A Travellerspoint blog

Hike down Mt. Baldy

72 °F

Today (Tuesday, August 9), my dad and I rode the ski lift up and then hiked all the way down Mt. Baldy in Sun Valley, Idaho. It was a beautiful partly-sunny day with temperatures ranging from 47-72 degrees.

The ride up the ski lift offered some breathtaking views of the mountainous scenery around, and we even spotted some paragliders flying right above us!

The view from the summit of Mt. Balde was incredible and panoramic. These are the Boulder Mountains:

And these are the Pioneer Mountains, the third-highest range in Idaho:

We even spotted the pool of the condo at which we stay, from 4,000 feet above it!

Then, we hiked the numerous trails on Mt. Baldy all the way down the 4,000 feet to the condo. It was killer on our knees; however, beautiful scenery and a fantastic array of birds distracted us sufficiently. I had a few target birds including Black-backed Woodpecker, Dusky Grouse, Rock Wren, & Northern Pygmy-Owl.

This is a juvenile MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD, aptly named:

BLACK-BACKED WOODPECKER! One of my target birds for this hike, I have only seen this bird twice before (both times also on Mt. Baldy) and the views were even more horrible than this:

In the tree next to the Black-backed was an equally-uncommon pair of AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKERS, which also happen to be the Black-backed's closest relative. Here is the male Three-toed:


OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER, nicely perched in front of the mountains:

A big surprise was seeing three TOWNSEND'S WARBLERS in a row! Sun Valley is on the far eastern edge of their regular range so it was a treat to see three of these beauties! Just like any warbler, they wouldn't stop moving, so I only obtained this one poor photo:



WILLIAMSON'S SAPSUCKER, another uncommon high-elevation woodpecker species!

Toward the end of the hike, this Mule Deer stuck its head between two trees for a cute photo:

It was a great hike! Thanks to my dad for hiking and birding with me. Bird-of-the-day goes to the Black-backed Woodpecker with runners-up to the American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Townsend's Warblers, & Williamson's Sapsuckers. The complete eBird species list for the hike is attached below.

Stay tuned and good birding!

World Life List: 923 Species (no recent life birds)

28 species (+2 other taxa)

Turkey Vulture 1 Flyover Traverse Trail
Red-tailed Hawk 1 Flyover Warm Springs Trail
hummingbird sp. 1 Probably Calliope, flew by very fast
Williamson's Sapsucker 1 Warm Springs Trail
Hairy Woodpecker 2 Bald Mountain Trail
American Three-toed Woodpecker 2 Bald Mountain Trail, maybe a mile from the summit
Black-backed Woodpecker 1 With the above American Three-toed Woodpeckers
Northern Flicker 1
Olive-sided Flycatcher 1 Bald Mountain Trail
Hammond's Flycatcher 2 Bald Mountain & Warm Springs Trails
Cassin's Vireo 1 Bald Mountain Trail
Steller's Jay 1 Heard-only Warm Springs Trail
Clark's Nutcracker 3 Bald Mountain & Warm Springs Trails
Violet-green Swallow 5 Flying all over the place, very conservative estimate
Mountain Chickadee 25 All 3 trails, quite common
Red-breasted Nuthatch 2 Bald Mountain Trail
Brown Creeper 1 Bald Mountain Trail
Rock Wren 3 Bald Mountain & Warm Springs Trails
wren sp. 2 A pair, either House or Rock
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 2 Bald Mountain Trail
Mountain Bluebird 5 Summit of Mt. Balde
Townsend's Solitaire 1 Flyover, Warm Springs Trail
Yellow Warbler 1 Base of Warm Springs Trail
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2 Bald Mountain Trail & base of Warm Springs Trail
Townsend's Warbler 3 Bald Mountain Trail, photos obtained. Nice close looks at all three.
Chipping Sparrow 6 All 3 trails
Dark-eyed Junco 25 Very common everywhere
Western Tanager 2
Cassin's Finch 2
Pine Siskin 20 Very common everywhere

Posted by skwclar 14:26 Archived in USA Tagged idaho western_tanager mt_baldy sun_valley mountain_bluebird black_backed_woodpecker american_three_toed_woodpecker red_breasted_nuthatch olive_sided_flycatcher townsends_warbler clarks_nutcracker williamsons_sapsucker mule_deer Comments (3)

Wood River Valley Birding

semi-overcast 77 °F

Yesterday (Monday, August 8) I did some local birding near the town of Ketchum (right next to Sun Valley), the town in which we stay every year out here in Idaho.

A bit of birding in the morning close to home yielded some nice looks at YELLOW WARBLERS:


Then, in the evening, I attended a bird walk led by Poo Wright-Pulliam and we were joined by another birding friend, Hunter who is also in high school, and two other birders. Pretty soon after arriving at the bike trail near St. Luke's Hospital, we found this male AMERICAN KESTREL:

CEDAR WAXWING nest, very cool!

