Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Early migrants to Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh

In mid-April we took another trip to Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh. It was still a bit early for many of the species that will spend the summer here, but the action was definitely starting to pick up. We particularly enjoyed all of the willets using the area. Here’s your interesting Willet fact for the day, courtesy of The Cornell Lab of Ornithology’s All About Birds website:

“Willets and other shorebirds were once a popular food. In his famous Birds of America accounts, John James Audubon wrote that Willet eggs were tasty and the young “grow rapidly, become fat and juicy, and by the time they are able to fly, afford excellent food.” By the early 1900s, Willets had almost vanished north of Virginia. The Migratory Bird Treaty Act of 1918 banned market hunting and marked the start of the Willet’s comeback.”

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Willet at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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Willet at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

Here are a couple of shots from a wing stretch that show the distinctive markings under the wing. The flashes of black and white as they fly around often make them one of the easier shorebirds to identify at long distances.

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Willet at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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Willet at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

We also had decent numbers of yellowlegs (both Greater and Lesser), a handful of Wilson’s Snipes, and a pair of Long-billed Curlews. Both species of yellowlegs breed north of here in Canada, so these birds are likely just passing through, but the Wilson’s Snipes and the Long-billed Curlews are probably staying put.

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Greater Yellowlegs at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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Wilson’s Snipe at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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Long-billed Curlew at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

Our most common passerine of the day were Vesper Sparrows. We had one stretch of the road around the marsh where we could see a couple dozen close by. They were on fence posts, barbed wire, in the ditches, on the road, and spread out in the nearby sagebrush.

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Vesper Sparrow at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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Vesper Sparrow at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

The last bird we photographed is a more common species, but one that we have a difficult time photographing. American Kestrels can easily be found in a variety of habitats throughout Idaho, but in our experience they flush much quicker than most raptors when you try to slow down and take their picture as you pass by. This particular bird, however, was quite patient with us, and let us approach fairly closely. We took advantage of the opportunity to try to improve our portfolio of American Kestrel photos.

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American Kestrel at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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American Kestrel at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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American Kestrel at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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American Kestrel at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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American Kestrel at Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh, Camas County. April 19, 2015.

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