Thursday, October 31, 2013

Slow day at Indian Creek and CJ Strike Reservoirs

For our last outing in July we made a loop down to the C.J. Strike area in Owyhee County. We stopped at Indian Creek Reservoir on the way out and back (point G on the map below), and then headed to the Jacks Creek WMA (point C), Bruneau Duck Ponds (point D), Bruneau Dunes State Park (point E), and the Hammett area (point F) before heading back home via Indian Creek Reservoir. Overall the birding was a little on the slow side, so we just enjoyed a few of the ordinary birds we might normally overlook.

ICR-CJ Map 1 Our route on July 28 – point C is Jacks Creek WMA, point D is the Bruneau Duck Ponds, point E is Bruneau Dunes State Park, point F is Hammett, and point G is Indian Creek Reservoir.

There were a few nice finds at Indian Creek on our first pass. First was this Solitary Sandpiper, posing nicely for us on our way in.

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Solitary Sandpiper at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

There was also a nice group of White-faced Ibis, including a good mix of juveniles and adults. It’s good to get practice picking the juveniles out from the adults, since every now and then a juvenile White-faced can look a lot like a Glossy, which would be a much better find in Idaho.

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White-faced Ibis at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

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White-faced Ibis at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

Of course the usual Killdeer were abundant as well.

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White-faced Ibis and Killdeer at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

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Killdeer at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

At Jacks Creek we found lots of Caspian Terns and Marbled Godwits out on the sand bars.

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Caspian Terns and Ring-billed Gulls at Jacks Creek WMA, Owyhee County. July 28, 2013.

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Marbled Godwits, Caspian Terns, and Ring-billed Gulls at Jacks Creek WMA, Owyhee County. July 28, 2013.

Further back into the reeds we saw a Great Egret.

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Great Egret at Jacks Creek WMA, Owyhee County. July 28, 2013.

At the Bruneau Duck Ponds things were pretty slow, but there was one area with a handful of American Avocets.

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Canada Geese, Mallards, American Avocets, and Ring-billed Gull at the Bruneau Duck Ponds, Owyhee County. July 28, 2013.

Next stop was Bruneau Dunes  State Park. Again, very low bird activity here. There were a few Ring-necked Ducks, and a few American Coots, and that was about it.

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Bruneau Dunes State Park. See all the birds? Neither do I. Owyhee County, July 28, 2013.

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Ring-necked Ducks (adult female and hatch-year juveniles) at Bruneau Dunes State Park, Owyhee County. July 28, 2013.

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American Coot at Bruneau Dunes State Park, Owyhee County. July 28, 2013.

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American Coot at Bruneau Dunes State Park, Owyhee County. July 28, 2013.

After Bruneau Dunes State Park we headed over to the Hammett area to get on the highway and head back home. On the way we saw a couple of Eastern Kingbirds, a flock of Horned Larks with several juveniles, and a Lark Sparrow.

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Eastern Kingbirds near Hammett, Elmore County. July 28, 2013.

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Eastern Kingbird near Hammett, Elmore County. July 28, 2013.

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Horned Lark (juvenile) near Hammett, Elmore County. July 28, 2013.

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Horned Lark (juvenile) near Hammett, Elmore County. July 28, 2013.

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Lark Sparrow near Hammett, Elmore County. July 28, 2013.

The highlight of the day was probably the second trip through Indian Creek Reservoir. Upon arriving again on our way home we found that the place was swarmed by Common Nighthawks. We saw dozens in the skies, and quite a few perched near the roadway. It was quite a treat to get to see some of them up close.

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Common Nighthawk at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

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Common Nighthawk at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

We walked around the northern perimeter of the reservoir as well. Here we mostly just found Wilson’s Phalaropes, plus a Long-billed Dowitcher.

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Wilson’s Phalarope at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

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Wilson’s Phalaropes at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

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Long-billed Dowitcher at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

One thing we really got a kick out of was watching the phalaropes hopping up and down to fetch flies right out of the air. I’ve never seen them forage this way before. They usually swim in tight circles to form a vortex in the water which draws insects up to the surface. Take a look at the video below.

Wilson’s Phalaropes foraging at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

We seem to find ourselves out at Indian Creek around sunset time quite frequently. It’s so easy to just add one more stop on the way home anytime we’re out that direction from town. The sunset is always beautiful out here.

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Sunset at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. July 28, 2013.

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