Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Yellow Breasted Chat #295

The Yellow Breasted Chat has been a bit of a nemesis bird for me. I have heard it on three or four occassions, but have never seen it. I remember once on Harris Creek Road outside of Horseshoe Bend, Idaho, I risked life and limb to climb through thorny brush and was through the creek trying to catch of glimpse of this little cuss, but without luck.

Recently, the conservation specialist working with us at Avimor asked me for a list of the birds I have seen at Avimor so that they can compile a book for the residents. I asked Michael Wiegand for his list. Michael Wiegand is a landscaper specializing in native plants and wildlife enhancing landscaping, also a contractor for me at Avimor. His company is called Habiscapes. He has a home very near the Avimor property in Pearl, Idaho. His home is surrounded by feeders and native plants that birds like and so you can imagine the thousands of birds around his home.

Anyway, Michael's bird list for Avimor included a Yellow Breasted Chat. Quickly I emailed him back and asked where and when had he seen it. He explained that as they were revegetating the retention pond just north of the water reclamation building that the Chat had made regular appearances in the willow trees along Spring Valley Creek. He and his whole crew got to know the loud little fella.

Finally, Tuesday morning around 8am this week I made it out there and drove down the newly asphalted access road to the water reclamation plant. On my first pass I saw lots of birds, but no Yellow Breasted Chat. On my second pass through I heard him. I started imitating the call and it bounced right up to the top of the trees and as I continued imitating it, it came closer and closer to me so that I could see it without the need of my Eagle Optics Ranger SRT's 8x42.

So the habitat in which I have seen a Yellow Breasted Chat is in a riparian area - creek, just outside of a small canyon, surrounded by shrub steppe, yet along a busy Hwy 55. The weather was mostly sunny. It was on a warm summer morning, Tuesday July 15th.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Short Eared Owl #293

Bear River Bird Refuge, Utah

We had two family reunions in Utah the week before the 4th of July holiday. On our drive home I forced my family to endure a couple hours of birding so that I could see the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge. We didn't really even make it to the 12 mile loop where the birds are the thickest due to the kids complaining that they were starving to death. Regardless, the couple of hours we spent driving to the beginning of the loop were very rewarding. We found a Short Eared Owl hopping around in the shade of an olive tree in an otherwise barren field. It was only 30 yards of the road and gave us great chances to look at it. I even think Jessica and the kids were impressed.