Monday, July 8, 2013

Birding with family in southeast Idaho

When we visit Rexburg we usually spend most of our time with family, but occasionally we manage to sneak away or take some of them with us to chase birds. It’s always tempting to spend more time birding when we’re there, because southeast Idaho has a number of specialties that are much easier to find there than in southwest Idaho. Luckily my younger brother is quite an outdoorsman so he’s always up for a drive to the woods. He’s a hunter, and knows several places that are usually reliable for Ruffed Grouse. On our first day there, we asked him to take us up to some of his spots on the Ashton Hill and Targhee National Forest.
Grouse spot 1
My brother helping us find Ruffed Grouse in Targhee National Forest, Fremont County. May 25, 2013.
Despite a half-day of searching, we were not able to find any Ruffed Grouse. For some reason these birds that are supposed to be relatively abundant have become quite the nemesis bird for us. We did, however, find a supposedly much less common Dusky Grouse.
DUGR 1
Dusky Grouse in Targhee National Forest, Fremont County. May 25, 2013.
Other finds for the day included Lincoln’s Sparrow, Hairy Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsucker, and Hammond’s Flycatcher, among others.
LISP 1
Lincoln Sparrow in Targhee National Forest, Fremont County. May 25, 2013.
HAWO 1
Hairy Woodpecker in Targhee National Forest, Fremont County. May 25, 2013.
RNSA 3
Red-naped Sapsucker in Targhee National Forest, Fremont County. May 25, 2013.
HAFL 1
Hammond’s Flycatcher in Targhee National Forest, Fremont County. May 25, 2013.
Our second day in town we did not have as much time dedicated to birding, but we did sneak away for a half hour or so at Cartier Slough WMA. My brother hunts and traps in this area, and has told me about small owls he’s seen here (likely Northern Saw-Whet Owls). We drove out one night earlier in the year and had a small owl fly over, but I was never able to get a good look. This trip was a quick day-time visit, and the birding was great. We finally got our first of year Black-headed Grosbeaks (seems like everybody else saw their firsts a couple weeks earlier), a family of baby Killdeers, and a couple of Eastern Kingbirds, to name just a few.
BHGR 1
Black-headed Grosbeak at Cartier Slough WMA, Madison County. May 26, 2013.
KILL 1
Killdeer at Cartier Slough WMA, Madison County. May 26, 2013.
Baby Killdeer at Cartier Slough WMA, Madison County. May 26, 2013.
EAKI 1
Eastern Kingbird at Cartier Slough WMA, Madison County. May 26, 2013.
On Memorial Day we took my mom and younger brother out to Warm Slough for a short walk. In this past winter other birders had seen 5 Great Gray Owls hunting in the fields nearby, and we tried but were unable to relocate them. There wasn’t a lot to see on this trip, but it’s always fun to be able to share a little bit of our hobby with family.
Warm Slough 1
My mom and younger brother with me and Ellen (taking the picture) at Warm Slough, Madison County. May 27, 2013.
YEWA 1
Yellow Warbler at Warm Slough, Madison County. May 27, 2013.
At the end of the day we headed up to a little clearing in the Big Hole Mountains southeast of Rexburg for a campfire and s’mores with the family. They were kind enough to tolerate my noise as I tried to call in some owls. A Great-horned Owl didn’t take much coaxing to put on a show on top of a tree near our site, and it was fun to see it glide above our campsite a time or two. We also heard a Northern Saw-whet Owl out in the distance, and Common Poorwills were feeding along the hill behind us.
Smore
Eating s’mores in the Big Hole Mountains, Madison County. May 27, 2013.
GHOW 6
Great-horned Owl above our campfire in the Big Hole Mountains, Madison County. May 27, 2013.

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