Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The early bird (or baby) gets the worm (or bird)

Nora has gotten into a habit of waking up before sunrise most days, and I’ve been taking advantage of the extra time with her before I have to get to work by going for early morning walks at nearby hotspots in town. Not every day has something out of the ordinary or exciting, but now and again we manage to find something out of the ordinary before I have to hustle back to work.

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Ellen and Nora at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

We had a string of good luck in mid-September, starting with a walk at Barber Park. When we arrived, the deer were still waking up and clearing away from the main trail as the sun was starting to break through the trees.

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Mule Deer at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

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Mule Deer at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

We had lots of woodpeckers, including Northern Flickers, Downy Woodpeckers and the best treat of the morning, a single Red-naped Sapsucker. This was our first Red-naped Sapsucker within town, so definitely a fun find.

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Northern Flicker at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

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Downy Woodpecker at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

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Red-naped Sapsucker at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

Along the river the Russian Olives were loaded with White-crowned Sparrows and Yellow-rumped Warblers, and the river banks had lots of Song Sparrows.

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White-crowned Sparrow at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

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Yellow-rumped Warbler at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

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Song Sparrow at Barber Park, Ada County. September 15, 2014.

The next day we headed over to Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve to try to track down a Clay-colored Sparrow that had been found there earlier in the week. There were tons of sparrows to pick through, and we found a few interesting ones, but no Clay-colored on this trip. Nora’s favorite was this Mallard hen.

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Nora enjoying a Mallard at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, Ada County. September 16, 2014.

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Mallard at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, Ada County. September 16, 2014.

White-crowned Sparrows were the most common, but we did catch a nice Lincoln’s Sparrow as well.

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White-crowned Sparrow at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, Ada County. September 16, 2014.

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White-crowned Sparrow at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, Ada County. September 16, 2014.

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Lincoln’s Sparrow at Hyatt Hidden Lakes Reserve, Ada County. September 16, 2014.

The next day we went for a quick walk closer to home along the greenbelt downstream from the Highway 21 bridge over the Boise River. This is near the site where the Intermountain Bird Observatory is hoping to build an education center at some point in the future, and includes the Barber Pools Conservation Area.

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Barber Pools Conservation Area, Ada County. September 17, 2014.

Highlights included a Spotted Towhee, a juvenile Chipping Sparrow.

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Spotted Towhee at the Barber Pools Conservation Area, Ada County. September 17, 2014.

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Chipping Sparrow at the Barber Pools Conservation Area, Ada County. September 17, 2014.

Another interesting bird was the one pictured below. I’m not quite sure to make of it. Based on size and shape, I’d guess it’s a Dark-eyed Junco, but the plumage isn’t quite right for any of the junco age, sex, or subspecies that I’m familiar with. If you have any thoughts, feel free to let me know in the comment box below! I’d sure love to put a name to this mystery bird, though I suspect it’s going to be an “oh duh!” moment when I finally realize what I’ve been staring at.

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Dark-eyed Junco (?) at the Barber Pools Conservation Area, Ada County. September 17, 2014.

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