Friday, June 26, 2015

Birding on the Highline

One of the cool things about being a birder and a traveler is the excitement of seeing birds that don't live in my own backyard, ones I don't see all that often.  It makes a good thing (taking a trip) even better!  My trip to northeastern Montana earlier this month was certainly no exception.
Bird Sightings (from Opheim, Glasgow, Fort Peck, Bowdoin NWR):
Canada Goose
American Wigeon
Lesser Scaup
Eared Grebe
Black-necked Stilt (new to me!)
Ruddy Duck
(This photo actually shows both the Black-necked Stilts--on the shore--and a Ruddy Duck --recognizable by its still tail--on the water at center.)
American White Pelican
Double-crested Cormorant
Great Blue Heron
Red-tailed Hawk
Common Snipe
Blue-winged Teal
Cinnamon Teal
Green-winged Teal
Franklin's Gull
Ring-billed Gull
Caspian Tern
Yellow Warbler
American Goldfinch
House Sparrow
Mourning Dove
Great Horned Owl (five!)
Common Nighthawk
Eastern Kingbird
Black-billed Magpie
American Crow
Horned Lark
Cliff Swallow
Red-winged Blackbird
Western Meadowlark
Yellow-headed Blackbird
Brewer's Blackbird
Common Grackle
Barn Swallow
Tree Swallow
Brown Creeper
House Wren
American Robin
Cedar Waxwing
The owls were certainly a highlight--seen on the Bowdoin National Wildlife Refuge.  For all our birding Matt and I just don't see them often--and he was bummed he wasn't there for this delightful sighting.  I think I must have spooked a brood of juveniles from their afternoon nap.  I saw a Brown Creeper on a dead tree and moved in the direction.  Just as I got the creeper in the frame of my binoculars I saw huge movement in the corner of my eye.  I looked up just in time to see the first owl fly off to a more distant tree...and then another...and another...until five had vacated the dead tree.  Two stayed near enough that I had a long viewing.  We had a staring contest--they won.  The mosquitoes tried to eat me alive, but it was worth it.
Also at Bowdoin I saw my first Black-necked Stilt.  I saw them flying and immediately knew it was something I'd never seen before--they trail their long, bright red legs behind them quite obviously and eye-catchingly.
In Opehim, MT--just a hop, skip, and a jump from Canada--I saw a flock of American Goldfinches!  We get them in pairs here and there where I live, but I've never seen dozens in one place before.  I made my sister stop the car, but alas, the memory card in my camera was full.

A Common Nighthawk made me stop mid-sentence and run off after it.

At Fort Peck Lake I watched a Caspian Tern dive for fish:  circle, circle, dive, circle, circle, dive...
I didn't intend to become a birder.  It just happened.  I got a new camera and thought, "Well, let's go to Riverfront Park and test it out."  Turns out it was a super fun challenge to test it out on birds.  And the rest is history.


  1. Oh, I love your photos! Very picturesque.

    1. I actually got into birding because I liked taking their photos! Then it became a sort of puzzle to figure out what I'd photographed. They go hand in hand for me. I am pleased you enjoyed them.


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