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Shields Valley Birding 4/24 - Harris's Sparrow, Northern Shrikes, Willets and more...

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  • Forrest Rowland
    MOB,   This morning Mike Lesnik joined me for a spin through the Shields Valley, including birding the River Road. Highlights along the River Road included a
    Message 1 of 7 , Apr 24, 2013
      MOB,
       
      This morning Mike Lesnik joined me for a spin through the Shields Valley, including birding the River Road. Highlights along the River Road included a pair of Great Horned Owls at the South river crossing/bridge, and two Northern Shrikes. Upon investigating sightings of Shrikes reported in eBird, it seems we found ourselves in a unique situation, as these dates are doldrums for any Shrike species, with equally few reports of either Northern (late dates 4/25) or Loggerhead (early dates 4/18) variety. The main highlight of the drive was one adult male Harris's Sparrow foraging below the window feeder array of the lovely white house at the corner of River Rd and Falls Creek Rd. This house never fails! On every visit, there has been a surprise waiting at the feeders. In the pond/ditch across the street, at the same intersection, Mike spotted a Sandhill Crane on a nest in the middle of the tiny water there. If it were a snake, I would've been a goner. Exciting to see a Crane incubating...
       
      Our next birding stop was to the Arthun Ranch Pond, previously described by Scott Dean. It was awesome! For starters, we had yet another Northern Shrike on the fence opposite the pond. A fine rufous/dark Ferruginous Hawk put on a show for us, as well! Waterfowl were numerous for such a small body of water (in my opinion) and included two Greater Scaup (1m, 1f), and five Red-breasted Mergansers (2m, 3f). 3 Marbled Godwit were the shorebird highlights.
       
      On to Cottonwood Reservoir, where Mike and I observed the largest congregation of Green-winged Teal either could remember seeing in one place (500+). It was astonishing! Wigeons were nearly as staggering, with over 400 present. The large flock of white geese included at least 6 Ross' Goose among the Snow. Grebes were tricking in, while a pair of holdout Barrow's Goldeneye will probably be leaving soon. No less than 16 Marbled Godwits were present, along with 6 Willet! Strafing Golden and Bald Eagles kept us entertained, as we methodically combed through the large number of birds present. As always, it was a great visit.
       
      Good Birding,
       
      Forrest Rowland
      Livingston, MT
    • steel_rsd
      Making me jealous I had to work today, would have loved to join you but heading out for an evening stop at Arthun Pond and Cottonwood. I know exactly the
      Message 2 of 7 , Apr 24, 2013
        Making me jealous I had to work today, would have loved to join you but heading out for an evening stop at Arthun Pond and Cottonwood. I know exactly the Sandhill Cranes you're talking about as I was able to get a nice picture of them standing in the reeds a couple weeks ago. My vote for Arthun Pond and E. River Road as hotspots. Have either of you looked at the small swamp/pond just off the highway at Castle Mtn. Road. Robin Wolcott and I have discussed this and she has had good luck there in the past and I had a Wilson's Snipe even before all the ice was off this year. My tally at that location for the year is over 20 species.

