A Travellerspoint blog

A Weekend at City of Rocks

semi-overcast 96 °F

This weekend, eight birding friends and I went on a 2-night trip to the City of Rocks National Preserve and surrounding areas in southern Idaho (and a bit in far-northern Utah). We saw many, many birds, so read on!

My friend Nubs picked me up in his awesome 28-foot RV at 11:00am on Friday, and we were soon off!
large_7A8390AEDCAA14A48ABCF38483866CDD.jpeg

After a three hour drive, we arrived at the campground at City of Rocks National Preserve. I soon had fun exploring the desert habitat type around the campground, and there were many cacti plants around the area:
large_7A85FC9B03A110EED9C287DDF6958EB6.jpeg

We went on a bird walk around the campground and found a few things including this BLUE-GRAY GNATCATCHER:
large_7A87E63D0A6487E4F93090B510E0D0FB.jpeg

My life bird JUNIPER TITMOUSE!
large_7A8A2876FEAFE6C386349C9048C3F140.jpeg

Roosting COMMON NIGHTHAWK:
large_7A8C30DBBC55DAF501A7DEBCD5B3AE0D.jpeg

Flame Skimmer:
large_7A8E43DB0BFF24D68F9C08C7EDAA52BF.jpeg

Then, we piled into one of the birder's cars and we drove around City of Rocks a bit. Although we didn't find our hoped-for White-throated Swifts, we did get this BREWER'S SPARROW:
large_7A7EDC02D9B2B437F8C00BDA77D3D40A.jpeg

And this female/immature type LAZULI BUNTING:
large_7A8100CFB60461FAB18A60895ACC2E96.jpeg

After a wonderful dinner and dessert from chef Marianne who accompanied us on our trip, we went stargazing to watch the Perseid Meteor Shower and a flyover by the International Space Station, as well as owling in search of Flammulated Owls. Luckily, we found all of our terrestrial & extraterrestrial targets for the night, with highlights being multiple meteors, a brilliant pass by the space station, and GREAT HORNED, BARN, WESTERN-SCREECH, & our hoped-for FLAMMULATED OWLS, the last of which was a life bird for me! No photos unfortunately since all of our owls were either fly-bys or heard-only (as was the case with the Flammulateds); however, it was a great night.

Five hours later, we all piled back into the car at 5:30am for a full morning of birding. We had many target birds and found a good number of them. Starting our birding day off within the Jim Sage Mountains, this DUSKY FLYCATCHER was a tough ID but a nice species:
large_7A92AE8DCD8F216BE82649B2BE222F00.jpeg

Male BLACK-THROATED GRAY WARBLER! This is a photographic life bird for me as I have seen it before but never properly photographed it. We obtained soul-satisfying views and photos of this beautiful specimen.
large_7A954A88BDD00C8C150617F1D08B25DD.jpeg

PLUMBEOUS VIREO, a real life bird for me! Seeing 4 of these in one day was a treat:
large_7A97F0DEDC22845C60F2593C0197D180.jpeg

The "rarest" bird of the weekend was a pair of NASHVILLE WARBLERS, which are old hat for me because I'm from Chicago; however, these are a much more uncommon sight in Idaho and all of the other birders were very excited to see them:
large_7A9A4CD8D1536242E29523BFF46B2FCF.jpeg

JUNIPER TITMOUSE:
large_7A9D3AFFDEF1EB4F4C341578B96E7592.jpeg

RED-TAILED HAWK posing for photos very nicely:
large_7A9F55EFEC65BE9A633DCE688DC5D99A.jpeg

Pair of SAGE THRASHERS. We probably saw close to 100 of these over the weekend, which was really cool!
large_7AA54BD9AEA6B80913168CDC33D40131.jpeg

We also got a total of 11 LOGGERHEAD SHRIKES, including this guy who perched really nicely for us:
large_7AA8DC8EC546D66F623E3A41123A8799.jpeglarge_7AA73F1591A6A46683E0069404C63C56.jpeg

LARK SPARROWS were a pleasant sight, including this pair:
large_7AAB52D608C2C52BC58A2589FFF7676A.jpeg

Can you spot the GREAT BLUE HERON?
large_7AAD954AC34AF6A17B64940327D4EF69.jpeg

Suddenly, as we were examining a tree full of songbirds, a huge white bird burst out of the tree and out flew a BARN OWL! Luckily, probably the same guy perched for us further down the road, allowing for distant but identifiable photos of its heart-shaped face:
large_7AAF9408F9B900B3E7C3FF5301A8BB3E.jpeg

Female AMERICAN KESTREL:
large_7AB17C06BBCD89737162ED35A0DC8750.jpeg

Yesterday we had a very impressive total of 10 GOLDEN EAGLES including this flyover:
large_7AB3B1A00C247B428AFA968F6D95C0AD.jpeglarge_7ABFA4CBA2F78B19EEA19EA89F37D047.jpeg

