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? ;-)

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Road Trip to Eastern Idaho .... Day 2

In case you missed it from yesterday's post about "Day 1", Heidi's part of the post is in blue, and Jay's part is in red

Friday AM: After a long day of birding and a late night of owling I was happy to crash on the couch by the warm wood stove! And just as Cliff and Lisa had predicted, I woke up in the morning and looked out the window to see 4 birds below the feeder. Without even getting out of bed, I had my first lifer of the day: Pine Grosbeaks!! trip lifer #5! including 2 beautiful males! (no…I’m not a spoiled birder at all! ;) hmmmm?

After a relaxed AM of coffee, gourmet breakfast, and good conversation, Cliff was up for some exploring with us so we decided to ski/snowshoe 2.5 miles back from the road into an area of forest that had burned last summer in the hopes of finding Three-toed or Black-backed Woodpeckers.

Cliff & Heidi on the snow

Cliff & Jay on the trail

After a long & invigorating stroll in, we finally arrived at the burn and soon started to see sign of the target woodpecker species, who often 'flake away' the bark while foraging as shown on the burned tree below. Amazingly, these species (maybe especially Black-backs) often move into burns almost immediately after the fires sputter out to take advantage of the increase in insect larvae (especially beetles that specialize on dying/burned trees). But, Heidi's luck had run out for the moment for, though we saw sign of these woodpeckers (including poo stuck to the sides of the trees! yeah, sweet, I know...) almost everywhere, the only one we could find was a Hairy Woodpecker (though not as reliant on burns, another species that tends to increase after a fire).

Burned tree showing the characteristic 'flaking' of bark often caused by the foraging of Three-toed or Black-backed Woodpeckers.

On the way back we were rewarded with a pair of Gray Jays (another Heidi lifer!) that flew across the trail ahead of us ... once we caught up to them, we thought we'd heard something like a Pygmy-owl in the background so I did my best imitation of their trilling call (which is passable but not great). I hadn't even finished when one of the jays kicked in with its own imitation ... and one much better than mine! Made me laugh outloud and I struggled to keep whistling .... ;-). A Clark's Nutcracker even came in to check things out. As usual, the jays were very curious and stuck around for a while.

During the day we were also lucky enough to find some fresh tracks of this Ruffed Grouse that we tracked to its day roost in a Lodgepole Pine!

We got back from snowshoeing just in time to eat dinner and head back out to visit the Boreal Owl nest cavity. It wasn’t very dark yet, and just as we were posing for Jay to take a picture of the owl voyeurs, Cliff spotted an owl fly through a clearing in the trees. We stood quietly and pretty soon we heard the male start calling from behind us! The night before we hadn’t heard any of his ‘real’ calls, so this was really neat! Then, after calling a few times behind us, he flew right over our heads and landed in a tree near the nest cavity! My first view of a Boreal Owl!! He sat there for a while and then swooped to the cavity. At first we thought he had gone inside, but when we looked with our binoculars we could barely make out his shape clinging to the outside of the tree. He ducked into the cavity, and then the hole in the side of the tree disappeared….it was filled up with his cute little white face! He started calling to the female, and we could see his face pattern as he turned his head back and forth, looking in all different directions to broadcast his calls. He kept calling and calling, but I guess his girl was playing hard-to-get that night, because even with his irresistibly cute face poking out of what I’m sure was a quality nest cavity, she never answered him. Poor little guy! Hopefully it’s just all part of the springtime Boreal Owl ‘game’ and she’ll soon realize that he’s the one.

Lisa, Cliff, & Heidi just before the Boreal Owl action began!
ooo, how's that sunburn Heidi??

....... to be continued

Don't forget that Wednesday (today!!) is the day to send in your yearlist counts, and it's also the last day to vote in the handicap poll!!

No comments:

Post a Comment