Saturday, April 11, 2015

One very cold Killdeer

In mid-November there wasn’t a lot going on, and with a fresh batch of snow on the ground we didn’t want to travel too far, so we kind of just puttered around a few local hotspots, hoping to get lucky and stumble upon a rare winter gull, sparrow, or duck. We started off at the Optimist Youth Sports Complex in Eagle, which sometimes has a few good gulls at it. It’s just over the hill from Hidden Hollow Landfill, which is a major gull magnet for the Treasure Valley, and sometimes it seems like the gulls at the landfill fly back and forth between the landfill and the ponds at the Optimist Youth Sports Complex. If you’re lucky, you can track down some of the rare gulls that come through in the winter without having to go campout at the landfill.

On this trip, we were not quite so lucky. There were huge numbers of gulls to sort through, but they were pretty much all just Ring-billed and California Gulls, with perhaps 1-2 Herring Gulls mixed in as well. At least the high numbers kept us occupied trying to pick through them all for something out of the ordinary.

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Mixed gulls at Optimist Youth Sports Complex, Ada County. November 15, 2014.

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Mixed gulls at Optimist Youth Sports Complex, Ada County. November 15, 2014.

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Mixed gulls at Optimist Youth Sports Complex, Ada County. November 15, 2014.

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Mixed gulls at Optimist Youth Sports Complex, Ada County. November 15, 2014.

One fun find while we were there was this surprise Killdeer. I know a small handful of them never leave for the winter, but I always figured they found somewhere a little more free of snow to spend their time at. Apparently the snow isn’t a big deal to them.

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Killdeer at Optimist Youth Sports Complex, Ada County. November 15, 2014.

Our next stop was the West Boise Wastewater Treatment Plant, where we hoped to see if we could find any interesting ducks by scanning their ponds from a nearby road. We got distant looks at a Mute Swan, but it was too far to photograph. We did find this young Red-tailed Hawk preening and generally ignoring our presence.

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Red-tailed Hawk near West Boise Wastewater Treatment Plant, Ada County. November 15, 2014.

A quick stop at Kathryn Albertson Park turned up a few Wood Ducks, but not anything out of the ordinary.

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Wood Ducks at Kathryn Albertson Park, Ada County. November 15, 2014.

Later we swung by Spring Shores Marina and found a Hooded Merganser hanging out with a couple of Common Mergansers.

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Hooded and Common Mergansers at Spring Shores Marina, Boise County. November 15, 2014.

Overall a pretty slow day, but it was fun to find a Killdeer up to its neck in snow, and the Hooded Merganser was a pretty good find for Spring Shores.

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