Sunday, April 5, 2015

Fall migrants along the Boise Ridge

At the end of September we headed up to Shafer Butte for a nice cool fall hike in the mountains. We weren’t sure where we wanted to hike when we set out, but settled on trail #198 – Mores Mountain Bike Trail.

Map

Google map of our hike from Shafer Butte.

We had just read an article by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology discussing recent research that describes how passerine migrants follow areas of new plant growth for their spring migration route, and take a more direct route at higher elevations for their fall migration route:

“Migratory songbirds enjoy the best of both worlds—food-rich summers and balmy winters—but they pay for it with a tough commute. Their twice-a-year migrations span thousands of miles and are the most dangerous, physically demanding parts of their year.

Surprisingly, for many North American species the best route between summer and winter homes is not a straight line, according to new research published in the Proceedings of the Royal Society B. In spring, the study shows, birds follow areas of new plant growth—a so-called “green wave” of new leaves and numerous insects. In fall, particularly in the western U.S., they stick to higher elevations and head directly southward, making fewer detours along the way for food.”

When we got up to the Bogus Basin ski area the bird numbers seemed to bear out this idea of migration. Bird numbers were way higher than we’d seen in that area before, with many of them obviously migrating through. Near one of the parking areas, we had several trees full of mixed finches, including Cassin’s Finches and Pine Siskins.

IMG_8822

Cassin’s Finches and Pine Siskins near Bogus Basin Ski Area, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

Also nearby were several Steller’s Jays, always a fun find!

IMG_8827

Steller’s Jay near Bogus Basin Ski Area, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

IMG_8833

Steller’s Jay near Bogus Basin Ski Area, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

IMG_8834

Steller’s Jay near Bogus Basin Ski Area, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

It was a foggy day on the peak, which cut down visibility a bit, but it also added a nice cool element to the atmosphere.

20140927_110321

Shafer Butte, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

20140927_110532

Shafer Butte shrouded in fog, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

When we got started down the trail, we had loads of Ruby-crowned Kinglets. Several different berry patches had several kinglets each. They’re so quick they are difficult to photograph, but we still gave it a try.

IMG_8855

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Mores Mountain Bike Trail, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

IMG_8864

Ruby-crowned Kinglet at Mores Mountain Bike Trail, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

The views of the valley from the trail were fantastic, with several layers of mountain ridges stretching out in the back, with windy roads in front of that, and rocky outcroppings near the trail.

20140927_125047

Views from Mores Mountain Bike Trail, Boise County. September 27, 2014. 

IMG_8872

Views from Mores Mountain Bike Trail, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

One of our better finds for this hike was a lone Fox Sparrow. They’re not too uncommon, but we hadn’t seen quite as many as some others had that summer, so it was nice to get a good look!

IMG_8904

Fox Sparrow at Mores Mountain Bike Trail, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

White-crowned Sparrows were also present in pretty good numbers, with lots of juveniles in the mix learning the route for the first time this year.

IMG_8918

White-crowned Sparrow at Shafer Butte, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

At the end of the hike we took a break near the parking area, when we started hearing a Pileated Woodpecker call from a little ways off. We kept an eye on that direction, and after a bit we saw the woodpecker swoop up to a snag nearby! This is very near the southern end of their range in Idaho, and they’re a fun bird to find no matter where you are.

IMG_8955

Pileated Woodpecker at Shafer Butte, Boise County. September 27, 2014.

In total we had 22 species in just over 2 hours. Click here to check out our full list on eBird.

No comments:

Post a Comment