Saturday, April 24, 2010

Snowmelt Ponds Attract A Wide Variety Migrating Waterfowl

Each spring snowmelt ponds attract legions of migrating waterfowl and shorebirds. In our area the upper Big Hole is at times nearly wall to wall running and ponded water and every sort of water bird imaginable eventually shows up there. Though viewing wise, yesterday was on the slow side compared to most early spring days.

But still we spied numerous teal, such as this pair of cinnamons as well as blue and green winged, widgeon, pintails, goldeyes, Canada geese, northern shovelers and probably a few ringnecks, although too far out to really make a positive ID. In addition we saw several pairs sandhill cranes (like the water birds not nearly as many as usual), numerous hawks (ferruginous, northern harriers, one redtail, several ospreys) and a couple golden eagles. Songbirds other than ubiquitous robins and redwing blackbirds and non-descript sparrows and such (non-descript in that we did not take time to ID) were also for some unknown to us reasons in short supply also. Maybe too early who knows? Ravens and magpies were of course everywhere and so were antelope, most of which, especially in the morning, were on the move. Though we didn't see any elk we did spy several big bunches of mule deer. Add one pile fresh moose turds not far from Miner Creek and as you can see the day weren't all bad.

Still too early for a real wildflower show but we did see sagebrush buttercup and a small penstemon blooming. And while the occasional willow was laden with pussies most were still barren?

Surprising to us the upper Big Hole was not at all as high and off-color as usual. Actually quite fishable but alas we had the dogs along and didn't feel like dealing with the usual chaos their first fishing trip of the year always brings. Maybe next time. 

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