Friday, March 13, 2015

Common Nighthawk hidden in plain sight on the Mayfield Loop

On June 1 we got our first of year Common Nighthawk in a quite unexpected location. Notice anything funny in the picture below?

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Common Nighthawk on road signage near Blacks Creek Road, Ada County. June 1, 2014.

That little lump on top of this sign caught our eye, and sure enough our double take confirmed we were looking at a Common Nighthawk, enjoying a most unusual daytime roost.

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Common Nighthawk on road signage near Blacks Creek Road, Ada County. June 1, 2014.

That oddball sighting seemed to be a good omen for our planned trip through the Mayfield Loop to look for some of the area specialties.

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Blacks Creek Road (and the start of the Mayfield Loop), Ada County. June 1, 2014.

Thank goodness for specialization! At first glance these arid habitats sure don’t seem like they’d support much life, but it seems every habitat is just right for something! Among the specialists found on this trip were Lark Sparrows, Sage Thrashers, Eastern Kingbirds, and Loggerhead Shrikes.

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Lark Sparrow on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

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Sage Thrasher on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

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Eastern Kingbird on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

I’m always hoping for better pictures of Loggerhead Shrikes. This one had a family in the area, but they’re such wary birds it’s awfully difficult to get in range for nice pictures. Maybe next time around the whole family will cooperate.

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Loggerhead Shrike on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

A few groves of trees along the loop increase the diversity. They provide shelter for a well camouflaged Great Horned Owl nestling, and excellent hunting perches for flycatchers.

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Great Horned Owl on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

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Western Kingbird on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

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Western Wood-pewee on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

Of course Red-tailed Hawks are hard to miss just about anywhere you go.

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Red-tailed Hawk on the Mayfield Loop, Elmore County. June 1, 2014.

We ended the Mayfield Loop at the Indian Creek exit off of I-84. Indian Creek Reservoir is nestled in right behind the Boise Stage Stop near the highway. We made a stop there as well before calling it a day. The place was loaded with birds as it usually is this time of the year. Shorebirds were well represented, including the Spotted Sandpipers, American Avocet, and Long-billed Dowitchers we were able to photograph.

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Spotted Sandpipers at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. June 1, 2014.

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American Avocet at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. June 1, 2014.

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Long-billed Dowitchers at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. June 1, 2014.

We caught this Ring-billed Gull with it’s mouth open, and on our way out saw a raccoon hanging out by the dam.

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Ring-billed Gull at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. June 1, 2014.

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Raccoon at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. June 1, 2014.

There were lots of other great birds as well. Check out our full checklist on eBird.

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