Monday, November 4, 2013

Mackay Reservoir and burn scars on the Prairie Loop

It happens every year, but it’s still a drag to get through the birding doldrums of July and August. In reviewing our photos and checklists from this part of the summer, it’s quite evident that the birds are fewer and further between, with very few out-of-the-ordinary birds to chase. We try to pass the time enjoying some of our other hobbies, like camping and spending time with friends. For the last weekend of August we headed over to the Mackay area in Custer County to go camping with some friends.

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Lost River Range near Mackay, Custer County. August 31, 2013.

We camped just downstream from the dam, and actually had a few fun birds in the campsite. Most of our birds were heard-only, but we did have a family of juvenile Gray Catbirds that were noisily begging their parents for food.

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Gray Catbird near Mackay Reservoir, Custer County. August 31, 2013.

The town of Mackay sits near quite a few old mining towns, and there is plenty of old equipment around the area to explore.

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Old mining equipment near Mackay, Custer County. August 31, 2013.

Mackay Reservoir had a nice muddy end we were hoping to find some shorebirds on, but unfortunately we didn’t pack our scope so we could get a good view.

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Mackay Reservoir, Custer County. August 31, 2013.

It was too bad we didn’t have the scope, since there were loads of birds out on the shallow end, just waiting to be ID’d. We had to let most of them go unidentified on this trip.

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Mixed birds on Mackay Reservoir, Custer County. August 31, 2013.

On the way home, we drove through the Prairie Loop to see how bad the damage looked after the recent Pony and Elk Complex fires. The damage was pretty intense. There were miles upon miles of charred landscape, with downed power lines and washed out slopes all over the place. We didn’t see many birds, except for a few Turkey Vultures on the way in.

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Turkey Vultures near Anderson Ranch Dam, Elmore County. August 31, 2013.

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Charred hillside near Anderson Ranch Dam, Elmore County. August 31, 2013.

Despite the burn scars which I’m sure will remain for a long time, there are still lots of fabulous views of the South Fork of the Boise River.

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South Fork of the Boise River, Elmore County. August 31, 2013.

Near the town of Prairie there’s a bluebird trail that’s been maintained for years by Al Larson. It will be interesting to see how next season’s bluebirds settle in with all the damage that has occurred. I believe Al is still trying to decide whether to try to repair the old trail, since many of the trees and fence posts he has relied on in the past were burned down. We did find a couple of bird boxes that seemed relatively unaffected.

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Bluebird box near Prairie, Elmore County. August 31, 2013.

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