Monday, October 25, 2010

October 24 in western Montana

The neighborhood merlin (Falco columbarius) is back for the fall/winter. There are many mountain ash plantings attracting waxwings (both species) which are the main prey item for this species. Here are photos of the bird perched and in flight.
With success birding on the homefront, ventured to Maclay Flat, USFS property in Missoula, to see other cool stuff. This public land is great just for fall colors without seeing any wildlife.

Bitterroot river looking east towards Hellgate Canyon
Good find was a northern shrike (Lanius excubitor) hunting on far east side (large meadow).

Northern shrike on mullein
Continuing on the trail encountered a set of tracks in the dried irrigation ditch, any guesses as to identity?
Hint: I believe this is from the largest cervid in the world
Fininshing up my walk near the the parking lot, encountered a large group (~18) of Clark's nutcracker (Nucifraga columbiana) feeding on the ground. See the You Tube video of these birds in action at