Monday, May 11, 2015

Black-backed Woodpecker near Fall Creek and a few goodies on the way

In mid-April we took a trip up to the Fall Creek area (at the foot of the Trinity Mountains) to see if we could relocate any of the Black-backed Woodpeckers we found in the area last year. We took our time getting up there, stopping at several places along the way. The first stop of the day was Indian Creek Reservoir, where we found this early Brewer’s Sparrow, our first-of-year. These guys are quite common on the sagebrush throughout the summer, but this one showed up a little earlier than most.

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Brewer’s Sparrow at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. April 11, 2015.

From there we took the Mayfield Loop and the Oregon Trail Byway to get to Mountain Home. These roads take you through lots more sagebrush, and we had a couple more good sagebrush/desert finds out there as well, including our first-of-year Loggerhead Shrike, and a Ferruginous Hawk.

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Loggerhead Shrike on the Mayfield Loop, Ada County. April 11, 2015.

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Ferruginous Hawk on the Mayfield Loop, Ada County. April 11, 2015.

Eventually we made it up to our target area for the Black-backed Woodpeckers, a huge expanse of charred timber left behind by the Elk Complex fire of 2013. We focused our search near the intersection of House Mountain Road (which heads towards the Trinities from Prairie), Fall Creek Road (which cuts towards the trinities from Anderson Ranch Reservoir), and Trinity Mountain Road (that leads straight up to the Trinities from the south side) since this is where we had seen one last year. The dotted line in the map below shows the two mile section we spent the most time on.

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Google map of our Black-backed Woodpecker search.

After a while searching the area and not finding anything, it started to rain, and we were losing optimism. We started to head out, but still drove very slowly, just in case, and sure enough, right at the last minute before we were going to zip away, I heard a characteristic pik call from just behind us. I got out of the car (in the rain) and started looking around for the source of the sound.

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Fall Creek Road (and our Black-backed Woodpecker location), Elmore County. April 11, 2015.

A few more pik notes from the bird aided by echolocation, and I soon had eyes on it. It was a little difficult to photograph, with the rain coming down on my lens (that probably wasn’t good for the camera), but I did get a few shots.

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Black-backed Woodpecker on Fall Creek Road, Elmore County. April 11, 2015.

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Black-backed Woodpecker on Fall Creek Road, Elmore County. April 11, 2015.

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Black-backed Woodpecker on Fall Creek Road, Elmore County. April 11, 2015.

After collecting about as much rain as I wanted to and about as many photos as I was going to be able to, we headed home via Fall Creek Road. On the way we spied this cool waterfall along the river and hopped out to take a look.

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Waterfall on Fall Creek Road, Elmore County. April 11, 2015.

Right at the bottom of the waterfall was a pair of American Dippers hanging out on a fallen tree. They’re not particularly rare, but always fun to find.

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American Dipper on Fall Creek, Elmore County. April 11, 2015.

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