Saturday, June 21, 2014

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Twisted Spring Trail in Avimor

On May 17 we spent the first half of the day out at Silver City, and when we got back to town we still had some daylight left so we headed over to Avimor to look for a few of their specialties. Avimor is a planned community in the foothills north of Eagle along Highway 55, and it just happens to have several resident birders, so I suspect that some of the unique birds that are found regularly at Avimor might actually be more widespread in the foothills than realized, it’s just that there’s no where else with the same concentration of birders that might find them and get the word out.

On this particular trip our targets included Blue-gray Gnatcatchers that have been seen on Twisted Spring Trail, Bewick’s Wrens that are seen several different places in the area, and Grasshopper Sparrows that have been seen at Burnt Car Draw. Click here for a map of trails in the Avimor area.

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Twisted Spring Trail near Avimor, Ada County. May 17, 2014.

Near the trailhead for Twisted Spring Trail there’s a shallow pond with a resident (and well photographed) Cinnamon Teal. This fellow’s picture has shown up on the Idaho Facebook Birding page more times this spring than perhaps any other Cinnamon Teal, thanks to all the people that have been out to Avimor to look for birds.

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Cinnamon Teal near the Twisted Spring Trailhead, Ada County. May 17, 2014.

Among the 33 species we recorded on our nearly 2 hours in this area were several Black-headed Grosbeaks, lots of Yellow Warblers, and a couple of Black-chinned Hummingbirds, to name just a few.

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Black-headed Grosbeak at Twisted Spring Trail, Ada County. May 17, 2014.

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Yellow Warbler at Twisted Spring Trail, Ada County. May 17, 2014.

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Black-chinned Hummingbird at Twisted Spring Trail, Ada County. May 17, 2014.

The highlight was finding our Blue-gray Gnatcatcher. These guys were all over the foothills last spring, but it’s been a much slower year for them this year. Hulls Gulch has had one or two with some regularity, and there are several at Avimor (probably nesting, as they did last year), but not much else close to Boise.

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Blue-gray Gnatcatcher at Twisted Spring Trail, Ada County. May 17, 2014.

After our hike at Twisted Spring Trail we headed over to Burnt Car Draw. We hiked up the trail a couple of miles looking for Grasshopper Sparrows that have been regular there for a few years, but didn’t find them on the way up. As frequently happens, we ended up finding them on the way back, when we were almost back to the trailhead. The light was fading and they were too flighty to get pictures, but we were at least glad to get a few glimpses, just enough to confirm the ID.

Before we left for the day we parked near the Spring Valley Creek Greenbelt to feed Nora and see what we could see or hear from the car. While parked we heard a Bewick’s Wren calling from a little ways down the trail. The light was too dim and we were too beat from several other hikes earlier in the day to try to chase them down for a photo, so we just let them be. The most interesting experience from our pit stop was watching the pair of Swainson’s Hawks that were tending a nest near the top of a tree get harassed by over a dozen different song birds. They really seemed to be a magnet for those small birds, whom I’m sure were just interested in protecting their own nests. The Swainson’s Hawks really didn’t seem bothered by any of the feistier littler birds and just held their ground.

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Swainson’s Hawk near the Spring Valley Creek Greenbelt in Avimor, Ada County. May 17, 2014.

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