Sunday, May 24, 2015

Rarity Roundup, May 2015

The past few weeks have seen some pretty incredible bird movements throughout Idaho, with the best variety and rarest birds showing up in southeast Idaho, predominantly at or near Market Lake, Camas NWR, and Mud Lake. While Ellen and I are thoroughly enjoying our Memorial Day weekend getaway to Tamarack Resort in Valley County, inside I’m twitching a little bit every time I check my email and see a new message about a rarity showing up in southeast Idaho! Normally this would have been a great weekend for us to zip over there and try to chase everything down, but we already had everything booked for Tamarack, so that wasn’t an option (or rather it would be a very expensive option) this time. I’m starting to wonder if we should move our annual cabin getaway to mid-June and just plan on camping out at one of our parents’ houses in Rexburg for the second half of May next year to make sure we can get in on the action!

Here’s a quick summary of the rarities reported over the past few weeks. More information on all of these can be found online via IBLE, eBird, and the two Facebook groups dedicated to Idaho birds (see below for more details on sources).

Northern Idaho:

  • Suspected UPLAND SANDPIPER found near Grangeville by Matt Dresser on 5/4 and 5/11
  • CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR found near Priest Lake by Bob and Georgene Bond on 5/20

Central Idaho:

  • PACIFIC LOON found near New Meadows by Fred Erland on 5/22

Southwest Idaho:

  • WHIMBREL found at Kuna Sewage Ponds found by Jason Talbot and Rob Mortensen on 5/14
  • NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH found at Mountain Home Air Force Base found by Carl Lundblad on 5/17

Southeast Idaho:

  • ACORN WOODPECKER in Swan Valley found by Rob Miller on 5/6
  • WHIMBRELS (11!) found near Mud Lake found by Darren Clark on 5/15
  • WHIMBRELS (2) found near Bear Lake found by Jesse and Junice Neubauer on 5/15
  • Suspected ICELAND GULL found near Mud Lake by Jethro Runco on 5/15
  • NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH found at Market Lake found by Steve Butterworth on 5/16
  • NORTHERN WATERTHRUSH found at Camas NWR found by Steve Butterworth, Pat Weber, Cheryl Huizinga on 5/22
  • ROSE-BREASTED GROSBEAK found near Inkom by Bill Moore on 5/18
  • RED KNOT found near Mud Lake by Dave and Elise Faike on 5/20
  • ARCTIC TERNS (2) found at Island Park Reservoir by Cliff Weisse on 5/21
  • EASTERN PHOEBE found near Inkom by Larry Arnold on 5/21
  • NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD found at Market Lake by Steve Butterworth on 5/21
  • SHORT-BILLED DOWITCHER found at Camas NWR by Noel Zaugg on 5/21
  • MAGNOLIA WARBLER found at Camas NWR by Cheryl Huizinga, Pat Weber, and Steve Butterworth on 5/22
  • BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER found at Camas NWR by Cheryl Huizinga, Pat Weber, and Steve Butterworth on 5/23
  • YELLOW-THROATED VIREO found in Carey by Heidi Ware on 5/23

The best sources to keep up with this kind of information include IBLE, the Idaho Birding Facebook Page (predominantly amateur birders and common birds with occasional posts by more experienced birders or of more exciting birds), the Idaho Bird Sightings and Discussion Facebook Page (for more serious discussion and more focus on rarities), and the eBird Rare Bird Alert. If you’re interested in finding out about unusual bird sightings in Idaho, all of these are critical sources.

And just to console myself a little bit, here are a few pictures of a Bobolink Ellen and I found yesterday near New Meadows. It’s not terribly rare, but we missed the ones that we usually find in Garden Valley on Friday so we looked up some locations near New Meadows that I had heard about, and voila, here he is! There are actually two individuals pictured (the first two pictures are one bird, the last two pictures are a different bird) as you can see from the difference in the white barring on the flanks of the two birds. We had two more calling from the grass that we didn’t actually lay eyes on.


Bobolink near New Meadows, Adams County. May 23, 2015.


Bobolink near New Meadows, Adams County. May 23, 2015.


Bobolink near New Meadows, Adams County. May 23, 2015.


Bobolink near New Meadows, Adams County. May 23, 2015.

The whites and yellows on the black kept getting blown out in the bright lighting, but we’ll probably try for more pictures today since we’ll be making another trip to New Meadows to look for the one rarity on the list that isn’t on the opposite side of the state: a Pacific Loon at the Meadow Creek Sewage Ponds.

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