A Travellerspoint blog

August 2014

Red Knot, Life Bird!

rain 85 °F

I have now successfully finished my first week at OPRF High School near Chicago, IL, and as a reward for my first week of high school I found my life bird RED KNOT at Montrose Point Bird Sanctuary this afternoon, which is a rare species for the Chicago area:

Good birding and stay tuned for more occasional posts like this throughout the year,

World Life List: 702 Species (1 life bird today: RED KNOT)

Posted by skwclar 20:25 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 16: Last Full Day in Idaho and Trip Wrap-Up

sunny 79 °F

Today I didn't do much birding here in the Sun Valley area of central Idaho but some of the better species I found were YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER, BROWN CREEPER, LEWIS' WOODPECKER, AMERICAN DIPPER, and WARBLING VIREO. Sadly, no pictures today after yesterday's photo-heavy post.

This nearly two-and-a-half-week-long trip to Sun Valley, Idaho has seriously been one of my favorite trips of my entire life. I have gained 21 life birds on this trip, which I have to say is quite an achievement because it is simply becoming harder and harder for me to find new birds! I have also immensely enjoyed listening to the beautiful concerts of the Sun Valley Summer Symphony, in which my mom plays, and birding and hiking amongst the majestic mountain ranges out here.

So, this concludes my Idaho trip for this year. Tomorrow since I will fly home to Chicago to start my Freshman year of high school on Monday, I will not post, but please stay tuned for more of my birding adventures near the Chicago area! My family currently does not have any other big trips planned out, but that doesn't mean I'll stop birding!

Stay tuned, and as always, good birding!

World Life List: 701 Species (no life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 17:59 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 15: My First Big Day and my 700th Life Bird!!!

semi-overcast 79 °F

Today two awesome birders from the Sun Valley area, Kathleen Cameron and Poo Wright-Pulliam, took me around Blaine County in central Idaho. We were in search of as many birds as possible in one day and the final stats of the day were 12.5 hours of birding from 7:30am-8:00pm with 104 species seen in total, 14 of which were life birds for me. That is an example of a successful big day: an entire day devoted to searching for as many birds as possible.

To learn more about Kathleen Cameron, who was the driver today and who is a fantastic birder, visit her website:

My dad dropped me off at a private residence twenty minutes south of Sun Valley where I met Kathleen. I briefly saw a PILEATED WOODPECKER there and also found my life bird SPOTTED TOWHEE, which would be the first of 14 life birds today:

Female RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD at one of the hummingbird feeders there:

Then, after picking up Poo Wright-Pulliam at her house, we all headed down to the Diversion Dam near Magic Reservoir where the first decent birds we found were two juvenile BLACK-CROWNED NIGHT-HERONS:

Then, to our immense surprise, we all saw this River Otter, a "life mammal" for me:

SAGE THRASHERS, like this one, were unexpectedly and pleasantly common in this area:

As were BELTED KINGFISHERS throughout the day, such as this male pictured below:

Then, I found my next life bird for the day: this beautiful LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE!

I also heard my life bird YELLOW-BREASTED CHAT at this site, but we sadly didn't see it.

There were a few shorebirds about, such as this LESSER YELLOWLEGS:

We also found our first LARK SPARROWS of the day at this site:

EASTERN KINGBIRD with the moon:

Then, we departed the Diversion Dam area and quickly found this dark-phase SWAINSON'S HAWK:

As well as this beautiful WESTERN KINGBIRD, an FOY species for me:

Then, we arrived at West Magic Village near Magic Reservoir, where we quickly found a migrant warbler that stumped us all. If anybody has any ideas about what this species is, please contact me!

Then, we found a warbler we could identify: a beautiful migrant WILSON'S WARBLER:

This village was very productive for finding roosting COMMON NIGHTHAWKS in the trees. I had never seen a nighthawk from this close before, they have such a beautiful plumage:

Look at that stunning necklace:

Then, we checked out the actual Magic Reservoir itself for various shorebirds and waterfowl. First, we found these BAIRD'S SANDPIPERS (left), and WESTERN SANDPIPER (right), which were both life birds for me:

Then, we found another lifer for me, these flashy BLACK-NECKED STILTS, the most beautiful shorebird species seen today:

To our immense surprise, the next shorebird species we saw were these exceptionally rare MARBLED GODWITS, which can nearly be classified as a vagrant species in this part of the country. These were also a life bird for me:

The next shorebirds we found were this flock of RED-NECKED and WILSON'S PHALAROPES. The Red-necked species, the ones with darker markings on them, were a life bird for me:

Then, we left the Magic Reservoir area and drove to Silver Creek Preserve. We found quite a few birds along the way, including the ones pictured below:

Next, I found my FOY ROCK WREN, always a cool species to photograph:

Then, Poo pointed out this SAY'S PHOEBE, life bird #700 for me! Kathleen, Poo, and I high-fived each other for finding my 700th life bird, which is a huge milestone in the birding community!


Then, we saw two Moose randomly out in the middle of a field alongside Highway 20:

Next, Kathleen showed us a place where she has consistently found roosting GREAT HORNED OWLS, and sure enough, there were two of these majestic birds just itching to have their picture taken. Here is a photo of one of them:

When we arrived at Silver Creek Preserve, we found our first female BULLOCK'S ORIOLE for the day:

As well as this female BLACK-CHINNED HUMMINGBIRD near the visitor center's great hummingbird feeders:

This adult BARN SWALLOW had built its nest, complete with begging chicks, on the porch of the visitor center:


Then, we played the VIRGINIA RAIL tape in the marsh, and unlike last time I tried this, one of these elusive birds actually made an appearance for a photograph!

