Monday, March 29, 2010

Sunday, March 28 was predicted to be a wonderful day weatherwise. Knowing that I had not seen a mountain bluebird or any winter finch yet this year made me decide to go "up" Highway 12 to Lolo Pass (~6th trip this way!...don't know if qualifies as ignorace or determination). Counted 9 Steller's jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) on the road shoulder on the way to the pass; am guessing they were getting "grit". 1st stop of day was abrupt about 25 miles from Highway 93...a large wet meadow (guessing about 6/7 football fields long and maybe 4 wide) when I saw a Mountain bluebird (Sialia currocoides) perched on a fencepost. Made a u-turn and parked at a Lewis & Clark Trail interpretive sign/pull-off. Filmed the two male flycatching...like living turquoise.

Finished drive to the Pass. Stood in the parking lot for 15 minutes listening for singing/calling winter finches...no luck. Got back in car, stopped at highway listening for traffic coming out of Idaho (don't want to pull out in front of an 18-wheeler going downhill) and hear a crossbill singing instead of traffic. Parked, ran over to stop with video camera and captured the following footage (good sound, poor image) of ONLY one bird...how lucky can you get.

Smiling to myself, headed downhill. Made couple of stops. Heard ruffed grouse (Bonasa umbrellus) drumming along wooded streamside. Stopped at a wet meadow opening in the forest listening for fox sparrow...no luck, but take photos of granite rock (igneous origin) unique to lands at and above (underlain by the Idaho batholith) the Lolo Hot Springs. After appreciating the frozen flow of rock, went to the Lolo Campground. Heard fox sparrow (Passerella ilica) singing somewhat continuously...also a fine spot for finding chestnut-backed chickadee (Poecile rufescens). Last stop at Travelers' Rest State Park (http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Lolo-MT/Travelers-Rest-State-Park/216753297384?ref=mf), sighted a Lewis woodpecker off a distance though diagnostic by flight/shape. A great day outside...now at 107 species for year and 91 species for month