        Scott Dean


        --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, Forrest Rowland <rowbird2005@...> wrote:
        >
        > MOB,
        >  
        > This morning Mike Lesnik joined me for a spin through the Shields Valley, including birding the River Road. Highlights along the River Road included a pair of Great Horned Owls at the South river crossing/bridge, and two Northern Shrikes. Upon investigating sightings of Shrikes reported in eBird, it seems we found ourselves in a unique situation, as these dates are doldrums for any Shrike species, with equally few reports of either Northern (late dates 4/25) or Loggerhead (early dates 4/18) variety. The main highlight of the drive was one adult male Harris's Sparrow foraging below the window feeder array of the lovely white house at the corner of River Rd and Falls Creek Rd. This house never fails! On every visit, there has been a surprise waiting at the feeders. In the pond/ditch across the street, at the same intersection, Mike spotted a Sandhill Crane on a nest in the middle of the tiny water there. If it were a snake, I would've been a goner.
        > Exciting to see a Crane incubating...
        >  
        > Our next birding stop was to the Arthun Ranch Pond, previously described by Scott Dean. It was awesome! For starters, we had yet another Northern Shrike on the fence opposite the pond. A fine rufous/dark Ferruginous Hawk put on a show for us, as well! Waterfowl were numerous for such a small body of water (in my opinion) and included two Greater Scaup (1m, 1f), and five Red-breasted Mergansers (2m, 3f). 3 Marbled Godwit were the shorebird highlights.
        >  
        > On to Cottonwood Reservoir, where Mike and I observed the largest congregation of Green-winged Teal either could remember seeing in one place (500+). It was astonishing! Wigeons were nearly as staggering, with over 400 present. The large flock of white geese included at least 6 Ross' Goose among the Snow. Grebes were tricking in, while a pair of holdout Barrow's Goldeneye will probably be leaving soon. No less than 16 Marbled Godwits were present, along with 6 Willet! Strafing Golden and Bald Eagles kept us entertained, as we methodically combed through the large number of birds present. As always, it was a great visit.
        >  
        > Good Birding,
        >  
        > Forrest Rowland
        > Livingston, MT
        >
      • steel_rsd
        Pulling up to Arthun Pond this evening, Ferruginous Hawk perched on the ground (just as Sibley describes it). A couple fuzzy photos as it flew off confirmed
        Message 3 of 7 , Apr 24, 2013
          Pulling up to Arthun Pond this evening, Ferruginous Hawk perched on the ground (just as Sibley describes it). A couple fuzzy photos as it flew off confirmed FEHA. Also spotted 5 Marbled Godwits at Cottonwood but couldn't locate the Willets. Thanks for the leads!
          Scott Dean
          Clyde Park

          --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, "steel_rsd" <steel_rsd@...> wrote:
          >
          > Making me jealous I had to work today, would have loved to join you but heading out for an evening stop at Arthun Pond and Cottonwood. I know exactly the Sandhill Cranes you're talking about as I was able to get a nice picture of them standing in the reeds a couple weeks ago. My vote for Arthun Pond and E. River Road as hotspots. Have either of you looked at the small swamp/pond just off the highway at Castle Mtn. Road. Robin Wolcott and I have discussed this and she has had good luck there in the past and I had a Wilson's Snipe even before all the ice was off this year. My tally at that location for the year is over 20 species.
          >
          > Scott Dean
          >
          >
          > --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, Forrest Rowland <rowbird2005@> wrote:
          > >
          > > MOB,
          > >  
          > > This morning Mike Lesnik joined me for a spin through the Shields Valley, including birding the River Road. Highlights along the River Road included a pair of Great Horned Owls at the South river crossing/bridge, and two Northern Shrikes. Upon investigating sightings of Shrikes reported in eBird, it seems we found ourselves in a unique situation, as these dates are doldrums for any Shrike species, with equally few reports of either Northern (late dates 4/25) or Loggerhead (early dates 4/18) variety. The main highlight of the drive was one adult male Harris's Sparrow foraging below the window feeder array of the lovely white house at the corner of River Rd and Falls Creek Rd. This house never fails! On every visit, there has been a surprise waiting at the feeders. In the pond/ditch across the street, at the same intersection, Mike spotted a Sandhill Crane on a nest in the middle of the tiny water there. If it were a snake, I would've been a goner.
          > > Exciting to see a Crane incubating...
          > >  
          > > Our next birding stop was to the Arthun Ranch Pond, previously described by Scott Dean. It was awesome! For starters, we had yet another Northern Shrike on the fence opposite the pond. A fine rufous/dark Ferruginous Hawk put on a show for us, as well! Waterfowl were numerous for such a small body of water (in my opinion) and included two Greater Scaup (1m, 1f), and five Red-breasted Mergansers (2m, 3f). 3 Marbled Godwit were the shorebird highlights.
          > >  
          > > On to Cottonwood Reservoir, where Mike and I observed the largest congregation of Green-winged Teal either could remember seeing in one place (500+). It was astonishing! Wigeons were nearly as staggering, with over 400 present. The large flock of white geese included at least 6 Ross' Goose among the Snow. Grebes were tricking in, while a pair of holdout Barrow's Goldeneye will probably be leaving soon. No less than 16 Marbled Godwits were present, along with 6 Willet! Strafing Golden and Bald Eagles kept us entertained, as we methodically combed through the large number of birds present. As always, it was a great visit.
          > >  
          > > Good Birding,
          > >  
          > > Forrest Rowland
          > > Livingston, MT
          > >
          >
        • Forrest Rowland
          Scott,   I m not familiar with that spot. Where abouts is it? I looked for it just now on GoogleEarth, to no avail. I d love to fit it into the day s birding
          Message 4 of 7 , Apr 25, 2013
            Scott,
             
