Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Soras at Dry Lakes, Sagebrush Sparrow at Bachman Grade, and more

Last Friday after wrapping up our third trip this month to Kuna Sewage Ponds, we kind of just meandered around a few local hotspots for a while trying to figure out what was the best thing to do given the weather. We had planned to drive up to Silver City to look for Green-tailed Towhees and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, but it was pouring rain over the Owyhees, and we thought we’d have a better time if we avoiding getting stuck in the mud on a mountain.

Instead, we started off with the Dry Lakes area – an agricultural pond out south of Nampa that can occasionally attract some nice birds. As we were driving the edge of the pond, we heard a Sora calling from the reeds, and pulled over to keep an eye out. After a couple of minutes we had two Soras out in the open probably less than 5 feet from the car. They were so close it was hard to keep them in frame for a few photos!

IMG_5433

Soras at Dry Lakes, Canyon County. May 15, 2015.

IMG_5438

Soras at Dry Lakes, Canyon County. May 15, 2015.

IMG_5442

Soras at Dry Lakes, Canyon County. May 15, 2015.

IMG_5445

Soras at Dry Lakes, Canyon County. May 15, 2015.

We also had a pair of Redheads. It seems like we saw at least one pair on about every pond we drove past that afternoon. Yellow-headed Blackbirds were all over the place as well.

IMG_5460

Redheads at Dry Lakes, Canyon County. May 15, 2015.

IMG_5462

Yellow-headed Blackbird at Dry Lakes, Canyon County. May 15, 2015.

Next we headed out to Bachman Grade, a road that heads up into the Owyhees, hoping to see some sagebrush specialties while skirting the edge of the storm. We didn’t actually see very much, but in 30 minutes or so we actually heard quite a bit and got a fairly decent list together. The highlight was hearing a Black-throated Sparrow, which is known to breed not too far away on Mud Flat Road, but is otherwise quite rare in Idaho. The sagebrush was quite pretty that day, with wildflowers blooming and clouds hugging the Owyhees in the background.

IMG_5485

Owyhees from Bachman Grade Road, Owyhee County. May 15, 2015.

One of the birds we encounter less frequently (but is likely fairly abundant in Owyhee county) that we actually laid eyes on was this Sagebrush Sparrow, with a bit of food in its beak.

IMG_5473

Sagebrush Sparrow on Bachman Grade Road, Owyhee County. May 15, 2015.

After the Bachman Grade, we continued on down highway 78 until we got to Grandview, where we turned north to head back home via Simco Road. As we were passing through Grandview, we found a fairly large group of White-faced Ibis feeding in a flooded field just west of the big Simplot feed lots.

IMG_5503

White-faced Ibis near Grandview, Elmore County. May 15, 2015.

We could see a couple of all white egrets way off in the back of the field. The distance and the cloudy day combined to make a pretty soft image, but here’s one of what turned out to be two Snowy Egrets, our first-of-year.

IMG_5514

White-faced Ibis near Grandview, Elmore County. May 15, 2015.

With so many ibis all together, we decided to pull off the road next to them and scan the flock for a Glossy Ibis. They’re quite rare, but becoming less so in Idaho and other states away from the Glossy’s historical range. These birds are experiencing a range expansion and are showing up more and more often in southeast Idaho, though I’m not sure that any have been found in southwest Idaho yet. We figured nobody would find one if nobody was looking, so we put in some time scanning the flock. We never found one, but did enjoy watching several of the birds do this neat wing stretch thing where they would raise both wings high over their head, and sort of lean or shimmy back and forth a few times before relaxing them again.

IMG_5530

White-faced Ibis near Grandview, Elmore County. May 15, 2015.

At times you could see several birds doing the same routine all at once. Quite fascinating, though I don’t know exactly what the behavior is all about.

IMG_5553

White-faced Ibis (and an American Avocet) near Grandview, Elmore County. May 15, 2015.

Our last stop of the day was Foote Park. We were getting sick of the car and wanted to get out, and hadn’t been to Foote Park in a while, so we went for a hike up the gulch. We didn’t really find anything rare, but there were lots of the usual migrants. Most were heard only or just brief glimpses, but this Dusky Flycatcher and Black-headed Grosbeaks stay put long enough for pictures.

IMG_5624

Dusky Flycatcher at Foote Park, Ada County. May 15, 2015.

IMG_5629

Dusky Flycatcher at Foote Park, Ada County. May 15, 2015.

IMG_5665

Black-headed Grosbeak at Foote Park, Ada County. May 15, 2015.

No comments:

Post a Comment