Wednesday, April 8, 2015

Soggy Great Gray Owls plus a Pacific Loon at Lake Cascade

Towards the end of October Ellen and I went up to Lake Cascade to look for the Pacific Loon and Davis Reservoir to find the Surf Scoters that others had found earlier in the month. We had some spare time to look for the Great Gray Owls again while we were in the area. We found two juveniles at one location and one adult at another location about a mile away without much difficulty. We were hoping to see them hunting but with this morning's rain they mostly just stayed put and preened. We did get some fun views from not too far away, though the lighting wasn’t the best.

Here’s one of the juveniles:

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Great Gray Owl on Gold Fork Road, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

The other juvenile was nearby, and was making a few funny voices as it quietly made its begging call.

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Great Gray Owl on Gold Fork Road, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

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Great Gray Owl on Gold Fork Road, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

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Great Gray Owl on Gold Fork Road, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

After enjoying the owls for awhile and realizing they weren’t about to do anything but sit there until the rain stopped, we moved on. On our way out, we spotted one of the adults at a different spot along the road. It was less sheltered than the others, and was soaking wet.

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Great Gray Owl on Gold Fork Road, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

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Great Gray Owl on Gold Fork Road, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

After a while the rain let up, and the owl took some time to get itself straightened out.

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Great Gray Owl on Gold Fork Road, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

We enjoyed all the goofy body postures, shaking, and wiggling involved with getting dried off.

Passing through Cascade we stopped for a minute to take a look at the view (and the pelicans) hanging out near the bridge near one of the outlets of Lake Cascade.

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Payette River near Cascade, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

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American White Pelicans on the Payette River near Cascade, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

We spent some time scanning Davis Reservoir hoping to re-find the Surf Scoters that others had reported there, but never tracked them down. While looking for a good vantage point we stumbled upon a little patch of woods that had a huge flock of Clark’s Nutcrackers moving through it, as well as a Hairy Woodpecker and several others.

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Clarks’ Nutcracker near Davis Reservoir, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

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Hairy Woodpecker near Davis Reservoir, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

Our last stop before heading back home was Lake Cascade. Our first few stops to scan the reservoir were unfruitful, so we took a break to just play with Nora and help her stay in a good mood.

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Lake Cascade, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

We’d pretty much given up on the loon, when we noticed a small dark bird slowly swimming up the shore not far from us. We hustled over to the beach to get a better look.

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Stoddard (me!) using Nora’s stroller as a temporary tripod at Lake Cascade, Valley County. October 24, 2014.

After getting dialed in on the bird we were pleased to find that it was our Pacific Loon! I would have loved to get closer to take better photos, but that little bird just kept on swimming, and swimming, and swimming! The beach was closed in several places as well, blocking our ability to keep up with it without getting back in our car and zipping up to the next vantage point every time it got ahead of us.

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Pacific Loon at Lake Cascade (best seen from the Sage Bluff Day Use Area), Valley County. October 24, 2014.

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