Wednesday, January 23, 2013

My favorite patch: Boise River Greenbelt near Diversion Dam

When I started birding one of the first patches that I really tried to make my own was a stretch of the Boise River Greenbelt between the highway 21 bridge and Diversion Dam.

Boise River Greenbelt, Hwy 21 bridge to Diversion Dam. Ada County.
There are a lot of things that make this patch a great place to bird. It follows a portion of the river that has both quick moving sections (great for dippers) and slower wider sections (great for ducks). The canyon walls and rock piles at their bases provide great habitat for Canyon Wren and Rock Wren. The riparian corridor that follows the river is excellent for a fair number of passerines, and a few chunkier birds like California Quail and Wild Turkey. It's a great area for raptors as well, with Golden Eagles nesting in the cliffs, and Bald Eagles making laps up and down the river in the winter. There is one house along the path, and luckily they maintain quite a few feeders in their back yard which always brings in a great mix of songbirds.

This patch was one of the places that made me fall in love with birding. The surroundings are beautiful, the air is full of birdsong, and the quick walk to the dam and back gets the endorphins flowing. We weren't able to find anything in Denver that could quite replace it, so we were thrilled to spend time at here again now that we're back in Boise. Our first trip back didn't disappoint.

Right off the bat this White-crowned Sparrow struck a pose:
White-crowned Sparrow. Our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
We caught this Song Sparrow on his perch as well:
Song Sparrow. Out patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
We had heard just a couple weeks before we moved back that there was an American Dipper lingering around the dam. We were hoping the dipper would hang around until we got back to check for it, since this would be a new bird for our patch list and our Ada County list. Luckily we found the dipper without any trouble, and to our delight, we actually found a second dipper as well.

American Dipper. Our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
Here we are enjoying our first trip since the move back. You can see the Diversion Dam and the canyon walls behind us. The Dipper would be on the river directly behind us.

Stoddard and Ellen (hey that's us!) on our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
Here's the view upstream from the dam:
Looking upstream from our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
The highlight of the trip was probably our encounter with a beautiful little Canyon Wren. Canyon Wren are very reliable at this location. We've heard them on nearly every visit. Their distinctive call is easy to identify, so there's no need to lay on these guys to clinch the ID. In fact, despite the dozens of times we've listed Canyon Wrens, this was the first time we've actually seen one. Looking straight down to the ground beneath the dam, we spotted this guy foraging in the rocks and and giving little chip notes every minute or so.

Canyon Wren. Our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
Maybe it was due to the cold snap we've been in, but this little guy was more bold around us than most birds we've ever seen. He seemed to completely ignore our presence and foraged within just a few feet of where we were standing. We enjoyed watching him check for spiders underneath the rail along the top of the dam.

Canyon Wren. Our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
On our way back to the car we saw this American Kestrel keeping an eye out for something tasty.

American Kestrel. Our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
We paused for a moment to enjoy this brilliantly colored Downy Woodpecker.

Downy Woodpecker. Our patch at Diversion Dam, Ada County. January 5, 2013.
In total we say 29 species in just over an hour. Nine of those birds were new to our patch list, and four of them were also new to our county list. We can't wait to re-visit this wonderful patch all year long!

2 comments:

  1. Dang! Those Canyon Wren shots are tack sharp! Nice work. There is little else so sustain a soul better (other than a loving spouse and warm soup) than a local birding patch.

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  2. Thanks, Laurence! My wife was the photographer for most of these shots.

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