Sunday, January 27, 2013

Horned Grebes at Lucky Peak Lake

On Sunday, January 6, we made another short trip up the canyon to see what we could find in the Lucky Peak area. We were hoping to track down some Gray-crowned and Black Rosy-finches that are seen throughout the winter utilizing vacant swallow nests in the cliffs. No such luck on this trip (details later on what we were doing wrong). One of our first interesting birds was actually a Song Sparrow that was missing all of its tail feathers!

Song Sparrow, sans tail feathers! Lucky Peak SP - Discovery Unit, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
It's hard to tell from this view, but when he flew, it was quite obvious something was missing.

As we were scanning the cliffs for Rosy-finches, we heard the scream of a Red-tailed Hawk and turned to find this hawk chasing a Northern Flicker. First, we observed the chase from afar, but soon the flicker had reached a tree only 10 or so yards from where we were standing, and perhaps due to our proximity, the hawk gave up the chase.

Red-tailed Hawk. Lucky Peak SP - Discovery Unit, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
He kept on eye on the tree where the flicker landed, but when the flicker took off after a few minutes, the hawk did not pursue. Eventually he took off and soared above the canyon in search of another target.

Red-tailed Hawk. Lucky Peak SP - Discovery Unit, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
Next we headed up towards the dam, and just as we approached the turnoff to drive across the dam, a flock of pigeons exploded off the ground, with a Golden Eagle in hot pursuit.

Golden Eagle. Lucky Peak Dam, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
The pigeons escaped, and the Golden Eagle stopped to take a break.

Golden Eagle. Lucky Peak Dam, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
Across the dam we spent a few minutes at Foote Park. The resident Sharp-Shinned Hawk put in an appearance:

Sharp-shinned Hawk. Foote Park, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
A couple of American Goldfinches were feeding on our way back out.

American Goldfinches. Foote Park, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
As we crossed back over the dam, we saw a pair of Horned Grebes below the dam on the reservoir. The birds were quite distant so it was pretty rough trying to get decent photographs.

Horned Grebes. Lucky Peak Lake, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
Horned Grebes are not very common around here this time of the year. Here is eBird's bar chart for Horned Grebes in Ada county.

eBird bar chart for Horned Grebe in Ada County.
The Lucky Peak area was beautiful, with the frosting of ice and snow covering the landscape.

Lucky Peak Lake, Ada County. January 6, 2013.
Arrowrock Dam, Ada County. January 6, 2013.

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