Saturday, February 1, 2014

Merlin in our neighborhood and Red-necked Grebe at Lucky Peak

Merlins breed across most of Canada and Alaska, and winter throughout much of the lower 48. They usually start showing up in Ada County sometime around September, with numbers increasing through the end of the year, and then slowly winding back down until April.

Merlin Bar Chart

eBird bar chart for Merlin in Ada County, Idaho.

We are lucky enough to have a Merlin return to our neighborhood each year, where it likes to perch and watch for prey from on top of power poles. These conspicuous perches provide easy viewing opportunities so we usually at least catch a glimpse of it almost every time we leave the house in the winter.

MERL 1

Merlin in our neighborhood, Ada County. November 9, 2013.

Not too far away we had another good find just above Lucky Peak Dam. Red-necked Grebes pass through southern Idaho in low numbers during both spring and fall migrations, but October is probably the best month to find them near Boise. There’s only been one report near Lucky Peak Dam in the past, but I suspect that’s just because Lucky Peak is under birded. Red-necked Grebes like shallow lakes and the water levels at Lucky Peak are particularly low this season, so we had been checking for them at Lucky Peak off and on since late September, and found one on November 9.

RNGR 1

Red-necked Grebe near Lucky Peak Dam, Ada County. November 9, 2013.

The conditions weren’t great for taking pictures, but they were at least good enough to make out the red on the back of the neck and the yellow bill.

RNGR 2

Red-necked Grebe near Lucky Peak Dam, Ada County. November 9, 2013.

RNGR 3

Red-necked Grebe near Lucky Peak Dam, Ada County. November 9, 2013.

The next day we enjoyed a few ordinary birds at Barber Park. Barber Park is a nice close-to-home spot that we don’t enjoy quite often enough. It’s also the usual put-in for rafters enjoying a float on the Boise River during the summer months.

Barber Park Pano 1

Barber Park, Ada County. November 10, 2013.

American Kestrels and Northern Flickers are abundant year round.

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American Kestrel at Barber Park, Ada County. November 10, 2013.

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American Kestrel at Barber Park, Ada County. November 10, 2013.

The park is full of little trails that wind throughout the small patch of woods between the parking area and the river. A boardwalk out of the woods to the rivers edge provides great viewing of the river.

Barber Park 1

Boardwalk in Barber Park, Ada County. November 10, 2013.

From the boardwalk we saw a Common Merganser and a Great Blue Heron, doing their respective things.

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Common Merganser at Barber Park, Ada County. November 10, 2013.

GBHE 1

Great Blue Heron at Barber Park, Ada County. November 10, 2013.

The river is wide and slow here, and from the boardwalk you can get a great view of Boise’s foothills to the north.

Barber Park Pano 2

View of the Boise foothills from Barber Park, Ada County. November 10, 2013.

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