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? ;-)

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Camas, Island Park, AND passing #250!!!

Here's another blog post, authored from the booth at Castle's Corner in Carey, ID. :)
no Jay has not died (yet!) but at the moment he is driving to Shoshone, ID to pick up our gov't truck we use for surveys...so once again Heidi is the one doin' the blog :)
my 'office' for an hour tonight at the gas station! :)
Jay and I just finished up a whirlwind tour of eastern Idaho for our 'days off', which included visits to Market Lake, Camas NWR, and Island Park.

some highlights!

at Market on Sunday night:
-lifer American Bittern! (we got to hear his 'guh-whump' calling all night long! and saw one in flight)
-6 short-eared owls!
-SUPER-cute fledgling long-eared owl :)
-gazillions of Ibis and Franklin's gulls!! (colonies with 2000+ of each species)
-my first great looks at Forster's Terns!
-near market this morning: a Glossy Ibis! (we received the tip on this one from who else, but Cliff!!)

'The Glossy' is somewhere in there :)
at Camas: (my inaugural visit!!)
we visited Camas first on Monday, and also visited bright and early this morning. (we woke up to rain showers, which continued through the whole time we were there! I thought this was Idaho…not Seattle! ;)
-tons of tanagers, INCLUDING , on Monday, a female Scarlet Tanager!!!! crazy! (Jay had been telling me on the drive from Laidlaw the day before to keep an eye out for tanagers w/o wing bars....little did we know!)
The mother-load of flycatchers!
-my lifer looks at Cordilleran Flycatchers...sooo cute and green :) definitely one of my favorite 'empids' (...maybe 'cause they're one of the few that I can ID solo? ;)
-some cute Least Flycatchers :)
-probably 12 Peewees! (including a sweet comparison look between an Olive-Sided flycatcher and a peewee)
-lots of Willow Flycatchers singing their cute ‘fitz-bew!’

And after birding Camas on Monday, we made a quick run up to Island Park to visit our friend Cliff (who was awesome enough to show us the Boreal owls over spring break)
Just a few hundred yards from Cliff’s house, our luck started when we saw a Dusky Grouse! My first ‘confirmed sighting’ and therefore, Lifer!!!

A Dusky grouse spotted on the road near Island Park!
The three of us piled into Jay’s Subaru (and Jay and I became even more conscious of just how much crap we have stuffed into that vehicle!!—and maybe the smell too? :) –
And we headed out to a spot where Cliff assured us we’d be able to find Northern Waterthrush along the reservoir. We weren’t there 5 minutes before one popped out of the bushes in response to our calls! It was so cute and streaky…another lifer! (right about this time I asked Jay why we had only come birding with Cliff once before during the year! Go Cliff!)
While listening for the waterthrushes, we heard a sound that none of us quite recognized, but Jay and Cliff thought it sounded like some sort of grebe…but not a Western. We drove down the road to get a better view and saw a grebe with its neck tucked….of course we got out the scope, and soon his head popped up, revealing that he was a Red-necked Grebe! Sweet!!! It was right about then that I realized that I had just passed the 250 mark on my year list!! (Jay had made 250 a few days before too!)
We had had plans to drive to a spot an hour away to find a red-necked grebe, so with so much extra time, we figured there was no excuse for us not going in search of woodpeckers.
Over spring break in Island Park, we had snowshoed into a very newly burned area and seen lots of sign of black-backed or three-toed woodpeckers, but hadn’t seen any. This time, we were able to drive the road up to the burn and within 10 minutes of walking on the crispy black ground, we heard a strange chattering….
We saw a three-toed woodpecker fly in front of us, but at the same time, Cliff called that he’d seen Black-backed’s!!! of course we rushed over to see the black-backed’s and were rewarded with a view of two males! They were both on a burned tree, straight across from each other and they were both chattering away (the noise we’d heard earlier) Each male would peek his head around the trunk to see his opponent, and they circled around and around, up and down the tree, being cranky with each other. Then, after one of the males drummed on the tree-top, there was an attack!!! They flew at each other, pecking hard, and almost hitting the ground. All the while chattering away. Poofs of feathers were flying!! I couldn’t help but giggle at the face off, as the boys continued fighting each other, showing each other their white chins by tilting their heads up, waving them back and forth, and spreading their wings wide to reveal the barred patterning. By the end, they both disappeared, with only one male returning. He landed on a nearby tree, spread his wings, and chattered, and then shook the remaining feathers of his opponent off of his bill! We were sure he was the winner of the stand-off when he proudly flew up and mated with his girl who had (apparently) been observing from high in the trees!
During this drama, we also saw a pair of Three-toed Woodpeckers, who didn’t seem to mind the crazy black-backed’s at all! Cliff is Ah-Suhm at findin’ us those birds!!! :)

The three of us after watching the woodpecker drama...a photo timed from the hood of Jay's car :)
Finally, after visiting Camas again today we decided to head up Manan Butte to look for Black-throated Sparrows with Cliff. Though we struck out on the sparrows, we did find a different cute somebody. Jay had split off from the main trail as we were climbing up, and soon found a pair Blue-gray Gnatcatchers!! Lucky for me, Jay is SUPER nice, and pointed them out to me ;) even though it meant that I would catch up to him another species! (Jay had seen them without me during our first week of owl surveys) yay! They are SOOO adorable!

Whew! It’s been a whirlwind couple’a days, and this is a whirlwind post!
Do ya think we’re havin’ fun yet this summer?? :)

Until next time!

1 comment:

  1. Wow! Those are some amazing sightings you got in there. I need a 2x handicap just to keep up with you guys! I'd probably still lose. Glad you had a great trip.