It was a great group of students that ranged in age from 9 to the mid-70s and in bird ID experience from ZERO to decades of birding years. I knew a few of the folks previously, including Brian, Tom McCabe from Boise, Kathleen Cameron from Bellevue, and Danette & Iris Henderson from Boise. All students were awesome but one I especially appreciated is Rose, a hearing-impaired student from Gooding (teaches at the Idaho School for the Deaf and the Blind). She was fun, witty, and very patient during times when I was working on bird vocalizations with the other students. She hopes to bring her students to our Lucky Peak migration study this fall.
Both days of birding were a lot of fun ... there were of course many secretive birds that didn't show themselves but also many that were very cooperative - including a Dusky (aka Blue) Grouse perched in an Aspen, Western Wood-pewee and Willow Flycatcher that both vocalized and perched in the open within 30 minutes of each other - providing a very helpful comparison, many Lewis's Woodpeckers, Sandhill Cranes, a Moose that some of the group saw, several Lazuli Buntings, a Red-tailed Hawk carrying a young (& recently dead) American Crow (!!), and much more.
I think my biggest internal challenge (before & during) was how to tailor the class to such a wide range of experience levels but everybody was really patient & worked with each other really well. My sense was that everyone enjoyed it & learned some valuable things ... Also, it was really helpful to have some other experienced birders along (such as Tom, Kathleen, and Kim - and Heidi, of course) who could help point birds out and answer questions when I was otherwise occupied. In the end, we all had something we could teach each other and it was a great balance ;-).
This was the first time this class has been offered and all agreed it was a success - maybe something to repeat in future years. To see a slightly different story, visit the Lava Lake blog
Next up? On to some higher elevation bird surveys in the Wood River Valley and the Sawtooth National Recreation Area ...