A Travellerspoint blog

Idaho Day 8: Rupert, Albion, & Lake Walcott

semi-overcast 90 °F


Today, Kathleen and I were headed down to Rupert to visit her mom, followed by an afternoon and evening of birding in the general vicinity including a Blue Grosbeak chase in Albion, ID and an evening at Lake Walcott State Park.

On the way to her mom’s, we passed by a field on the outskirts of Rupert that had an irrigation system going which attracted a large number of birds. This included one of my favorite Idaho species, the WHITE-FACED IBIS:

The Ibis were mixed in with many FRANKLIN’S GULLS:

And even a random LESSER YELLOWLEGS was present!

Next, we had a nice visit with her sweet mom Margaret. So nice to see her again!

Followed by a quick, hot stop at the Declo sewage ponds where there were a few waterfowl such as this distant LESSER SCAUP:

Another quick stop, this time at our friend Kathy’s house, also had a few birds including this BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD.

She has had Pinyon Jays very rarely in the past, one of five lifers I still need from out here, though as expected, they were not present today. This species is nomadic and extremely difficult to track down, covering large swaths of pinyon-juniper habitat across the arid west. It was great to see Kathy though!

So our next target was a family of Blue Grosbeaks in nearby Albion, Idaho. We searched successfully for these in the South Hills last year so we were hoping to continue our streak of good luck. Along the way, we came upon a stretch of road that must have had 20-30 WESTERN KINGBIRDS:

And in the town of Albion, I got my Idaho lifer WILD TURKEYS — two whole families of them! Awesome. Here are some close-ups of these rather unsightly birds which, though a household name, never cease to fascinate me.

A number of SWAINSON’S HAWKS were seen a bit further down the road.

It was time to search for the Grosbeak. There were a few birds around, including this juvenile BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD — hopefully not a bad sign…


But unfortunately no Grosbeaks this time despite our best efforts. So, we packed up and moved on to our other main stop today which was Lake Walcott in search of water birds and migrant passerines. The aquatic birds did not disappoint — here is a BLACK-NECKED STILT with FRANKLIN’S GULLS:

This GREATER YELLOWLEGS was thrashing about which had us worried for a bit, but it soon demonstrated that it was simply foraging rather than struggling. Shorebirds are weird.

Another great feeding behavior comes in the form of that done by the SNOWY EGRET, pictured here in the exact same spot I had my Idaho lifer last year. Cool!

This hen COMMON GOLDENEYE triggered the rare bird alert as it is not an expected species at this time of year and location — here it is pictured with a FRANKLIN’S GULL:

Getting some nice crisp shots of an adult CALIFORNIA GULL was something I had been wanting to do for a while and finally accomplished here.

A few more views of FRANKLIN’S GULLS, of which there were probably 500-600 at Lake Walcott State Park.

Here is a COMMON TERN transitioning into nonbreeding plumage foraging above the falls in front of a couple of SNOWY EGRETS:

WILSON’S PHALAROPE was a nice, welcome surprise:

After scanning through the waterbirds at the falls, it was time to move onto the songbirds. Here is a WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE:

WILSON’S WARBLER — Kathleen’s first of the year:

And a male YELLOW:

Here’s the female Yellow:

And a MACGILLIVRAY’S sulking like a classic MacGillivray’s.

And after picking through a number of beautiful WESTERN GREBES…

I found a distant one with a white face meaning it was my year-bird CLARK’S GREBE, the less-common of these two lookalike grebe species. Super awesome!

We were tired and it was getting dark so it was time to drive home after a long, pleasant afternoon of birding. We were treated to some wonderful views on the way home.

Good birding,
World Life List: 1139 Species

Posted by skwclar 05:45 Archived in USA

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