A Travellerspoint blog

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Day 18: Birding with Kathleen!

Central Idaho

overcast 80 °F

Today, as you can tell, I had a wonderful day of delightful birding with my friend Kathleen C! Huge thanks to her for driving me about 250 miles in total today (!!!!!)

Starting the day off on Cottonwoods Road which leads to the Magic Reservoir, we spotted this far-away flock which we couldnt identify at the moment but what now are obviously WHITE-FACED IBIS. What a unique shape!
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TURKEY VULTURE waking up in the morning sun:
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This AMERICAN ROBIN posed with two SAGE THRASHERS, a common specialty of the sagebrush desert here in central Idaho!
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COMMON NIGHTHAWK, we saw many of these both flying and roosting today:
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AMERICAN KESTREL, one of over one hundred we found!
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Then, our first birding surprise of the day came when Kathleen spotted this NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD, an unexpected/vagrant species for this for north! Far out!
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Female BELTED KINGFISHER hunting below the Richfield Diversion Dam:
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Off she goes:
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CEDAR WAXWING:
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LOGGERHEAD SHRIKE is always a nice treat to see here in the desert:
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Finally, we arrived at the Magic Reservoir and though water levels were higher than in the past, we were able to soak up a few species including this LESSER YELLOWLEGS:
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LEAST SANDPIPER:
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Extremely-shaggy GREAT BLUE HERON:
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Then, all of the sudden, Kathleen spotted a raptor sitting on a far away telephone pole. Upon realizing it was a PRAIRIE FALCON, we drove over fast so I could obtain this photo of this LIFE BIRD! The first new species I’ve had since Italy, very cool, and long overdue!!
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WESTERN KINGBIRD:
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SAY’S PHOEBE:
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CLARK’S GREBE — notice that the eye is separate from its black cap:
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Transitional-plumage EARED GREBE:
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OSPREY with lunch:
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BREWER’S SPARROW:
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SAVANNAH SPARROW, beautiful looks at this guy:
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Then, all at once, a flock of AMERICAN COOTS (as well as other waterfowl) took off. Maybe they saw the falcon?!
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GREATER YELLOWLEGS:
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Along the desert road west of Fairfield, we spotted this Antelope:
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HORNED LARK:
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Our next stop was drive-through of Camas Prairie, where to our surprise we found this rare and beautiful FERRUGINOUS HAWK! This is the largest and one of the palest hawks in America, and was a complete surprise to us considering they are a declining species.
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CINNAMON TEAL in one of the few remaining water pockets there — dry season takes its toll on Idaho:
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The next stop was the countryside near Andersonville a Reservoir to search mainly for White-headed Woodpeckers which call the Ponderosa Pine forests there their home. Inside the actual reservoir we saw these AMERICAN WHITE PELICANS:
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WESTERN GREBE, notice the eyes are within its black cap:
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LEWIS’ WOODPECKER in a woodland savanna:
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MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD — in this area, we checked for their counterpart the Western but failed to find any.
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Immature BALD EAGLE:
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Female LAZULI BUNTING:
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Far-off female RED CROSSBILL, Kathleen and I were overjoyed to find this secondary target bird!
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Although we failed to find the White-headed Woodpecker, the other species found served as decent consolation prizes. After a long drive back, we were birding by car in Rock Creek Ranch where plenty was to be seen including this BARN SWALLOW:
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LARK SPARROW:
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Beautiful CALIFORNIA QUAIL in “Golden Hour:”
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Molting/immature type male HOUSE FINCH:
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When we arrived at our last stop, the Draper Preserve in Hailey, it was absolutely loaded with birds! WARBLING VIREOS like this were common:
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And this RED-NAPED SAPSUCKER was a cool surprise too:
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A fantastic, fantastic day! Big thanks again to Kathleen :)
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Bird-of- the-day to the PRAIRIE FALCON, my first life bird in quite a while! Full list is attached below!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 952 Species (1 life bird today: Prairie Falcon)

