Sunday, May 17, 2015

Odds and ends from the first half of May

During the first half of May we squeezed in a few extra weekday outings to keep up with spring migration. On May 6, I actually took the whole day off work, and started off the morning at Hulls Gulch, then headed to the Kuna Sewage Ponds (to be featured in a later post), and then finished off the afternoon near Robie Creek.

At Hulls Gulch, we had lots of nice birds, but no where near the volume we had the same time last year. It was also kind of overcast, so it was tough to get pictures, but we were able to get a shot of our first-of-year Yellow-breasted Chat, and a Bullock’s Oriole.

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Yellow-breasted Chat at Hulls Gulch, Ada County. May 6, 2015.

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Bullock’s Oriole at Hulls Gulch, Ada County. May 6, 2015.

Our next stop was the Kuna Sewage Ponds, but we went there several times in the first half of May, and I’ll post about all of those trips together in a couple of days. In the afternoon while Nora napped we took a drive up Rocky Canyon Road and over towards Robie Creek. We found a little spot on the back side of the summit with a nice wide pullout in the trees where we were hearing lots of bird song. Nora recently graduated to a forward facing seat, which makes her much happier in the car most of the time, but it does make it more difficult for her to nap in the car, and she wakes up easier than she used to as well. Every little bump or curve in the road is a chance she might get jostled awake. We figured if we just parked we might be able to extend the nap a bit longer. We rolled down the windows and listened for a while, and started getting a pretty good list together.

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Rocky Canyon Road, Boise County. May 6, 2015.

At this time of the year, Yellow Warblers are almost inescapable. We had lots of them zipping around the trees near our parking spot.

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Yellow Warbler on Rocky Canyon Road, Boise County. May 6, 2015.

The first bird we heard as we rolled up to our spot was actually a Cassin’s Vireo. After watching one zip around our car for several minutes we finally got one that landed in clear view, and we were able to get our first pictures of a Cassin’s Vireo. We hear these guys much more often than we see them.

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Cassin’s Vireo at Rocky Canyon Road, Boise County. May 6, 2015.

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Cassin’s Vireo at Rocky Canyon Road, Boise County. May 6, 2015.

Another highlight was this Nashville Warbler. The photos below show just a bit of the brown crown that the western variety has. We usually don’t get a good enough look to see this feature.

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Nashville Warbler at Rocky Canyon Road, Boise County. May 6, 2015.

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Nashville Warbler at Rocky Canyon Road, Boise County. May 6, 2015.

A few days later we took a quick morning trip out to Indian Creek Reservoir. It was surprisingly slow for this time of the year, but the water level was quite low, so that wasn’t helping. We did see a handful of Brown-headed Cowbirds, living up to their name.

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Brown-headed Cowbird (on a cow) at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. May 11, 2015.

On the way out, we had a Western Kingbird that was surprisingly tolerant of our proximity as we drove by.

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Western Kingbird at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. May 11, 2015.

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Western Kingbird at Indian Creek Reservoir, Ada County. May 11, 2015.

On another morning we headed over to Marianne Williams Park to look for a Barn Owl that someone else had reported. We never laid eyes on it, but we did find the spot where it was last seen, and heard some juvenile begging calls from somewhere in the nearby cottonwoods. I thought this Great Blue Heron looked statuesque perched on the railing near a gazebo.

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Great Blue Heron at Marianne Williams Park, Ada County. May 12, 2015.

A nearby pond had this momma Wood Duck and her ducklings.

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Wood Duck hen and ducklings at Marianne Williams Park, Ada County. May 12, 2015.

The next day we went for an evening walk at Discovery Park. It was quite birdy, probably the best we’ve seen there yet this year. However, most of the new migrants like to hang out up in the trees where they’re well concealed by the fresh foliage, so we heard much more than we saw. This Yellow Warbler didn’t mind posing though.

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Yellow Warbler at Discovery Park, Ada County. May 13, 2015.

Lately Nora has been getting more and more interested in mimicking what we’re doing while we’re out birding. On this outing, she insisted on having a pair of binoculars all her own. Our 10X50’s are definitely too big for this little kiddo, but she was thrilled to have them and play along. Pretty soon we’ll need to actually get her own list going!

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Nora at Discovery Park, Ada County. May 13, 2015.

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