A (mostly) friendly competition between 2 avid birdwatchers that are also friends/co-workers. Who can observe more bird species in Idaho in 2009? Will they still be friends at year's end? ;-)

Sunday, March 8, 2009

Fort Boise WMA and more!

Jay and Heidi joined the Golden Eagle Audubon Society for a fun field trip out to the Fort Boise WMA this Saturday! We were just askin’ for trouble, with a car full that included Sue Norton, Mike Morrison and Gary Robinson ;)

"Team" shot (where's Jay?;-)

Our first stop was a road in the WMA where we were able to see the huge flocks of Snow and Greater White-Fronted Geese (with a few Ross' Geese mixed in) flying over and landing in the nearby ponds. (Claire, who works at the WMA and lead us through the area, said there were about 50,000 Snow Geese in the flocks this year!) We stayed there for a few hours to see the geese and other waterfowl as well as a few Bald Eagles, Northern Harriers and also 5 Red-tailed Hawks circling overhead that gave us quite a show! We also got to hear plenty of Virginia Rails, Marsh Wrens, and Song Sparrows.

GEAS members stand on the road to admire the huge flock of (mostly) Snow Geese!

(don't worry, only a few birders were hit by passing vehicles :)

After visiting the geese, Claire led us on a special tour of the WMA where we saw plenty of birds, including a cute Song Sparrow couple (that little guy was obviously 'twitterpated'!), chickadees, RC Kinglets, and a Golden Eagle. We also got to see a very patient Great-Horned Owl sitting on her nest. Everyone got a great view through a couple scopes they set up

Field trippers line up to view the owl

After a fun time in the WMA it was time for lunch, and our car-load of birders headed off for parts unknown (aka New Plymouth) to search out a Harris' Sparrow that had been reported in the area. After less than a minute in front of the house, we spotted him!! Not only was he a totally sweet bird but he was my 200th LIFER!! woohoo! *now imagine Heidi's "200th lifer happy-pants dance"...which is not at all like RL's "awesome gull happy-pants dance" *It was cool for Jay too, who's only seen 3 in Idaho. Here (and other areas throughout the day) we saw some Sandhill Cranes fly over-another cool year bird!

Sue, Mike, Gary and Heidi checking out the Harris' Sparrow (Sue is showing off her amazing talent of hiding in every one of these photos!--those are her feet at the end--you'd think she didn't want to be seen with us or something :)

Just down the road for the Harris' house, we visited the scenic New Plymouth sewage ponds. There were tons of Snow and Greater White-fronted geese there too, as well as birds like ring-necked duck, lesser scaup, pintails, and through the scopes we were able to spot a Cinnamon Teal! It was another Lifer :) It was a pretty long distance to look out over the ponds, and Sue was saying we should paddle out closer to our birdie friends in a canoe (heehee!)....we were trying to let her down easy, and explain it wasn't exactly a super-duper plan, but then she thought better of her idea when we saw a lovely dead muskrat nearby (eww! no, not because he was dead...but he'd been swimming in there!)
We left the sewage ponds and hit the highway, where we saw our first Turkey Vulture of the year! (They say TV's use their sense of smell to find their food...we wondered if he was headed for that tender muskrat morsel?)

Where might we be headed on that highway, you ask? To the dump of course! No day of birding would be complete without a stop at at least two smelly destinations. We were in search of the Lesser Black-backed gull this time, but didn't have any luck in the 1/2 hour we were there. The dump closes at 5:30 and while Jay begged us to leave him there over night (gosh, that guy might like gulls a little too much, huh? :) we didn't like the looks of some of the mattresses he was considering, and drug him outta there just in time.

hehe, maybe after this (obviously truthful) story Jay will think twice before posting incriminating photos of *ahem* certain people enjoying themselves at the dump (what? Heidi is obsessed with gulls and the dump too??)
With a little bit of daylight left, we decided we wouldn't be true birders if we didn't make one last stop before dark, so we headed off to Wilson Springs. We walked the loop there and saw lots of birds, including Coots, Ring-necked Ducks, Lesser Scaup, Mallards, Bufflehead, Pied-billed grebes and Gadwall. We also saw a Bald eagle and a red-tail, our first Eurasian Collared Doves of the day, Brewers and Red-Wing blackbirds (including one that was chasing down a Kestrel) another singing Marsh wren, and a group of almost 60 magpies! wow!

It'd been a fun day, but I think we were all ready for a nap as we piled back in the warm car at sunset and headed for home.


finishing the day at Wilson springs!
Sue, Gary, Mike and Heidi


  1. I'll trade you 10 Harris's sparrows for a Great-horned owl --no, ANY owl. where the heck are Texas owls??

  2. make it 9 harris's and a Red-shouldered hawk and you've got yourself a deal!