Tuesday, May 26, 2015

May 2015: Birdwatching

Cartier Slough Wildlife Management Area

Like I need another hobby.  I've taken up birdwatching.  It's not that this is anything new, I've always been interested in birds and have always enjoyed trying to identify them, until now I haven't gone out specifically to view them.  I always have spotted them while I was doing other things.  I always had the intention of bird watching but the time was never right.

So one of my friends and colleagues has been a bird watcher for a long time.  I have admired his photographs of birds for many years.  He won a blue ribbon at the fair for a flock of ibis' in flight against the moon.  Really cool picture.  He also has a closeup of a sandhill crane that is stunning.  I decided to take a little more interest in the hobby.

My friend, Omar has been going out to a place called Camas National Wildlife Refuge for years.  It is a bird sanctuary about thirty miles from my home and I never really knew about it.  He showed me some pictures he had taken out there and I decided I needed to go.  I've already blogged about it a couple of times, then I saw there was a wildlife refuge really close called Mud Lake.  I took the Hot Chick there and then I blogged about it.

On Saturday we decided to go out to Sand Creek Wildlife Management Area to spot more birds.  I got skunked.  No birds, just a bunch of humans fishing.  I didn't see any birds and they didn't catch any fish.  Karma.  We also went out to Chester Marshes Wildlife Management Area and didn't really get much there either.  The ponds at Sand Creek are closed to humans because they are a sensitive nesting ground for some endangered species.  The ponds open on July 1st.  We'll be able to go back and hopefully see the elusive great blue heron that I've been trying to photograph for a long time.

When I drove home from work today, I was in a torrential downpour.  Not a good day for birding.  Or was it?  I looked across the steppe toward the Camas National Wildlife Refuge and it appeared there was no rain there, even a little sunshine.  I couldn't convince anyone in the family to go out and hang with me so I went myself.  I had a nice time, but my initial instincts were right.  It wasn't a very good day to go birding.  I only saw a few birds, but the ones I saw were really cool.

The first bird I saw was a bald eagle with bulrushes in it's talons, heading toward the nest.

Bald eagle in nest building mode

Same bald eagle, same bulrushes, my blog my rules

I don't know why I looked over at the canal bank when I did, but I saw a willet.  I didn't know what it was at first and I had to wait until I got home to identify it, but it was a willet.  Long legs long slender beak.  Pretty cool bird.  It was gloomy and overcast, and the bird nearly blended in with the dirt it was standing on.  I saw the bird only by chance.




I drove all through the preserve and saw a few owls, but none close enough to get a picture of.  I saw a sandhill crane in flight but never close enough.  I saw a pheasant and when I stopped to photograph it, my wipers went off and it spooked the bird and it ran off like a roadrunner.  It was kind of funny.  I snapped a couple of pics of it, but I didn't have the camera set a motion, so they ended up blurry and unusable.

It was getting dark pretty fast and the rain was coming and going, so my time at Camas was short and mostly unproductive.  Not a waste of time though.

At the last pond, I saw several families of Canada geese swimming together.  The parents were teaching the young.  That was awesome.  I normally don't take pictures of Canada geese because I have seen so many of them in my life that they don't seem as cool as they once did.  But when I see them behaving as a family, I dig that.

Canada geese teaching their young

and the neighbors

As I drove home, I noticed a sign that said, "Cartier Slough W.M.A." by a place called "Beaver Dick Park".  Wildlife Management Areas are all over the place around here and I never knew.  I can't turn around without running into one.  They are everywhere.  I discovered that Idahoans like birds.  Who knew?  I took the drive around Cartier only as a fact finding mission because it was getting dark fast.  It's a beautiful slow spot in the river and is full of habitat for not only birds but also big game.  I saw two whitetail deer bound away and numerous rabbits.  I didn't see many birds, but the first one I did see was another willet.


Another view

As I drove around the preserve, I discovered the remains of an elk and a whitetail deer.  The carcasses were mostly intact but both of them were missing their heads.  A headless deer three feet away from a headless elk.  I had stumbled upon a poachers camp.  Stuff like that irritates me.

Poached elk

I looked up Cartier Slough W.M.A. when I got home and found that there are no interior roads in the refuge but there are a few trails.  It is heavily overgrown and the literature suggests seeing it best by way of canoe.  I may take them up on it.  I love to canoe.  The literature said that was the best way to see the waterfowl.  That means it's time to buy a canoe.  Great, another hobby!

Cartier Slough

Rainwater collecting in pits in the lava rock

Cottonwood tree in silhouette 

Sunset in Idaho

Sometime in the next month I intend to take the hiking trails into the interior of Cartier Slough.  It was a beautiful place and I want to see more of it.

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