Monday, January 14, 2013

Field Trip Expectations

“Home” as E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial said after a lengthy adventure on Earth. For us humans one need not go far from home for an adventure discovering alien wildlife. For me a wildlife field trip is centered on reasoned expectations of what I wish to find. I think serendipity comes into play as much or more so than prediction by logic.
So, yesterday I find a Cooper’s hawk (Accipiter cooperii) perched in my neighbor’s willow overlooking his feeder stations looking out the window (serendipity). So I’m thinking, it’s my lucky day. Quickly packed my stuff and headed to Pattee Canyon (accessible high elevation site good for winter finches) early afternoon. Sunshine and 18F, walked up the snow packed Crazy Canyon trail hoping to see/hear Pine Grosbeak or Red Crossbill. Did not find either, did get video (below) of Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) foraging. So contrary my expectation, there was no significant/additional bird find for the day.



Today rolls around...and decide to “shoot the moonand again try for winter finches at Lolo Pass, a mere 32 miles from my front door. Guess what, no winter finches (no conifer seed cones might explain this), instead bumped into 6 American Dipper (Cinculus mexicanus) and a Moose (Alces alces) along Lolo Creek.



Stopped back at home for quick lunch, then to west side of Missoula to find a wintering Ferruginous Hawk. Found instead an abundance of Rough-legged Hawk (Buteo lagopus) between Pulp Mill Road and Loiselle Lane. Captured one bird calling on video; that is a first for me (~30 years of wildlife watching).



Kept looking for the ferrug and intersected with a good flock of Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris) containing a couple of Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis) and a single Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus)...again serendipitous; no matter, am really happy because they are usually difficult to find...by expectation :-0
Horned Lark, Snow Bunting, Lapland Longspur...can you find them in the photo?