Our next birding stop was at the Hayspur Fish Hatchery, where the only noteworthy birds were CINNAMON TEAL, such as this one:

This RED-TAILED HAWK posed in a very pretty pastoral setting:

Then, we drove back up the Wood River Valley to Poo's house where we had a quick rest stop, and thanks to Poo's husband who alerted us to this bird, I found my life bird CALLIOPE HUMMINGBIRD there:

Next, we birded Warm Springs Road west of Ketchum, where we found three nice woodpecker species, including this RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER:

And this LEWIS' WOODPECKER in beautiful evening light at their typical roosting site just south of the road:

The day of birding ended with a grand finale in the form of a majestic, crow-sized PILEATED WOODPECKER who posed for the best photograph I have ever taken of this species:

Three happy birders at the end of the day: me, Poo, and Kathleen, posing for a picture with the Majestic Feathers' famous Blue Mug. Photo used with permission from Kathleen Cameron.

Wow, what an awesome day! 12.5 hours of birding, 104 species in total, and 14 life birds?! That is my highest species total for a single day ever--beating my previous record--97 species--that I set in Panama! I don't know how birding could get much better than that! A huge thank you to Poo for pointing out some awesome birds along the way and especially to Kathleen for driving for all that time and showing us fantastic birding hotspots with phenomenal birds.

Bird-of-the-day to the mega-rare MARBLED GODWITS, which was a life bird for me and a species that both Poo and Kathleen haven't seen for a very long time. Full species list for the day is attached below.

Good birding,

World Life List: 701 Species (14 life birds today!)

104 species today:

Canada Goose 15
Gadwall 4
American Wigeon 1
Mallard 30
Cinnamon Teal 30
Redhead 5
Common Merganser 50
California Quail 2
Pied-billed Grebe 2
Horned Grebe X
Eared Grebe 15
Western Grebe 2
Clark's Grebe 1
Double-crested Cormorant 30
American White Pelican 20
Great Blue Heron 5
Black-crowned Night-Heron 2
Turkey Vulture 4
Osprey 5
Northern Harrier 3
Swainson's Hawk 2
Red-tailed Hawk 15
Virginia Rail 3
American Coot X
Sandhill Crane X
Black-necked Stilt 5
American Avocet 3
Killdeer 10
Spotted Sandpiper 4
Lesser Yellowlegs 1
Marbled Godwit 5
Baird's Sandpiper 2
Western Sandpiper 11
Wilson's Snipe 9
Wilson's Phalarope 5
Red-necked Phalarope 15
Bonaparte's Gull 5 Seen clearly in scope by Kathleen C., Poo W-Pulliam, and myself.
Ring-billed Gull 40
California Gull 10
Caspian Tern 1
Rock Pigeon (Feral Pigeon) 3
Eurasian Collared-Dove 6
Mourning Dove 15
Great Horned Owl 2
Common Nighthawk 10
Black-chinned Hummingbird 5
Rufous Hummingbird 5
Calliope Hummingbird 1
Belted Kingfisher 10
Lewis's Woodpecker 12
Red-naped Sapsucker 2
Downy Woodpecker 2
Northern Flicker 2
Pileated Woodpecker 1
American Kestrel 10
Olive-sided Flycatcher 1
Western Wood-Pewee 20
Willow Flycatcher 3
Say's Phoebe 1
Western Kingbird 5
Eastern Kingbird 15
Loggerhead Shrike 1
Warbling Vireo 2
Black-billed Magpie 50
Clark's Nutcracker 1
American Crow X
Common Raven 2
Horned Lark 40
Northern Rough-winged Swallow 10
Tree Swallow X
Violet-green Swallow 30
Barn Swallow X
Cliff Swallow 2
Black-capped Chickadee 7
Rock Wren 3
House Wren 2
Marsh Wren 2
Mountain Bluebird 2
American Robin 30
Gray Catbird 1
Sage Thrasher X
European Starling 10
Cedar Waxwing 15
Yellow Warbler 5
Wilson's Warbler 1
Yellow-breasted Chat 1
Spotted Towhee 8
Chipping Sparrow 2
Brewer's Sparrow 5
Vesper Sparrow 5
Lark Sparrow 8
Song Sparrow 3
Western Tanager 10
Black-headed Grosbeak 5
Lazuli Bunting 1
Red-winged Blackbird 10
Western Meadowlark 2
Yellow-headed Blackbird 6
Brewer's Blackbird 50
Brown-headed Cowbird 5
House Finch 5
Pine Siskin 1
American Goldfinch 10
House Sparrow X

Posted by skwclar 17:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 14: More Birding Near Sun Valley, ID

overcast 75 °F

Today I birded from my bike west of Sun Valley in central Idaho. Here are some photos from today:

TOWNSEND'S SOLITAIRE at a low elevation means that fall migration is underway!




The best bird I found today was a pair of beautiful DUSKY GROUSE, a life bird, seen along Warm Springs Road. Here is the best picture I captured of one of the grouse:

Bird-of-the-day to the only life bird of the day, DUSKY GROUSE.

Good birding,

World Life List: 687 Species (1 life bird today: Dusky Grouse)

Posted by skwclar 17:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 13: Chocolate Gulch Hike

semi-overcast 75 °F

Today my family and I hiked the nearby Chocolate Gulch trail, a beautiful hike only a few minutes north of downtown Sun Valley in central Idaho.

I didn't do any birding activities yesterday so that is why I did not post.

The only bird I managed to photograph on the hike was this HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER:

Great views were abundant from the highest point on the hike:

My mom and my sister waving to us on the way down:

Bird-of-the-day to the only bird species I photographed today, HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER.

Good birding,

World Life List: 686 Species (no life birds today)

Posted by skwclar 17:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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