Thus, en route to the Snake River canyon, Heidi & I stopped to study gulls at Pickle's Butte (Canyon Co) Saturday morning and ended up staying for 4 hours (yeah, quick stop, huh?!). Many birds left the area not long after we arrived but they kept coming back in and it took a while until we finally located some rarities. A couple times (once we'd been there a couple hours) I wondered if Heidi was getting bored so would ask, "Whad'ya think, should we move on?" to which she'd reply, "I don't know, what if something else good is about to fly in?". Morale of the story (much as this might sound crazy to non-birders): it's hard to pull yourself away from the dump when the gulling is good! Overall there was slightly less diversity than a couple weeks ago but we did succeed in finding 1 of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls (an apparent 3rd-winter bird - lifer for Heidi!) as well as 1 (1st-winter), 5 Thayer's (including 1 photographed adult), 30 Herring, and loads of Ring-billed (450) and California (>1500).
From there we headed towards (along the Snake S of Melba) and saw a migrating flock of 9 Long-billed Curlews just a couple miles N of the park (!!) and a female Yellow-headed Blackbird at the feedlot N of the park. At the park, we had great views of singing Rock & Canyon Wrens (lifer views for Heidi), Bushtits (another Heidi lifer!) building a nest, courting Say's Phoebes, tons of Violet-green Swallows, a Lincoln's Sparrow in with White-crowns, and a surprise Caspian Tern (another Heidi lifer!) along the river.
Between Celebration Park & Dedication Point, we enjoyed some very cooperative raptors including an adult Harlan's Red-tail and 2 Ferruginous Hawks. Dedication Point was awesome for close views of Prairie Falcons, Red-tails, & more ... we also saw/heard a calling pair of White-throated Swifts (the 6th life bird for Heidi on the day!).
We ended the day searching for recently-returned Sage Sparrows (just above where the road leads down towards ) and struck out as a storm was on its way in. But, we did enjoy more Say's Phoebes, Prairie Falcons, Turkey Vultures, and Red-tailed & Rough-legged Hawks. Hawk migration (especially Red-tails and some Turkey Vultures) was apparent throughout the day.
A great day that yielded 6 lifers for Heidi, including a rare gull and some fun new arrivals! Oh, and (b/c I had already seen VG Swallow last week in Lewiston) that species pulled Heidi one closer in the fierce competition ;-).