Tuesday, June 9, 2015

June 2015: Random Birding

Near Heise Hot Springs, Idaho

Yesterday, after I got home from work, I had the wanderlust.  Nobody else at home was very interested in going out, so I took off on my own to go out to a wildlife area I hadn't been to yet.  There is a WMA (Wildlife Management Area) near my home at a place called Twin Bridges which is a county park on the Archer/Lyman highway.  I had been to the park once before but didn't know it was a WMA at that time, so decided to hang out there for awhile.  When I arrived, though I saw that it was a fee area and since I was only going to be there for an hour or so, it wasn't worth paying, so I headed on down the road.

As I drove, I noticed that Ririe, Idaho was about a mile and a half away and I decided to go over to the Ririe Reservoir because I had heard it was a hotspot for birding as well.  As I approached the reservoir, the first bird I saw was a majestic golden eagle in flight.  I couldn't get the camera in place fast enough to snap a photo, but I thought I might see it on the way out, and I continued on my way.

When I got to the Ririe Reservoir, I saw that it was a fee only area as well.  I was 0 for 2.  I don't mind paying fees in areas like this because I know the fees stay local and help to fund the area.  I don't mind paying my share for that.  But because I was only going to be there for a short time, I decided I'd come back when I could get the biggest bang for my buck.  I headed back down the road and the golden eagle had decided to oblige me and posed on top of a power pole for awhile until he got bored of the weirdo with the camera and flew off.  It was awesome.

The golden eagle

What I normally do when photographing birds or rodents is I stop and zoom in as close as I can, take a photo or two, then move up a few steps and repeat.  I do this until I get close enough or the bird/animal has had enough and flies/runs away.  I do my best to not spook or frighten them, but I still want good photos.

Putting on a show

Had enough

If it hadn't been for the golden eagle, this next bird would have been really cool.  Okay, anytime a raptor poses for you it's cool.  Should have seen this bird first, though, then it would have built up to the golden eagle.  I have not yet identified this particular hawk, although I know it is not a red-tailed hawk.  It has rusty underparts and a rounded tail.  My best guess is either a red-shouldered hawk or a coopers hawk.  I got some awesome photos of him.  I first started shooting from the rear and he kept turning his head to keep an eye on me.  I got around to the front using my shoot and walk method,   If I hadn't seen the golden eagle first...

The hawk, keeping an eye on me

Not afraid but cautious

From the front

From there, I headed back and turned toward Heise Hot Springs and the Rexburg Bench.  The Rexburg Bench is a geologic feature that may be part of a caldera rim or it may be a giant fault scarp.  I am not sure at this time which it is.  This area has been subjected to both earthquakes and caldera style eruptions.  The Rexburg Caldera is larger than the Island Park Caldera and smaller than the Yellowstone Caldera.  So in other words it was pretty huge.

As a traveler, I always like to go home a different way than I went, so when I got to the Heise turnoff, I noticed there was a dirt road that said, "Rexburg 16 Miles".  I took the road and had a nice drive next to the river, which I believe to be the Henry's Fork of the Snake River.  I took a few photos here and there but mostly of scenery.  There was an epic sunset happening and I came across the trailhead to Cress Creek.  I added it to my list of trails to hit in the coming weeks and continued on my way.

Beaver lodge on a slough

Macro photo of wild rose

Macro of a tiny wild rosebud

Sunset over Idaho

Another view a little later

As I headed toward home, I came across another hawk on a power pole.  I don't know what kind it was, but we did it right this time.  First I saw the hawk and then I saw the osprey.  Osprey trumps hawk.  There were two of them at the nest, but I could only see the head of the one setting on the nest.

Hawk sitting on a power pole during the golden hour of light

Osprey and mate at nest

Checking out the guy with the camera

Keeping both eyes open

I headed home to a spectacular sunset over the Menan Buttes.  This area has no shortage of beautiful sunsets.  We used to watch the sunset when I was a little boy.  Every night we'd gather at the big picture window in our living room and watch.  We lived up on the Rexburg Bench.  One day the neighbors asked us why we sat and watched them eating dinner every night.  We had to explain to them it was the sunset we were watching and no, they were not that interesting that we'd have to watch them every night.  This is a great part of the world to live in.  I am thankful every day to live here.

Spectacular sunset

Part II

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