            I'm not familiar with that spot. Where abouts is it? I looked for it just now on GoogleEarth, to no avail. I'd love to fit it into the day's birding route in Shields. I always have a good time birding up your way, Scott. Good area, for sure. Do you run up Cottonwood Bench Rd, or Lower Cottonwood Bench Road? I saw those on GoogleEarth, and was curious if there was any good riparian access along those?
             
            I'll give you a shout next time I'm thinking on heading your way. Maybe you can ditch work. It'll be our secret...well, and everybody else's on MOB. Haha!
             
            Good Birding,
             
            Forrest

            --- El mié, 4/24/13, steel_rsd <steel_rsd@...> escribió:

            De: steel_rsd <steel_rsd@...>
            Asunto: [MOB-Montana] Re: Shields Valley Birding 4/24 - Harris's Sparrow, Northern Shrikes, Willets and more...
            A: MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com
            Fecha: miércoles, 24 de abril de 2013, 06:44 pm

             
            Making me jealous I had to work today, would have loved to join you but heading out for an evening stop at Arthun Pond and Cottonwood. I know exactly the Sandhill Cranes you're talking about as I was able to get a nice picture of them standing in the reeds a couple weeks ago. My vote for Arthun Pond and E. River Road as hotspots. Have either of you looked at the small swamp/pond just off the highway at Castle Mtn. Road. Robin Wolcott and I have discussed this and she has had good luck there in the past and I had a Wilson's Snipe even before all the ice was off this year. My tally at that location for the year is over 20 species.

            Scott Dean


            --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, Forrest Rowland <rowbird2005@...> wrote:
            >
            > MOB,
            >  
            > This morning Mike Lesnik joined me for a spin through the Shields Valley, including birding the River Road. Highlights along the River Road included a pair of Great Horned Owls at the South river crossing/bridge, and two Northern Shrikes. Upon investigating sightings of Shrikes reported in eBird, it seems we found ourselves in a unique situation, as these dates are doldrums for any Shrike species, with equally few reports of either Northern (late dates 4/25) or Loggerhead (early dates 4/18) variety. The main highlight of the drive was one adult male Harris's Sparrow foraging below the window feeder array of the lovely white house at the corner of River Rd and Falls Creek Rd. This house never fails! On every visit, there has been a surprise waiting at the feeders. In the pond/ditch across the street, at the same intersection, Mike spotted a Sandhill Crane on a nest in the middle of the tiny water there. If it were a snake, I would've been a goner.
            > Exciting to see a Crane incubating...
            >  
            > Our next birding stop was to the Arthun Ranch Pond, previously described by Scott Dean. It was awesome! For starters, we had yet another Northern Shrike on the fence opposite the pond. A fine rufous/dark Ferruginous Hawk put on a show for us, as well! Waterfowl were numerous for such a small body of water (in my opinion) and included two Greater Scaup (1m, 1f), and five Red-breasted Mergansers (2m, 3f). 3 Marbled Godwit were the shorebird highlights.
            >  
            > On to Cottonwood Reservoir, where Mike and I observed the largest congregation of Green-winged Teal either could remember seeing in one place (500+). It was astonishing! Wigeons were nearly as staggering, with over 400 present. The large flock of white geese included at least 6 Ross' Goose among the Snow. Grebes were tricking in, while a pair of holdout Barrow's Goldeneye will probably be leaving soon. No less than 16 Marbled Godwits were present, along with 6 Willet! Strafing Golden and Bald Eagles kept us entertained, as we methodically combed through the large number of birds present. As always, it was a great visit.
            >  
            > Good Birding,
            >  
            > Forrest Rowland
            > Livingston, MT
            >

          • Forrest Rowland
            Scott,   You beat us! We only had 3 Marbleds at Arthun Pond. The Willets were at Cottonwood Res., so you had a clean sweep. Glad the Ferruginous was still
            Message 5 of 7 , Apr 25, 2013
              Scott,
               
              You beat us! We only had 3 Marbleds at Arthun Pond. The Willets were at Cottonwood Res., so you had a clean sweep. Glad the Ferruginous was still hanging out. Cool-looking bird, and always a treat...
               
