Thursday, April 12, 2012

Barrow's Goldeneye
As we were driving across the western part of Montana on our way to Oregon, we noticed there were ducks in the ponds and river along the Interstate. Simon was keeping him eyes peeled for a Hooded Merganser; the only merganser we need for our Big Year, we he spotted something different. As he pulled the semi on the side of the road I got the camera ready, as we walked over to the pond we spotted a pair of Mallards. I was a little disappointed, but Simon said that wasn't what he saw just then another pair of ducks came into view; Barrow's Goldeneye! A new lifer and a new big year bird!

Northern Flicker and European Starling
We had planned to stop at a rest area outside of Missoula, MT, but it was closed. I did an eBird search for Clark's Nutcracker and found a sighting the day before just a few miles up the road and right off the interstate! So we pulled off the interstate and parked on the off ramp, then caught sight of a Northern Flicker and a European Starling fighting over a nest hole in an old dead tree. The part that is funny about this is this tree looked to have quite a few nest holes, but the Starling won in the end. The Flicker was really trying to get in there I'm unsure of who's nest it was or if Flickers eat eggs, if they do I've never heard of it before.

Northern Flicker and European Starling

The gps coordinates that was on eBird looked to be across the road, but we were hearing a lot of bird activity so we decided to stay on this side. There was a river with a little bridge as we walked over that we heard a call and found what was making the call; another Northern Flicker. I am not the best at remembering bird calls, but Simon is a little better at remembering than me. There was a dead end road that had trees lining both sides that we walked down. We saw all the usual birds American Robins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Northern Flicker, White-breasted Nuthatch, and Downy Woodpecker.
Clark's Nutcracker

We came about half way down the road and Simon spotted a Clark's Nutcracker! I tried to get a good picture with my camera but it was sunny out and I had my camera set wrong! So all my pictures came out way to bright. Simon got some good pictures but the bird flew away before I could get it set correctly and we tried to locate it but no luck. Simon had given up searching the tree tops for the Nutcracker and he thought he had heard some ducks. He was about to take a picture when they flew to the other side of the road and he was unsure of what they were.

So we decided to head back to the truck when we heard a call that sounded like a wren. We stayed there for a little bit, but the bird never made an appearance. We moved on, making our way to the truck, when we saw what looked like some kind of a Warbler. We tried to get that little guy, but we couldn't wait any long. We did not notice any yellow on this bird.; that one got away.

Two new bird is not that bad at all! We are now up to 229! Happy Birding!!!


  1. This is such a good idea! I'm a beekeeper that haul my hives in between California-Washington and North Dakota...and you can bird from a semi. I once drove the loop at Camas Wildlife Refuge in my Freightliner for a lifer trumpeter swan, in can be done. You are breaking the "I'm a dumb redneck" trucker stereotype by doing this blog, keep up the good posts!

  2. Wow, Trumpeter Swan I'm jealous! We drive our Freightliner to most of the places that we can drive it through, even take the trailer sometimes. LOL! Sometimes we get some weird though! How long have you been birding? If you drive WA to ND and want a nice rest area to bird you should stop at the Montana Mile Marker 71 on Interstate 90. Here's a link to what we saw there~

    Where is that Wildlife Refuge where you saw the Trumpeter Swan? Thanks for checking out my blog!

    1. That rest area was in Idaho about 20 miles north of Idaho Falls on I-15. I think I have stopped at that one before in Montana. Jealous of your Tennessee rest area stop!

  3. Next time we go through that way we will have to check that out! Tennessee has supplied us with a nice amount of birds!