Birds a slowly returning. The noise along streams and in the woods is increasing as males find singing perches. The last few days have been rain filled.
The Bufflehead is a small diving duck, about half the size of a Mallard. Each spring they hit an area along the Snake River during migration.
Spring is in the air. As the small creeks start to open, wintering birds are moving in. This Hooded Merganser was in the creek near my house. It winters in the area, then moves north to the Idaho panhandle and northwestern Montana, for the summer.
I found a second owl nest a couple of weeks ago. I found signs of owl activity this spring, but only a couple of weeks ago did I go back in and check. This nest was in a cottonwood tree and a much better looking spot then my other owl. I've only had a couple of chances to go in and view them.
This past week I also went to a spot outside of the park just to get away from the growing crowd. I came across a pair of Prairie Falcons. They were hunting the Violet-Green Swallows flying around the cliffs.
This has been a good year for my birding. So far I've found more nesting birds (and interesting ones) then ever before. But I am not looking for the nests, I just seem to be coming across them.
Right now I am really trying hard to get a shot of a Sora. I've found an area that has (from just listing) five or six. I've only seen two, but my camera is always pointing in the wrong direction. One spot that I sit and watch, I can hear the Sora just on the other side of the grass. It has been making very quite calls for two weeks, so I think it must be on a nest.
I've seen Snipe nest and eggs, an Great Horned Owl nest (one chick), Sharp Shinned Hawk (two are always in the same tree so they must be nesting), and lots of ducks and song birds that I've found nesting as I walk through the area.
I've been very slow at posting shots. I have spent more time in the field taking pictures and other night working late at the paper.
Instead of trying to post every week, which was the goal, I will try and post twice a month for the summer.
Friday morning I went into an area to photography a Ruffed Grouse. I found one that used a log that had a clear view. But just as I was heading in I caught sight of bear ears coming over a hill. It was the sow with 3 cubs. I spent the morning shoot them as they moved along a moraine. The cubs were wrestling with each other a lot. When they came upon a small group of elk, the sow made a run at them. The elk ran off, but the bear didn't chase them it when to the area the elk had run from. It was checking to see if any calves were hidden in the sage brush. It didn't find anything.
White-winged Crossbills normal range is the Northern Canadian Rockies, so I was surprised to find one last Wednesday. A male and female were mixed in with a group of the more commonly found Red Crossbills. White-winged Crossbills will sometimes move this far south during the winter, but this pair has decided to stay.
While hiking about I also ran across a grizzly and 3 cubs. I saw them before they saw me, but their sense of smell is so good that in a few minutes their noses were in the air and started to move out of the area.
I sat along a small stream to watch what kind of birds were in the area to come and drink. Nothing much in the way of new arrivals. But I did see a few White Winged Crossbills. I saw them all three days, so they might have a nest in the area. I also found a Great Horned Owl nest. Didn't look like any thing has hatched, but it should be soon. When they do I will post some pictures.
The one thing I watched and was surprised about were the Pine Siskins eating grass. It is a sparrow sized bird that moves in large flocks and feeds mostly on seeds. So I was puzzled when I saw it eating grass in the stream. I looked it up and they sometimes eat grass, not a lot, but on rare occasions.
The snow is disappearing quickly and the birds are returning, time to start shooting again.
This past weekend I finally went out for both days. Cold and overcast, it wasn't the best but it felt good to be out.
The following are just a few shots, it was to cloudy to get anything good.
I am not going to update my site very much this winter. I don't get out as much with the camera as I do from spring to fall. The low temps make it very hard on my equipment and I don't want to keep replacing it. I might post a new picture once a month, but not much more then that.
I will post on a more regular basis in April.