              Good Birding,
               
              Forrest Rowland
              Livingston, MT

              --- El jue, 4/25/13, steel_rsd <steel_rsd@...> escribió:

              De: steel_rsd <steel_rsd@...>
              Asunto: [MOB-Montana] Re: Shields Valley Birding 4/24 - Harris's Sparrow, Northern Shrikes, Willets and more...
              A: MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com
              Fecha: jueves, 25 de abril de 2013, 01:37 am

               
              Pulling up to Arthun Pond this evening, Ferruginous Hawk perched on the ground (just as Sibley describes it). A couple fuzzy photos as it flew off confirmed FEHA. Also spotted 5 Marbled Godwits at Cottonwood but couldn't locate the Willets. Thanks for the leads!
              Scott Dean
              Clyde Park

              --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, "steel_rsd" <steel_rsd@...> wrote:
              >
              > Making me jealous I had to work today, would have loved to join you but heading out for an evening stop at Arthun Pond and Cottonwood. I know exactly the Sandhill Cranes you're talking about as I was able to get a nice picture of them standing in the reeds a couple weeks ago. My vote for Arthun Pond and E. River Road as hotspots. Have either of you looked at the small swamp/pond just off the highway at Castle Mtn. Road. Robin Wolcott and I have discussed this and she has had good luck there in the past and I had a Wilson's Snipe even before all the ice was off this year. My tally at that location for the year is over 20 species.
              >
              > Scott Dean
              >
              >
              > --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, Forrest Rowland <rowbird2005@> wrote:
              > >
              > > MOB,
              > >  
              > > This morning Mike Lesnik joined me for a spin through the Shields Valley, including birding the River Road. Highlights along the River Road included a pair of Great Horned Owls at the South river crossing/bridge, and two Northern Shrikes. Upon investigating sightings of Shrikes reported in eBird, it seems we found ourselves in a unique situation, as these dates are doldrums for any Shrike species, with equally few reports of either Northern (late dates 4/25) or Loggerhead (early dates 4/18) variety. The main highlight of the drive was one adult male Harris's Sparrow foraging below the window feeder array of the lovely white house at the corner of River Rd and Falls Creek Rd. This house never fails! On every visit, there has been a surprise waiting at the feeders. In the pond/ditch across the street, at the same intersection, Mike spotted a Sandhill Crane on a nest in the middle of the tiny water there. If it were a snake, I would've been a goner.
              > > Exciting to see a Crane incubating...
              > >  
              > > Our next birding stop was to the Arthun Ranch Pond, previously described by Scott Dean. It was awesome! For starters, we had yet another Northern Shrike on the fence opposite the pond. A fine rufous/dark Ferruginous Hawk put on a show for us, as well! Waterfowl were numerous for such a small body of water (in my opinion) and included two Greater Scaup (1m, 1f), and five Red-breasted Mergansers (2m, 3f). 3 Marbled Godwit were the shorebird highlights.
              > >  
              > > On to Cottonwood Reservoir, where Mike and I observed the largest congregation of Green-winged Teal either could remember seeing in one place (500+). It was astonishing! Wigeons were nearly as staggering, with over 400 present. The large flock of white geese included at least 6 Ross' Goose among the Snow. Grebes were tricking in, while a pair of holdout Barrow's Goldeneye will probably be leaving soon. No less than 16 Marbled Godwits were present, along with 6 Willet! Strafing Golden and Bald Eagles kept us entertained, as we methodically combed through the large number of birds present. As always, it was a great visit.
              > >  
              > > Good Birding,
              > >  
              > > Forrest Rowland
              > > Livingston, MT
              > >
              >

            • Mike Lesnik
              MOB, The below reference pond is on the southwest side of the highway about 8.5 miles north of the US 89 bridge over the Yellowstone River. Parking near the
              Message 6 of 7 , May 2, 2013
                MOB,

                The below reference pond is on the southwest side of the highway about 8.5 miles north of the US 89 bridge over the Yellowstone River. Parking near the highway maybe be limited on school days, but more is available 200 meters west at the end of the causeway portion of this stub road to the main Castle Mountain Road.

