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? ;-)

Thursday, May 7, 2009


Since Jay and I had obviously not had enough birding for one weekend (with our two separate fieldtrips on Friday and Saturday) we decided that it was necessary to head out on Sunday for some important spring migration shorebirding. So, after church and soccer games, we met up with birding friend Tom McCabe in the afternoon and started out for our first stop, Indian Creek Reservoir. With a tornado warning nearby and thunderclouds looming overhead, we were a bit nervous about what our birding prospects would be, but figured we might as well try, right? The rain was crazy as we drove down the highway, but we could see blue sky behind us! By the time we reached Indian Creek, the small pocket of blue sky was almost overhead. We made it through some tricky patches of mud, thanks to Tom’s drivin’ skills and four-wheel-drive, and we weren’t disappointed with what we saw! There was an awesome variety of birds on the water including plenty of avocets, stilts, phalaropes, teal, blackbirds, curlews, ducks, grebes and more! And Jay was able to scope out plenty of little peeps and other shorebirds for me, all of them lifers!! There were Least, Spotted, and Western Sandpipers, two Semi-palmated Plovers, White-faced Ibis and a Dunlin! (He also managed to get even farther into the lead by finding Long-billed Dowitchers)
On the road around to the other side of the reservoir, we stopped near a little riparian area and among all the yellow-rump’s we were able to find two cute Dusky Flycatchers, a Nashville Warbler, and a Lincoln’s sparrow that was singing.
Then, after getting through some even muddier roads, we found some cool birds on that side of the reservoir. There were a gazillion swallows, a little sharp-shinned hawk, and a male Harrier displaying for his girl….pretty sweet! But the thunder and wind had really started up, and we decided we’d better get back through the mud before it started pouring again...
The storm was really coming in!!

Here's Tom, our mud-drivin' hero! :)

...and we made it with perfect timing! Almost as soon as we got on the highway again, the downpour hit. And again (dude, do we have good luck or what?) by the time we got to our next destination: Ted Trueblood WMA, the rain had let up. We didn’t see any year birds here, but there was a good variety, including lots of white pelicans.

Next we made a run to CJ Strike reservoir and stopped at Jack’s Creek. There we were able to see lots of gulls (including Bonaparte’s-a year bird!), swallows, and Caspian’s Terns, as well as a few Forster’s Terns: another Lifer!!

For our last stop of the day, we decided to give our bud Gary a call and meet him in Mountain Home. We saw tons of sweet birds at the reservoir, including many of the species we’d seen at Indian Creek plus a few more. We were able to find a pair of Red-necked Phalaropes, as well as a sneaky female Blue-winged Teal…more lifers!!! We stayed at the reservoir until sunset, when we were able to see a calling Burrowing Owl silhouetted on a fence post (a Heidi year bird, heehee!) AND just as we were heading back to the vehicles, we were able to spot a Long-eared Owl flying overhead! It was awesome to watch him swoop around, and from where Jay was standing he could even see the brown facial disks!

It was pretty sweet to see that dude in flight like that….what a great way to end a great (10-lifer!) day with friends!


  1. oh my gosh I HATE you guys and your owls. HATE.
    and by "hate" I mean "love."