Thursday, September 20, 2012

Moose on the loose

Yesterday afternoon I went to Camas National Wildlife Refuge to do some birding and to check on the three bull moose bachlors that have been there for a year.  Low and behold the largest bull had found two girlfriends and was protective of the two.  The cows wandered on their own and the bull was determined that no males, including me, would mess things up for him.
As one of the cows came near me, the bull did a stalk on me.
He decided to charge, but there was deep water between us and he would stop there.
He would bellow at the cows, but they would look up at him and then continue eating.
He got a little angry at us all and took it out on some willows.  Probably just sharpening the tines for me.
He had to chase after one of the wandering cows and then looked back and me, warning me to keep my distance.
The other cow moved across the road from me and he decided he was tired of me being too close.  So he pawed and ground, urinated in it and I headed for the truck. 
I did not get any pictures of him chasing the truck down the road, but he chased the truck for about 20 yards before heading back to round up his two partners.
The last I saw of them was as they headed into the high bullrushes -  right toward the other two bull moose.  I'm afraid he will have a fight on his hands.
What a great time in the wilds of Idaho and I will be there looking for them again and soon.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Sage grouse season

Saturday, September 15, was the opening day of sage grouse season here in Idaho.  After 75 minutes of traveling across some very ruff primative roads, I got to a cattle watering station in the middle of the high desert north of St. Anthony.  There were no birds at the tank when I got there and was a little worried about their numbers during the summer heat and drought.
I listened to the coyotes howling and bugling bull elk between short snoozes.  About 6:30, I was awakened by a strange sound and saw wave after wave of sage grouse walking to the water tank.  I did not realize that the tank was bone dry and the only moisure for the birds was damp dirt that had been dug out by the birds.  These pockets of wet dirt probably started out as tracks from cattle when the tank overflowed.  I flushed the birds several times only to have them come back for more moisture.
Here a family group works the damp dirt holes.
The young of the year were still learning to fly and was reluctent to take off, but had been taught how to get the moisure out of the dirt.  They would get a mouthful of dirt, hold it a minute or two and then spit out what remained.

Another source of moisture for the birds was eating the green grass with frost on it.

The birds were so concerned about getting water, that they paid no attention to me in the truck.  This sage grouse walked under my truck to get to the moist earth pockets.

One time I flushed the birds and filled a couple of holes with water from my water bottles.  The birds returned in about five minutes and these two young cocks fought over the water.

There were over 100 birds that came to this water tank to try to find water.  I traveled to another tank in the desert that was full with some overflowing.  As I was driving up about 50 birds flushed as I got close. These were more concerned about safety than thirst. 
I spent the morning in the Wilds of Idaho and saw coyotes, migrating Mountain Bluebirds, elk, Mule deer and moose.  What a great way to spend some time learning and studying the wildness of Idaho.

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Mystery Bird

This morning I had several flocks of warblers show up after the rain last night.  Along with them was a blue bird I have been seeing once or twice each week since early July.  Here it is:

An expert birder of our area believes it is a cross between a Lazuli and an Indigo Bunting. 

The fall migration is underway and my trees have been filled with birds after the rain on Friday and Saturday nights.

Just another great wildness day in Idaho.

Saturday, August 18, 2012

Dark-morph Swainson's Hawk

There are a lot of Swainson's and Red-tailed hawks around.  The young are learning to hunt and are getting ready to migrate.  The Swainson's are usually gone by the end of September so we don't have much time to enjoy them.

Spent this morning at Market Lake enjoying the wildlife before the heat rolled in.  Great way to enjoy the wildness of Idaho.

Butterfly food

A Satyr Comma butterfly enjoying a huckleberry/chokecherry flavored Rocky Mountain granola bar.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Great Egret

Met a guy yesterday that tried to post a picture every day on his facebook page.  I thought I will try to give it a try here.

A friend and I went birding at Market Lake this morning and saw some interesting birds.  I got my first picture of a Great Egret as it harvested some fish.  It is fun to watch successful fishermen.

Just another great day in the wilds of Idaho.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Fires and Weed Wackers

With all the fires in Idaho, the air is hazy and at times you can only see a mile or two.  This was yesterday's sunrise as I was fishing Henrys Lake.

Today at Camas National Wildlife Refuge I saw these three "weed wackers" mowing down weeds.

The biggest one may have decided I was a large weed, but he missed because I was behind my truck when he came by.

Just a couple more days in the wilds of Idaho.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Red-naped Sapsuckers

Too much death and busyness so far this summer - hopefully it is all over.

Had fun two days last week recording activities of Red-naped Sapsuckers.  This pairs home, feeding area and activites take place mostly in four aspen trees in the Moody Creek area.  There are two other pair less than two hundred yards from this one in the same grove of aspen.

Mom feeds one of the babies a mouth full of ants.  Probably the veggies of the sapsucker world.

