Thursday, June 13, 2019

May 26th Head Smashed In and Dungarvan

May 26th:
Torrential rain all night mist low cloud at dawn but the weather forecast showed no rain only 30 miles away so we headed north-east to HSIBJ for another go at Range Road 273 and the Northern Harriers. True to their word the rain cleared as we hit Pincher Creek and it was fine and warm by the time we reached HSIBJ. Heading up RR 273 the fences held the usual mix of Savannah and Clay-coloured Sparrows but no Baird’s, Western Meadowlarks and Brewer’s Blackbirds then something jumped up off the roadside next to my window and perched on an adjacent fence post with its wings raised an UPLAND SANDPIPIERat point black range. Banging the camera on the steering wheel a few shots were fired off before another bird flew in and both of them went into the adjacent field showing brilliantly albeit through the barbed wire fence. After a suitable period of grilling we continued up the road adding the usual Swainson’s Hawks, one on a nest, displaying Western Willet and Marbled Godwit, 5 Spotted Sandpipers on Mud Lake with a pair of Wilson’s Phalaropes on a small pond where a Greater Scaup with two Lessers was the only record of the trip. A singing male Bobolinkand Eastern Kingbird rounded off a good morning and we were off to HSIBJ for a look round the centre and walk along the trail outside where our only Say’s Phoebewas singing with a Spotted Towhee, Gray Catbird and the Northern Harriers were sky dancing and performing some superb fly-bys albeit in what was  now rather bright light. The Yellow-bellied Marmots showed well. We then headed back to the B&B via Waterton Reservoir where the American Osprey nest by the dam delivered a nice pair of calling birds and the roadside pools held the usual mix of waterfowl plus a few Ruddy Ducks. At the B&B I had an hour round the pond photographing the grebes and the 6+ Audubon’s Warblersthat were flycatching over the water. A Belted Kingfisherdropped in and a Taiga Merlinperched in the tree by the house. A drumming Ruffed Grousein the adjacent wood defeated our best efforts to see it but Wilson’s Snipe were easier around the pond and Sandhill Cranes could be heard calling in the next valley. We returned to Waterton for a meal at Trappers but had a quick walk round the town first turning up our first three Rufous Hummingbirdsof the trip on a feeder and our only White-throated Sparrowwith 4 White-crowned Sparrows on the grass by the main street and a pair of Harlequins in the drainage channel from the waterfall and Red Squirrel. As we left the park a Red-naped Sapsuckerwas in the trees by the first lake.

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