1. Canada Goose
2. Cinnamon Teal
3. Mallard
4. Common Merganser
5. California Quail
6. Eared Grebe
7. Western Grebe
8. Clark’s Grebe
9. American White Pelican
10. Double-crested Cormorant
11. Great Blue Heron
12. White-faced Ibis
13. Turkey Vulture
14. Osprey
15. Bald Eagle
16. Northern Harrier
17. Swainson’s Hawk
18. Red-tailed Hawk
19. Ferruginous Hawk
20. American Kestrel
21. PRAIRIE FALCON
22. Virginia Rail
23. Sora
24. American Coot
25. Killdeer
26. Least Sandpiper
27. Wilson’s Snipe
28. Spotted Sandpiper
29. Lesser Yellowlegs
30. Greater Yellowlegs
31. Ring-billed Gull
32. Rock Pigeon
33. Eurasian Collared-Dove
34. Mourning Dove
35. Common Nighthawk
36. Black-chinned Hummingbird
37. Belted Kingfisher
38. Lewis’ Woodpecker
39. Red-naped Sapsucker
40. Downy Woodpecker
41. Hairy Woodpecker
42. Northern Flicker
43. Western Wood-Pewee
44. Willow Flycatcher
45. Say’s Phoebe
46. Western Kingbird
47. Eastern Kingbird
48. Loggerhead Shrike
49. Cassin’s Vireo
50. Blue-headed Vireo
51. Clark’s Nutcracker
52. Black-billed Magpie
53. American Crow
54. Common Raven
55. Horned Lark
56. Tree Swallow
57. Violet-green Swallow
58. Northern Rough-winged Swallow
59. Barn Swallow
60. Black-capped Chickadee
61. Red-breasted Nuthatch
62. Brown Creeper
63. House Wren
64. Mountain Bluebird
65. American Robin
66. Gray Catbird
67. Sage Thrasher
68. NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD
69. European Starling
70. Cedar Waxwing
71. Yellow Warbler
72. Western Tanager
73. Black-headed Grosbeak
74. Lazuli Bunting
75. Western Meadowlark
76. Red-winged Blackbird
77. Brewer’s Blackbird
78. House Sparrow
79. House Finch
80. Cassin’s Finch
81. RED CROSSBILL
82. Pine Siskin
83. American Goldfinch
84. Spotted Towhee
85. Chipping Sparrow
86. Brewer’s Sparrow
87. Vesper Sparrow
88. Lark Sparrow
89. Savannah Sparrow
90. Song Sparrow

Posted by skwclar 22:58 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 17: Bald Mountain

Ketchum, ID

sunny 88 °F

Today I rode the gondola up Bald Mountain right next to Sun Valley and I birded my may down!

A bit of birding at the base before the gondola ride up yielded this male YELLOW WARBLER:
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And this cool female BLACK-HEADED GROSBEAK:
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The hike down the mountain was beautiful.
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Once I saw this MACGILLIVRAY’S WARBLER, I knew it would be a great day!
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Having trouble identifying this falcon. Ideas?
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This VESPER SPARROW was a cool find:
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Finally, I found this OLIVE-SIDED FLYCATCHER which was a species I had been searching for!
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RUBY-CROWNED KINGLET:
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Male HAIRY WOODPECKER:
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What is this sparrow? A juvenile? I obviously had some tough identification times today. Hah!
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BROWN CREEPER:
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Suddenly, a bright yellow light glimmered into the forest in front of me and I found this TOWNSEND’S WARBLER for the third year on Bald Mountain!
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DUSKY FLYCATCHER:
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Then, I saw a huge crow-like bird and it turned out to be an amazing PILEATED WOODPECKER! I love this bird!
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WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE:
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STELLER’S JAY:
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CASSIN’S VIREO, another seldom-seen species!
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Fawn Mule Deer:
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And my bird-of-the-day was this WILLIAMSON’S SAPSUCKER, another rare mountain species found on Baldy! Runners-up to the Townsend’s Warbler & Pileated Woodpecker. Five hours of fairly strenuous downhill hiking paid off! Boy do my knees feel it...
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Stay tuned, tomorrow I will be birding with my friend Kathleen south of the Wood River Valley! Good stuff!

And as always good birding-

Henry
World Life List: 951 Species

Posted by skwclar 16:00 Archived in USA Comments (0)

Day 16: Goat Lake!!

Sawtooth Mountains, ID

semi-overcast 91 °F

Today, my mom, Pearl, and I hiked up to the pristine Goat Lake in the Sawtooth Wildnerdess Area of central Idaho. We were inspired to do this hike because my dad led us on this exact same hike four years ago, “senza mamma” (without mom). So my mom took us instead this time!