And this guy who perched for us:
large_7AC149ACE7D52A705924BE7DF0C169EA.jpeg

We also found my life bird FERRUGINOUS HAWK, a spectacular species which is the largest hawk in North America!
large_7AC42863CC6D09EA9728136C57A617B3.jpeg

WESTERN MEADOWLARK:
large_7AC873DEF38CED351D109C8E829664DA.jpeg

Male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD:
large_7ACADEFCDE5AC925C2AD6745AB95C784.jpeg

VESPER SPARROW:
large_7ACDCA4FCCF07E95559EBD17A9D024AE.jpeg

NORTHERN HARRIER:
large_7ACFA9530E755C8C7F8B93EB6A27AB36.jpeg

A pair of WOODHOUSE'S SCRUB-JAYS, a life bird for me, flew into the campground and allowed for this photo:
large_7ABB23060C914D2355DBC52940EC838A.jpeg

And before another fantastic dinner prepared by Marianne, I took a photo of the beautiful desert sunset:
large_7ABDC05AD9879D309B4FE4EDEA930D73.jpeg

Today, we birded by car in the morning again and as well as beautiful birds, we birded in gorgeous areas. You can see why the preserves in the area are called City of Rocks and Castle Rocks! The landscape is truly astounding!
large_7AFA5733E3BD5DDD47800FD39CFD96C6.jpeglarge_7AEE9FF30BE0CAEF71A4A458DE40B5A5.jpeglarge_7AE6585AFDD248B35A67016CFA712DE1.jpeglarge_7AE15121B12432C765F1D2C9E4FCFCE5.jpeglarge_7AFCBBD5DDFC0A4B81DD3FF2CD1D43FD.jpeg

LARK SPARROW:
large_7ADB9A7EDD20CCD6AC01095684CA219B.jpeg

Female MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD:
large_7ADD2967B981CFC6D0453F7DACA47AC1.jpeg

Female RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER:
large_7ADF599D9A9695BFB93F9FC43E8D4970.jpeg

SPOTTED TOWHEE:
large_7AE30FF40914C7D88F2E770F4FE527F8.jpeg

My only life bird of the morning, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT aka "the flying cigar:"
large_7AE83F38AEFEA4FC1CCB3A5984505602.jpeg

EASTERN KINGBIRD:
large_7AE9D8ABDD2ABB5B55F6564AFF2A5AD8.jpeg

This COOPER'S HAWK allowed for beautiful views:
large_7AF05DAE00D28217E8C59180249A2ECB.jpeg

This rock has graffiti from pioneers dating back to 1843!
large_7AF7792EA6AFBD258045B569BECFEAC8.jpeg

This GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE perched nicely for us right on the rock:
large_7AF28147AE5D7A01DE0E65AC4DC19C19.jpeglarge_7AF472DAAA555D4AFD24C760773CAAEA.jpeg

Overall, it was a fantastic weekend! Thank-you to Norbert Fratt (aka Nubs) for letting me stay in his wonderful RV during the trip and thank you to Jean Seymour and Kathleen Cameron for driving during the birding.

I gained six life birds on the trip:
Ferruginous Hawk
Flammulated Owl
White-throated Swift
Plumbeous Vireo
Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay
Juniper Titmouse

Stay tuned! Tomorrow I will go mountain biking with my dad in the Boulder Mountains, and then on Wednesday I will be doing a central Idaho "big day" with three other birders when we will try to find the most bird species in one day from 2:10am till late! It'll be awesome!

Good birding,

Henry
World Life List: 925 Species (6 life birds on the City of Rocks overnight trip)

Posted by skwclar 20:55 Archived in USA Tagged idaho city_of_rocks brewers_sparrow dusky_flycatcher american_kestrel common_nighthawk mountain_bluebird blue_gray_gnatcatcher juniper_titmouse lazuli_bunting black_throated_gray_warbler plumbeous_vireo nashville_warbler red_tailed_hawk sage_thrasher loggerhead_shrike lark_sparrow great_blue_heron barn_owl golden_eagle ferruginous_hawk western_meadowlark vesper_sparrow northern_harrier woodhouses_scrub_jay red_naped_sapsucker spotted_towhee white_throated_swift eastern_kingbird coopers_hawk green_tailed_towhee

Email this entryFacebookStumbleUpon

Table of contents

Comments

Hi Henry- What a great trip! I think your dragonfly may be a Flame Skimmer. I remember Loggerhead Shrikes from my childhood in New Orleans. It was overcast all weekend here in SW Wisconsin, so I missed the meteor showers. Liz

by Liz Cifani

Wow!

by Karen Walsh

The scenery and the birds are amazing. Congratulations on all of your lifers!

That Woodhouse's Scrub-jay took me by surprise! I did not know that they split the Western Scrub-jay (yet again) into Woodhouse's and California Scrub-jays until today.

by Jonathan B

Comments on this blog entry are now closed to non-Travellerspoint members. You can still leave a comment if you are a member of Travellerspoint.

Enter your Travellerspoint login details below

( What's this? )

If you aren't a member of Travellerspoint yet, you can join for free.

Join Travellerspoint