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? ;-)

Friday, May 1, 2009

An outing to the Snake with the Carlsons & Co

Last year, Kecia won the bidding at the Bald Eagle Days fundraiser for 'A Birding Day with Jay' as a gift for her husband, Dave, and Saturday, April 11 was the day (little did she know what she was getting herself into ;-). I know what you might be thinking - NO, I didn't take them to the dump, a cemetary, a feedlot, or a sewage treatment plant.... Dave & I had communicated about the details and, after seeing the blog, they decided that having Heidi along would be fun. Dave & Kecia also brought along Dave's dad Arnold (from Boston), Dave's brother-in-law Brian, and a friend Terri. Unfortunately for Terri, she took all the pictures shown here so she's MIA in all of them :-(.

We met up and piled into 2 cars - ladies vs. guys (I wonder if Kecia & Terri had already planned that part out ;-) and headed on down towards Dedication Point and Swan Falls dam. I enjoyed chatting with the dudes but the chats were often interrupted b/c we were seeing A LOT of raptors along Swan Falls Rd - including some newly-returned Swainson's Hawks playing house, more Rough-legged Hawks than I expected for mid-April (at least 4 or 5), several Ferruginous (including one very close to the road on the ground - Heidi's best look ever! - that the guys car drove right by - oops :), Red-tails, Prairie Falcons, a Golden Eagle, and several N Harriers. We also saw a Cooper's Hawk just before dropping into the canyon. Everyone was enjoying the great looks at raptors and I was particularly impressed with Dave's knack for IDing the raptors (I think the Rough-legs might have been a favorite).

As we began down the trail to Dedication Point, we saw a raven in hot pursuit of a Prairie Falcon that was carrying a small (or part of a) ground squirrel. I think we were all surprised when the raven appeared to hit the falcon (or at least came very close) and then swooped down to snatch up the morsel that the falcon had dropped!! We lingered a bit at Dedication Point and enjoyed a singing Say's Phoebe, many White-throated Swift fly-bys, and - of course - some nice views-from-above of raptors (though less raptor activity than a few weeks before). We also ran into Denise Hughes (very friendly Caldwell birder) who informed us that SIBA (southwestern Idaho birders association) was also having a field trip to the area and she was trying to catch up with them!

Most of the gang (David, Jay, Kecia, Heidi, & Brian) @ Dedication Point enjoying the tower-buzzing White-throated Swifts

Lunchtime! A gourmet picnic spread being enjoyed by Kecia & Arnold.

We wound down to Swan Falls dam and the Carlson crowd pulled out a seriously gourmet lunch that included the best pasta salad I can remember eating, fresh fruit, brownies, and much more (was that champaigne that I saw?). I think it was the brownies but, one-by-one, members of the SIBA crowd started wandering over to see who had brought such a spread! (They claim to have actually just finished lunch and not be hungry - but I didn't eat that many brownies!) And we soon spotted the double-trouble that is RL Rowland and Mark Collie ;-) These guys had spent the AM there and gave us some hot tips and, among other fun birds, we soon found a Clark's Grebe on the river and a Red-naped Sapsucker actively foraging in a cottonwood.

A Clark's Grebe on the Snake River - our first of the year!

Watching the Red-naped Sapsucker (Mark Collie at left; RL Rowland @ right)

As we packed up to head for Boise, I asked if folks wanted to switch up who was riding in which car but Kecia and Terri would have none of it - they wanted to keep Heidi for themselves! (I heard something about scheming to come up with some little-known birding facts they could later impress dinner guests with but maybe the birding battle of the sexes had something to do with it?). Not sure but I tried not to be too hurt that Kecia & Terri were so averse to me riding with them!!

In all seriousness, it was a really fun outing and I enjoyed meeting all of them (and hope to see them during fall migration at Lucky Peak). Thanks to the Carlson's & friends for the fun day and great spread!


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