Saturday, April 23, 2011

Yellow-throated Warbler and Sage Grouse

A rare bird gets me very excited and yesterday a friend called to tell me a Yellow-throated Warbler was at the Ashton Fish Hatchery.  Having never seen one and with only three recorded in Idaho history, I was after it.  But that was not possible until the sun warmed up the 10 degree weather.  So out to watch the Sage Grouse do their dance and breeding.  Here is a series of pictures of their display.

Here one of over 100 males is displaying on a road.  He stands at attentions and takes a deep breath.

Here he raises up taking a deeper breath.

His wings rub on his exposed chest making a squeaking sounds as he continues to suck in air.

Dropping his wings he sucks in more air.  The deepest of all the intakes of air.

Now he starts to full the two large air-sacks on his chest.

The air that has filled his lungs is now transferred to the air sacks.

To completely fill the sacks, he buries his head between the air sacks.  Notice the blood vessels running through the membrane of the air sacks.

He then releases the air and stands at attention to see if any of the ladies were impressed enough to visit him.

This is a dangerous place for these endangered birds to flirt and breed.  It is a good thing that this road is usually only traveled by farmers and bird watchers, or many would be killed.

Here is a poor quality of a lifer for me.  Not good but the best I could do today.

A Yellow-throated warbler to end another exciting day in the wilds of Idaho.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Sunrise before the storm

It has been storming a lot lately with high winds and rain or snow.  Some mornings the sun peeks over the mountains only to be covered the the nastyness of more storms.  So sun, "Of all the things you wear, your expression is the most important."

So thanks for brightening up a tough day for me.  A great way to start a day in the wilds of Idaho.

See other great sky shots at

Friday, April 15, 2011

Market Lake Sitting Sun

Leaving Market Lake after spending the evening birding and recording 52 species of birds and seeing a moose and 21 mule deer, I watched the sun as it went to bed.  Just a wink and a nod before it closed its eyes completely signalled the death of a day but the birth of the night.

Another beautiful day spent in the wilds of Idaho.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Hoodies attack Red-breasted

Yesterday I sat in a blind for four hours watching the migrating mergansers feeding and fighting.  What an experience.  There were about 40 Red-breasted mergansers feeding in an area and with them were six pair of Hooded mergansers.  They put on quite a show. 

One pair of Hoodies had staked out the area right by my blinds and it seemed like the best feeding area for the larger Red-breasted.

Here the male Hoody is showing off his crest as he tries to protect the area.

It seemed like his main job was to protect his would-be mate.  Any other bird that got too close was viciously attack.

After fishing, a male Red-breasted surfaced right by the female Hoody.  Not a good decision. 

When Mr. Hoody surfaced there was heck to pay.  With his bill wide open, he attack the larger bird.

Almost chasing him up on the bank right below my blind.

Later when a female Red-breasted got too close, it also was driven off by the angry boyfriend.

One time he went after both a female and male Red-breasted.  The female dove to get out of his way while the male peeked up for a breath before diving again.

As I was leaving, the master of the fishing hole, proudly displayed hoping the female will soon be ready for his advances.  But once she starts sitting on their eggs, he will be gone, pursuing other chicks or playful activities.  He will not be around to help with the children.

Four hours spent in Heaven in the wilds of Idaho.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Snowy spring break.

Yesterday and today was my spring break from school.  WOW - time for birding and looking for some bikinis.  No bikinis; not many birds, but enough to keep me interested.

Here a female Great-horned owl protects her eggs as the night snow covers everything.

Common mergansers fly along the shore of Mud Lake.

A Western Meadowlark tries to bring some warmth to the cold day by singing.

A Red-breasted Merganser hunts for fish for lunch.

Meanwhile nearby a Hooded Merganser also hunts for lunch.

A flock of snowgeese join others on Mud Lake.

And in a evening snowstorm, a pair Sandhill cranes walk down the dike near Mud Lake.

A great way to spend spring break in Idaho.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Evening at Camas National Wildlife Refuge

While birding this week at Camas National Wildlife Refuge, an water oasis in the Idaho desert, the sun peaked through the clouds lighting up the Sawtooth Mountains to the west.  Meeting were scheduled and I had to leave before the sun set, but the light, snow, shadows and mountains thrilled and inspired me.

A great wat to finish an afternoon in the wilds of Idaho.

See other great sky pictures at

Friday, April 1, 2011

Stormy sunset

Tonight as I was waiting and waiting for the snow geese to show up (the didn't) I did manage to watch and photograph a few other birds, but the sunset was stunning.  Camas NWR is my home away from home in the spring.

I almost waited too long to record the end of another wild day in Idaho.