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Spring/Summer 2017 Field Trips Recap

by Cory Davis and Kathy Ross

Boat tour on Flathead Lake – Photo Credit: Doug MacCarter

It was another full and exciting spring and summer for birdwatching in the Flathead Valley. We had a lot of fun, observed some excellent birds (lifers anyone?), and saw some beautiful country. Thank you to all of our wonderful and dedicated field trip leaders!

Earth Day 2017, April 22: Held at the Whitefish Middle School, this was a huge success. Denny Olson, Barbara Summers and Kathy Ross spent a fun day sharing information about birds and conservation with dozens of folks. Every kid wanted to be a bird!

Forestry Expo 2017, May 6: A beautiful day in the forest with many interested adults and young people passing through our booth to hear about birds, field trips, and conservation issues that Flathead Audubon is addressing. The kids waited in line to be dressed and photographed like a bird. Audubon volunteers made it happen for them!

Smith Lake, May 14: A dozen participants followed Paul Rossi and Cory Davis around the wetlands and lake. 57 species were observed including all three teal species, Wood Duck, Sora, Wilson’s Snipe, Red-Necked Grebe, and Sandhill Cranes.

Swan River Wildlife Refuge, May 20: An intrepid foursome got a unique tour of the Refuge with Swan Valley Connections Executive Director Maria Mantas that included many fascinating historical and ecological anecdotes. 61 species were observed!

Camas Road in Glacier NP, May 21: A beautiful day in the park with looks at Fox Sparrow, Vaux’s Swift, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Black-backed Woodpecker, and a last minute Harlequin Duck flying under the bridge we were gathered on.

Ninepipes and Pablo Community Bird Festival, May 25: Seven enthusiastic birders were treated to views of young Great Horned Owls, Trumpeter Swans, Red-tailed hawks and many species of waterfowl on a beautiful day in the Mission Valley. After an afternoon of birding, everyone attended the Bird Festival in Pablo. Audubon groups, Native Plant Society, Loon Working group and many other local conservation groups had wonderful educational displays and activities for young and old.

Lubec-Coonsa Creek Area of Glacier NP, June 6: Led by Steve Gniadek and fantastic views of birds, bears, and wildflowers were enjoyed by 10 participants. Great time to hear and learn the different calls of Flycatchers and Sparrows along with the voices of dozens of other migrant song birds. Two beautiful grizzlies crossed our path at a safe distance and the spring wildflower display was beautifully colorful and distracting.

Tally Lake Weekend, June 15-17: A little wet for the weekend, but that didn’t dampen the good time had by all. As usual the food and fireside conversations were delicious. Forty-four species were recorded including what many thought was a Palm Warbler!

Flathead Lake Biological Station, June 19: see the webpage for this one!

Marias Pass and Eastside of Rockies, June 24: Following our fearless guide, Paul Rossi, 9 participants put in a long day and were rewarded with many excellent birds including Northern Waterthrush, Wilson’s Snipe, and Willow and Alder Flycatchers at the Lubec Lake Trail. East of the Mountains, we saw not one, but two (!), dark morph Ferruginous Hawks, Clay-colored Sparrow, and both McCown’s and Chestnut-collared Longspurs.

Going Batty! July 28: Approximately 22 people including the leaders and assistants enjoyed perfect weather and lots of bats. As dark fell about 30 bats were mist netted in short order. Sixteen were kept for closer examination and the rest released . All those examined were little brown bats except for one long-legged myotis. Participants were able to get close looks at the individuals as they were weighed, measured, and identified to species. Of special interest was one individual estimated to be 30-40 years old based on the extensive tooth wear.

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