                This can be the beginning of nice ten mile back-roads loop west and north to the Brackett Creek road, then east into Clyde Park. Caution: most of the three miles from the junction of Canyon Creek Road to Brackett Creek Road is not graveled and seldom maintained.

                Did not find Scott's Wilson's Snipe among the ten species seen from the causeway this afternoon; so that put the dozen or so Yellow-headed Blackbirds to the top of the most interesting list there.

                A Bald Eagle chick in the nest 75 meters west of US 89 about two miles south was the bird of the day.

                Other Gallatin and Park County birds today: female Williamson's Sapsucker at Battle Ridge, Greater Yellowlegs and Common Loon at Cottonwood Reservoir and a single Double-crested Cormorant at the Miller Road pond.

                Mike Lesnik
                Livingston

                --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, "steel_rsd" <steel_rsd@...> wrote:
                >
                > >>>>>>>Have either of you looked at the small swamp/pond just off the highway at Castle Mtn.Road.

                <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                >
                > Scott Dean
              • steel_rsd
                MOB, This continues to be little gem of a birding spot. On a stop a couple evenings ago, I was slightly overwhelmed by the activity and bird song in the air.
                Message 7 of 7 , May 3, 2013
                  MOB,
                  This continues to be little gem of a birding spot. On a stop a couple evenings ago, I was slightly overwhelmed by the activity and bird song in the air. 2 Wilson's Snipe flew overhead several times. About 15 Yellowheaded blackbirds perched on a dead tree in the middle of the pond, constant call of the Red-winged Blackbird, some little brown jobs flying close above the reeds were too quick for me, and my highlight of the evening as a small bird dived into the reeds just 10 feet in front of me. I could not make it out with the naked eye but snapped a few desperation photos. To my surprise, one of the photos revealed the cute little head of a Sora peaking out at me. Mike, try walking down the RR tracks to the pond and look along the shore in the far south corner, you might have luck seeing the Snipe.

                  Among my 2013 list for "Castle Mountain Road Swamp":
                  Belted Kingfisher
                  Hairy Woodpecker
                  Sora
                  Wilson's Snipe
                  Yellow-headed Blackbird
                  Sandhill Crane
                  Ruffed Grouse
                  Song Sparrow
                  Bald Eagle
                  Ring-necked Duck
                  American Wigeon
                  North American Beaver

                  --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, "Mike Lesnik" <vagapaddler@...> wrote:
                  >
                  > MOB,
                  >
                  > The below reference pond is on the southwest side of the highway about 8.5 miles north of the US 89 bridge over the Yellowstone River. Parking near the highway maybe be limited on school days, but more is available 200 meters west at the end of the causeway portion of this stub road to the main Castle Mountain Road.
                  >
                  > This can be the beginning of nice ten mile back-roads loop west and north to the Brackett Creek road, then east into Clyde Park. Caution: most of the three miles from the junction of Canyon Creek Road to Brackett Creek Road is not graveled and seldom maintained.
                  >
                  > Did not find Scott's Wilson's Snipe among the ten species seen from the causeway this afternoon; so that put the dozen or so Yellow-headed Blackbirds to the top of the most interesting list there.
                  >
                  > A Bald Eagle chick in the nest 75 meters west of US 89 about two miles south was the bird of the day.
                  >
                  > Other Gallatin and Park County birds today: female Williamson's Sapsucker at Battle Ridge, Greater Yellowlegs and Common Loon at Cottonwood Reservoir and a single Double-crested Cormorant at the Miller Road pond.
                  >
                  > Mike Lesnik
                  > Livingston
                  >
                  > --- In MOB-Montana@yahoogroups.com, "steel_rsd" <steel_rsd@> wrote:
                  > >
                  > > >>>>>>>Have either of you looked at the small swamp/pond just off the highway at Castle Mtn.Road.
                  >
                  > <<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<<
                  > >
                  > > Scott Dean
                  >
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