Read the trip from four years ago here: https://worldbirding.travellerspoint.com/210/

The temperature difference on the trip today ranged from 28 degrees at 6:10am in which was absolutely brutal to hike for the first hour. By the end of the day, it ended up topping out at 91 degrees, a difference of over 60 degrees! That’s what happens in the mountains!

Beautiful views on the way up:
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CLARK’S NUTCRACKER:
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Then, I spotted this amazing, rare AMERICAN THREE-TOED WOODPECKER which we first heard drumming quite loudly:
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Mom and Pearl! :)
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Goat Falls, a beautiful break to admire this masterpiece of mother nature in between the rocky, scrambling ascent straight up a hillside that comprised the last part of the hike.
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Goat Stream leading from the lake:
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We made it!!!!! MY FAVORITE PLACE IN IDAHO! I even managed to swim in this glacial-fed lake which was quite an accomplishment considering it was bone-rattingly cold. I stayed in for less than a minute!
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The local pair of nesting PEREGRINE FALCONS even put on quite a show of screaming and diving for us, which was awesome! A spectacular show of nature with the fastest animals on earth!
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Indian Paintbrush:
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YELLOW-RUMPED WARBLER:
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After grabbing refreshing milkshakes at Smiley Creek Lodge after the hike, we stopped near the top of Galena Pass and I spotted some cool mountain forest finch species, including these male CASSIN’S:
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And the female:
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PINE SISKIN:
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Bird-of-the-day for today is the American Three-toed Woodpecker due to its rarity, and runner-up to the Peregrine Falcons for their amazing courtship display!

Good birding,
Henry
World Life List: 951 Species

Posted by skwclar 20:28 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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

Idaho

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:
https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=CvPkzF8CB6Y

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:
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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:
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Beautiful scenery in the ravine:
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These fritillary butterflies abounded throughout the day, one of our many cool non-bird sightings:
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Next, we stopped along a few pull-offs near Galena Pass on Highway 75 and found this brightly-colored male CASSIN’S FINCH:
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The next stop was Alturas Lake in the Sawtooth Valley where we came upon this regal BALD EAGLE scanning its beautiful territory:
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On the way out, this male MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRD posed for a decent photo alongside the road:
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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!
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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:
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Unidentified hawk — what is this?? Ferruginous? Red-tailed?
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SANDHILL CRANES abounded in this area, with many juveniles lacking the red crown:
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Beautiful adult male NORTHERN HARRIER hunting over the grassland:
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This WESTERN WOOD-PEWEE was also very cooperative for photos. Unfortunately, we couldn’t find his close relative the Olive-sided Flycatcher.
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Juvenile WHITE-CROWNED SPARROW, a common summer bird along Cape Horn Rd:
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VESPER SPARROW:
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SAVANNAH SPARROW, pretty cool find for this part of the state:
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YELLOW WARBLER:
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A beautiful herd of Elk grazing in the meadow during the evening:
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Another four-legged friend we came across were these cool Pronghorn Antelope:
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This SWAINSON’S HAWK was lit beautifully in the evening light:
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More beautiful Elk we accidentally scared off the road:
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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:
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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,
Henry
World Life List: 951 Species

Posted by skwclar 10:39 Archived in USA Comments (1)

Days 8-9: Galena Pass & Redfish Lake

Idaho

all seasons in one day 83 °F

On my eighth and ninth days here in Idaho, as well as preparing for my camp’s upcoming concerts, I have had the chance to get outside and enjoy nature!

Two days ago, this CORDILLERAN FLYCATCHER posed near the condo in which we stay — I believe they nest here.
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Later that evening, we visited Galena Pass to go owling, watch the evening sky and stargaze. In addition to the beautiful views from Galena Pass shown below, a SHORT-EARED OWL flew over the car on the drive there and from the pass I heard a distant calling BARRED OWL, both fairly expected species for the state, though I had never heard a Barred in Idaho before! A comet wasn’t too bad, either!
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Yesterday, my camp took an excursion to beautiful Redfish Lake in the Sawtooth Mountains. On the way, we were impressed by the beautiful Boulder Range:
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Redfish Lake with the Sawtooths in the backdrop:
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And the Boulders again on the way home:
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Stay tuned and good birding!
Henry
World Life List: 951 Species

Posted by skwclar 13:54 Archived in USA Comments (0)

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