Saturday, May 23, 2015

Kicking off our Memorial Day Weekend in Valley County

Over the past couple of years we’ve started an annual tradition of spending Memorial Day weekend in Valley County, using Tamarack Resort (near Donnelly) as our base camp and exploring Long Valley and the surrounding mountains for a few days. We just started this year’s trip yesterday, and so far things are off to a great start. Here’s our route so far: starting from Boise we headed up to Porter Creek Road, just north of Horseshoe Bend to see if the Red-eyed Vireo is back yet this year (it wasn’t), then we stopped at the Banks Café to see if they were having good numbers of hummingbirds right now (they weren’t), then we zipped over to Garden Valley to see if the Bobolinks had arrived het (they hadn’t), then we cruised up Highway 55 to Round Valley, and then finished our trip to Tamarack Resort via West Mountain Road that skirts the western edge of Lake Cascade.

Map

Our route on day 1 of our trip.

We’ve had rain on and off for the past week or two, and yesterday was the same. We had occasional patches of bright sunshine through the dark clouds, and occasional downpours and lightning storms. The stormy weather made for some dramatic skies.

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Garden Valley, Boise County. May 22, 2015.

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Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

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Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

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Snowbank Mountain from West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

In Garden Valley, our best bird was this Eastern Kingbird, just our second this year, and the first we’ve photographed this year.

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Eastern Kingbird near Garden Valley, Boise County. May 23, 2015.

In Round Valley, our most unusual bird was this Sage Thrasher. There wasn’t any sagebrush in sight, so I’m not sure what this guy was doing out here in the grass!

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Sage Thrasher in Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

Savannah Sparrows were all over the place, as were swallows, most of which were Tree (including the pair pictured below getting down to business), but there was also a handful of Cliff and Barn Swallows.

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Savannah Sparrow in Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

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Tree Swallows in Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

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Tree Swallows in Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

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Tree Swallows in Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

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Cliff Swallow in Round Valley, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

On West Mountain Road we had loads of good birds in the woods along the road, but my favorite was the Townsend’s Warblers, present in pretty good numbers for pretty much the entire road.

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Townsend’s Warbler on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

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Townsend’s Warbler on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

We also had a Lincoln’s Sparrow, at pretty much the same spot as the one we found here last year. I’m sure they breed all along the lake edge, but for some reason this one was the easiest to find two years in a row.

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Lincoln’s Sparrow on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

Evening Grosbeaks were present in pretty good numbers too. We have never seemed to be able to find these birds as often as some others, but this year I think we’ve finally committed their call to memory and now we’re hearing their calls much more often than we recognized before.

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Evening Grosbeak on West Mountain Road, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

When we got to Tamarack Resort, we checked into our rental cabin for the weekend, and actually had a pretty decent list of birds just while unloading the car and getting settled in. I’m sure we’ll take more pictures of all the birds around our cabin over the rest of the weekend, but for now, we just photographed these Red Crossbills high on a treetop to confirm the ID.

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Red Crossbills near Tamarack Resort, Valley County. May 22, 2015.

It’s been a great start to our trip so far, and I can’t wait to see what else we’ll find this weekend!

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