Thursday, July 11, 2013

Foote Park, Indian Creek Reservoir, Mayfield Loop, and Spring Shores Marina

On the first day of June we spent the day catching up on Ada County birds. For some reason this year there was an exceptionally strong movement of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers through the area. Looking at eBird data, there were 0 Ada County reports of Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher in 2009, only 1 each in 2010 and 2011, and just 3 in 2012.

BGGN 2012 Map

eBird map for Blue-gray Gnatcatcher reports in Ada county during 2012.

However, in 2013, there have been at least 23 separate reports so far.

BGGN 2013 Map

eBird map for Blue-gray Gnatcatcher reports in Ada county during 2013.

We wanted to get in on the action and spent the first part of the day focusing on the Boise foothills. Our first stop was Sandy Point Beach of Lucky Peak State Park. Immediately on the way in we saw Western Tanagers and Bullocks Orioles flitting around the bushes near the road, and as we neared the entrance fee station we heard our first of year Olive-sided Flycatcher giving its characteristic “quick-three-beers” call. After a quick loop around the parking lot, we heard our first of year Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher calling from the shrubs at the bottom slope of the dam.

Our next stop was Foote Park, just a short drive across the dam from Sandy Point. Right out of the car we heard an Olive-sided Flycatcher calling, and we were able to spot him on a conspicuous perch above the trail.

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Olive-sided Flycatcher at Foote Park, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

We were only a little ways into the park when we heard a Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher giving its buzzy call. It wouldn’t sit still for a picture, so we let it be. Later we had several Lesser Goldfinches around us, including one that was gathering nest materials.

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Lesser Goldfinch at Foote Park, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

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Lesser Goldfinch at Foote Park, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

Further up the trail we spotted a Cooper’s Hawk near its nest.

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Cooper’s Hawk at Foote Park, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

It was interesting to see how abruptly warbler migration had come to an end. We only had one migrant warbler, a Wilson’s, on this trip, while we had 5 locally breeding Yellow-breasted Chats. In total we had 30 species in 45 minutes.

The next stop of the day was a quick peek at Indian Creek Reservoir.  The highlight for this trip was a pair of Black Terns foraging high in the air over the far northern side of the reservoir.

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Black Tern at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

After Indian Creek Reservoir we headed out on the Mayfield loop. We have done this drive a couple of times, but recently discovered we were missing the leg of it that actually goes through the remainder of the historic town of Mayfield.

Mayfield Loop Map 1

The Mayfield loop, sans Mayfield. Ada and Elmore Counties. Waypoints indicate riparian corridors with denser vegetation.

The loop follows or traverses several different creeks, and at some points the roadside vegetation is dense enough to host a good variety of birds. Flycatchers stole the show on this trip, and we were able to photograph a Western Wood-pewee, a Willow Flycatcher, and an Eastern Kingbird. Another great find we weren’t able to photograph was a Cordilleran Flycatcher.

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Western Wood-pewee on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2013.

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Willow Flycatcher on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2013.

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Eastern Kingbird on the Mayfield Loop, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

At the end of the day we went for a quick paddle from the Spring Shores Marina at Lucky Peak State Park. We didn’t take binoculars or our camera, but had fun watching Spotted Towhees, Yellow Warblers, and Mountain Bluebirds call from the hillsides. We also saw Bullock’s Orioles and Western Kingbirds tending nests in the trees along the shore. Western Grebes and other waterfowl were swimming around the lake, and at one point a Mallard followed us around the lake for half a mile or so.

Marine Shores 1

Prepping the kayak for a paddle around Lucky Peak Lake, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

On the way out we spotted a Great Horned Owl perching atop one of the large orange power line balls near the Mores Creek bridge on Highway 21. It was fun to watch him bob to keep his head level as the wire underneath him swayed in the wind.

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Great horned Owl near Lucky Peak Lake, Ada County. June 1, 2013.

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