, including a spring creek with waterfowl, a section of town with feeders and fruiting trees, and some natural river bottoms for many other species!

     This winter was been colder and snowier than the last several.  With that, the American Robins have infiltrated the town and are abundant anywhere there are berries to be eaten!  We arrived at the Treasure Lane access point to the Owen Sowerwine Natural Area (an IBA) in Kalispell. Here, we stumbled upon dozens of robins! As we got out of the car, I counted the robins and neared 40 birds! 

     Looking over the robins, a small brown blob in the foreground caught my attention. just 10 yards in front of me was a perched Northern Saw-whet Owl!!!

Northern Saw-whet Owl
     We gawked over this bird for a minute or two before it flew deeper into the thickets. What a great bird to add to the Christmas Bird Count! Turns out, this was only the second time this species has been seen on the count.

     We continued to bird our section, finding some good birds like White-breasted Nuthatch, Merlin, Pileated Woodpecker, and Townsend's Solitare.

     The intersection of 6th and 6th East in Kalispell is a good spot for finding birds, as the many Mountain Ash trees attract berry-eaters. We had over 40 American Robins there as well as several Cedar Waxwings

American Robin

American Robin

Cedar Waxwing
     I ended the Christmas Bird Count with 37 species, and just enough daylight for a quick run to see my resident Harris's Sparrow in the west valley.
American Tree Sparrow - #38
Harris's Sparrow - #39
Now I just needed one more bird to have an even 40 species for the 1st of the year. Just then, a Rough-legged Hawk flew over me as I was departing the sparrow spot! #40!

     The Harris's didn't offer a chance for photos, but I did get an American Tree Sparrow and one of the many Song Sparrows there, this one with some white feathers on its forehead! 

American Tree Sparrow

'whitehead' the Song Sparrow!

A good day of birding, and a great start to the New Year!