Next she gathers aspen juice from a neighboring tree and then goes back and give the chicks a drink .

Daddy comes by with a mouth full of juicy bugs, mostly butterflies with the wings removed.  But probably more tasty than the ants that Mom brings.

A baby takes most of Dad offering, leaving only a couple of ants for the other.

The two parents made 23 visits to the home to feed the hungry in a two hour period.

Just another wild day in Idaho.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Great Saturday

Had a great Saturday chasing birds all over Southeastern Idaho.  First I went to the upper area of the Moody area looking for sharp-tail grouse.  I was able to find a lek of seven, one male and six females.

In the early morning sun, a Western Meadowlark was singing its lungs out.

At Market Lake WMA, the Great-horned owl has hatched the chicks, but hides them under her wings when we come around.

A Great Blue heron leaves as I pull up to watch him fish.


An American Avocet flies over and is just one of about a hundred working the shallows at Market Lake.

On the way home, I stopped by the Texas Slough and found large numbers of Willets and Greater Yellow-legs.  Here a pair of each compete for hidden food.

And finally my first Osprey of the season.  The male was helping the female remodel and spring clean their house.

A great way to spend another Wild Day in Idaho.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Sage grouse show off for the girls

During a recent snow storm, the male Sage grouse continued to display for the girls.  It is always an exciting activity to watch.  The males arrive about an hour before daylight.

The hens follow later.

But when the females come, the males get a little excited and start fighting and......

then they start showing off, trying to attract the females. 

Dancing and puffing out their chests while the female ignore most of them takes a lot of energy.

Tired of showing off, the males wait for the sun to come up

As the sun warms them, the hens leave, but the males remain a while longer in case a hot female shows up late.

With the females all gone for the day, the males fly off to feed and rest until the next morning arrives with new opportunities for a girlfriend. 

A great way to celebrate the wildness of Idaho.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Peregrine Falcon Attack - Goose protector

This morning I had one of the most amazing experiences I have ever witnessed.  I apologize for the poor quality of the photos as all the action happened almost a quarter of a mile away and these were the best I could get.  But the I hope you enjoy this experience with me.

At Market Lake near Roberts, I was looking for new arrivals when I saw a Peregrine falcon working a burned over area.  It flushed a flock of Northern Pintails.  I saw the falcon hit a male going full speed.  By the time I got turned around the falcon had attack the injured duck several times and a Canada goose had left its mate and was driving the falcon away from the injured pintail.  The falcon took a perch on a nearby post.

Everytime the falcon attack, the goose would snap its bill and move closer to the injured duck.

At one point during the ordeal, the goose moved the injured duck under its wing while the falcon continued to try to drive the goose away.

The goose's mate continued to call and when the protector left, the falcon would attack the injured duck.

Each time the goose would return, chasing the falcon off the duck.

With the injured duck becoming weaker, the goose became more aggressing toward the falcon.

The goose actually placed the duck between its legs and stood over it.

Once while the goose flew back to its mate, the falcon picked up the duck to fly off with it when the goose came back, causing the falcon to drop the duck.

Once the goose grabbed the duck by its bill and pulled it toward the deeper water, but its mate continued to call it away from the duck.  Eventually the duck died while the goose was away.

The goose chased the falcon away from the body so it could check it out.

Finding the duck dead, the goose walked away allowing the falcon to return.  The goose bowed its head facing the falcon and body - stayed 15 to 20 minutes with its head down before flying off.

The battle lasted almost two hours.  I am glad I noticed, witnessed and learned from the experience.

Why did the goose protect the injured duck?  It was only a Northern Pintail migrating through the area.  Life and death in the wildness of Idaho could teach us humans lessons that we should learn.  This experience taught me some lessons I will never forget.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

First Snow Geese of the year

Saturday was sunny and calm, so I left early looking for new arrivals from the bird kingdom.  I was not disappointed.  In a shallow pond I saw my first sandhill cranes of the season before the sun came up in the rising mist on the cold morning a Camas National Wildlife Refuge.

At Big Pond a white-tailed deer ran through the shallow pond, but it was ignored by the few waterfowl there.  The deer was one of 31 I saw on the refuge.

The male Great-horned owl was enjoying the warm sun as I finished my 3 hour tour/hike at Camas.

On my quest to try to locate some snow geese, I passed a cattle feedyard where calves were being born.  Seven Bald and one Golden eagles were cleaning up the after-birth from the recent births.

At Mud Lake I could hear the Snows long before I could see them.  They were dropping out of the sky thousands of feet in the air and joining their migrating compatriots.

I sat on the edge of the ice covered in the bright sun watching the waves of geese fly in.  Here a lone Great White-fronted goose leads the formation of some snows.

After two hours of watching the action of Mud Lake, I left.  As I got back to the truck I heard the whole flock of 4000 to 5000 take off.  The cloud you see is one of geese as they fly out to eat in the area fields.

Just another wild day in Idaho.