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, November 24, 2009

Cascade Reservoir

On November 7th (wow, that was a few weeks ago now!) Jay and I, along with our good friend and super IBO volunteer Gary, took off on a trip to Cascade Reservoir. With loons and scoters showing up in northern Idaho and surrounding states, we figured we'd probably find some. And boy were we right! There were HUNDREDS of loons on the Reservoir, though almost all of them were Common's. We spent the day scouting around the entire shore of the lake, scoping out all those loons. Among them, we were lucky enough to spot a Pacific Loon!! Finally something that was not a Common Loon, and it was a Lifer!

We continued scoping, and continued to see loons! We finished our circuit around the lake, and headed out on the road to check out some raptors. We saw lots of Red-tails and Rough-legs, adn then Jay spotted something unexpected in a field of grazing cattle. We turned around after passing it on the highway and got out the scope. It was a Cattle Egret! The only other Cattle Egrets I've seen were from a million miles away at the mud flats at American Falls, so it was a treat to see this guy strutting around in the field at such close range. We were surprised that this bird would still be in Idaho, but after our post to IBLE, we soon learned that there was a pattern of these guys showing up in the state around this time every year. I enjoyed hearing about many other egret sightings within just a few weeks of us seeing this one...it's cool what you'll learn when you pay attention!

The Cattle Egret in Cascade
The Cattle Egret field and a view of the snow mountains near Cascade

After seeing the Cattle Egret, and a cool Harlan's Redtail, we headed to the shore again in hopes of a Scoter. We found a few more Loons, and also found some cute visitors in the trees....a flock of at least 11 Pygmy Nuthatches! They gave us some great looks, perched squeaking on the tips of the pine branches. It was cool to see them because they were a Lifer for Gary...not to mention they are just downright adorable, I don't care who you are! ;)

Taking a short break from birding: Gary told me the fence was too high to step over without touching it. I sure showed him!! :)

With just a few minutes of daylight left, we had two options: 1) make a quick run to a tiny reservoir nearby, or 2) start the long drive home....surprise, surprise, our motto prevailed once again: "well.....we're already here, so we might as well do it" :)
We jetted down the road to Davis Reservoir, and at sunset on the orange and purple water we could just make out two scoters!!....carefully watching through the scope, we were able to catch hints of a white wing patch on the birds when they turned just right or stretched their wings. Another Lifer for the day! a White-winged Scoter! Guess our motto paid off once again! We watched the Scoters until it really was too dark to see anything, and then made our trip home to Boise.

Running out of light at Davis Reservoir



  1. Do you think the loons will still be around this time of year? I am planning to go up to Cascade to try and see them and to avoid Black Friday in the Teasure Valley.

  2. I'm not sure if they will be. In recent visits to places that had TONS of loons earlier in the year (like CJ Strike reservoir) the loons have been mostly gone...with just one or two left. But Cascade definitely had the most loons we had seen all year, so maybe there are still some lingering?