A Travellerspoint blog

Days 10-15: Camp Wrap-up and Sawtooth Birding!


semi-overcast 87 °F

On saturday, I wrapped up my third summer experience with the Sun Valley Summer Music Institute’s opera workshop. Here you can watch a snippet of my performance:

Then, yesterday, I went birding with three birding friends from the Wood River Valley: Poo, Kathleen, and Jean. We headed up north in search of specialties of the mountainous central region of Idaho, and then hoped to owl a bit during the night and enjoy the Perseid Meteor Shower.

The trip started out well with this STELLER’S JAY posing near my condo:

Then, after driving north on Highway 75 we entered a shaded ravine near Galena Lodge in the Boulder Mountains in hopes of finding Spruce Grouse, which would be a life bird for Poo and I. Alas, no Spruce Grouse, but we did find this HAMMOND’S FLYCATCHER:

Beautiful scenery in the ravine:

These fritillary butterflies abounded throughout the day, one of our many cool non-bird sightings:

Next, we stopped along a few pull-offs near Galena Pass on Highway 75 and found this brightly-colored male CASSIN’S FINCH:

The next stop was Alturas Lake in the Sawtooth Valley where we came upon this regal BALD EAGLE scanning its beautiful territory:

On the way out, this male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD posed for a decent photo alongside the road:

Next location was Iron Creek Road west of Stanley where we dipped on Spruce Grouse yet again, but this beautiful RED CROSSBILL which posed very nicely was a great consolation. These are one of my favorite birds, and this weekend I hope to find their relative the Cassia Crossbill in the South Hills of Idaho!

A distant possible Pygmy/Saw-whet Owl was heard tooting at this location, but we couldn’t rule out any man made noises, let alone narrow the ID down to a single species.

Our main birding location for the evening was Cape Horn Road in the Salmon - Challis National Forest, where our target bird was the Great Gray Owl. There were some beautiful scenes that were just begging to be photographed along the road:

Unidentified hawk — what is this?? Ferruginous? Red-tailed?

SANDHILL CRANES abounded in this area, with many juveniles lacking the red crown:

Beautiful adult male NORTHERN HARRIER hunting over the grassland:

This WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE was also very cooperative for photos. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find his close relative the Olive-sided Flycatcher.

Juvenile WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, a common summer bird along Cape Horn Rd:


SAVANNAH SPARROW, pretty cool find for this part of the state:


A beautiful herd of Elk grazing in the meadow during the evening:

Another four-legged friend we came across were these cool Pronghorn Antelope:

This SWAINSON’S HAWK was lit beautifully in the evening light:

More beautiful Elk we accidentally scared off the road:

As it grew darker and darker, it grew clearer and clearer we were not meant to see the Great Gray Owl yesterday. You win some, you lose some! At least this sliver of a crescent moon was a good consolation prize:

Although no owl species were detected along Galena Pass while we were stargazing, the four of us did see a breathtaking meteor streak across the Milky Way-studded sky, which is absolutely stunning here out west. It was a great day of birding and nature appreciation in general!

Bird-of-the-day to the Red Crossbill, which is always one of my favorites and hopefully a good omen for the Cassia species this coming weekend! Thanks so much to Jean for driving all yesterday!

Good birding,
World Life List: 951 Species

Posted by skwclar 10:39 Archived in USA

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Great pictures thanks for sharing!

by Mary Stevens

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