Here is an adult waxwing:

Female/immature type YELLOW WARBLER:


This flyover COMMON NIGHTHAWK was a big surprise and it is the first flight shot I have ever obtained of a nighthawk!

Then, we birded at the beautiful Elkhorn Pond:

Unidentified probable "Empidonax" flycatcher (Empidonax refers to a group of hard-to-distinguish flycatchers). Maybe a Cordilleran? Does anyone have an ID?

The bird-of-the-day, in my opinion, was this ROCK WREN which vocalized not even five minutes after I expressed interest in finding one!

It was a very good day of birding! Thanks to Poo Wright-Pulliam for leading the evening bird walk!

Stay tuned, because today my dad and I will ride the ski lift up Mt. Balde in Ketchum, and then we will hike/bird our way down the mountain!

Good birding,

World Life List: 923 Species (no recent life birds)

Posted by skwclar 07:20 Archived in USA Tagged flycatcher yellow_warbler yellow_rumped_warbler american_kestrel cedar_waxwing western_wood_pewee common_nighthawk elkhorn_pond rock_wren Comments (0)

Hike near Galena, ID

semi-overcast 77 °F

Today my family and I took advantage of this beautiful (but typical for Idaho) day, and we did a moderate hike in the heart of the Boulder Mountains. It was beautiful, and nice to finally get out in nature after two weeks of music camp.

The best bird of the day came first, as I spotted a pair of gorgeous RED CROSSBILS foraging in the parking lot! I have only seen this species twice before today, and this is by far the best view I have ever gotten of this species:

Here is the male with a good view of his namesake crossed bill:

Juvenile TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE, a nice find:

Cute little ground squirrels like this guy were scuttling all over the place:

Male CASSIN'S FINCH, a common montane forest species in Idaho:



The hike came to an end with a nice look at this beautiful male WESTERN TANAGER:

Bird-of-the-day to the Red Crossbills and runners-up to the Townsend's Solitaire and Western Tanager. The full list is attached below.

Stay tuned, because tomorrow I will be birding with my good friend Poo Wright-Pulliam!

Good birding,

World Life List: 923 Species (no recent life birds)

23 species today:

Rufous Hummingbird 1
Northern Flicker 2
Olive-sided Flycatcher 1
Hammond's Flycatcher 1
Dusky Flycatcher 1
Warbling Vireo 1
Gray Jay 2
Clark's Nutcracker 2
Common Raven 1
Violet-green Swallow 3
Mountain Chickadee 2
Townsend's Solitaire 1 Juvenile
American Robin 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler 2
Chipping Sparrow 1
Brewer's Sparrow 1
Dark-eyed Junco 20
Western Tanager 3
Lazuli Bunting 1
Brown-headed Cowbird 1 Juvenile
Cassin's Finch 10
Red Crossbill 2 Photos
Pine Siskin 10

Posted by skwclar 13:25 Archived in USA Tagged prairie_dog red_crossbill townsends_solitaire cassins_finch brewers_sparrow dusky_flycatcher western_tanager Comments (2)


sunny 79 °F

Today was my last day of opera workshop camp here in Sun Valley, Idaho, and we ended our two weeks with two triumphant concerts!

Now that I actually have a moment to post, my one noteworthy birding moment came two days ago while we were having lunch, and somebody spotted a GREAT HORNED OWL roosting on a building above us! How cool!

More to come tomorrow, as my family will go on a hike!

Good birding,

World Life List: 923 Species (no recent life birds)

Posted by skwclar 20:13 Archived in USA Tagged great_horned_owl Comments (1)

Surprise Utah Birding!

sunny 99 °F

Today I missed my connecting flight to Idaho, so I was stranded in Salt Lake City for 8 hours. My solution: go birding!

After a quick taxi ride, I arrived at my destination for the afternoon, Bountiful Pond which is a pretty little lake with a nice view of the mountains and a fair amount of bird activity.

You know you're out west when you see a WESTERN GREBE!

A couple of FORSTER'S TERNS were nice, the first one is in breeding and the second is in nonbreeding plumage:


I encountered a "life mammal:" a Long-tailed Weasel! How cool! Thanks to Liz Cifani for the species identification and she also told me that this species, also known as the Ermine, turns completely white in the winter. I would love to see it in that plumage!

WHITE-FACED IBIS, a nice treat:


Female/juvenile type GREAT-TAILED GRACKLE:

My bird-of-the-day goes to the CLARK'S GREBE that hung around the pond, probably the most uncommon species I found today:

Good birding! I'll probably post in about two weeks once the birding part of my Idaho trip starts.

Good birding,

World Life List: 923 Species (no recent life birds)

Posted by skwclar 20:22 Archived in USA Tagged mountains animals birds sky utah Comments (2)

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