Join Steve Dougill on a road trip to Idaho to look for owls, view the raptor migration and watch the folks at the Intermountain Bird Observatory capture and band birds. We will be birding at various locations along the way.
Event Type: Field Trip
Open to Non-members: Yes
Members Price: $300
Non-members Price: $300
Start Time: 09/23/2023 07:00 AM
End Time: 09/30/2023 09:00 AM
This is a 7 day trip up to the Boise, ID area with stops for birding along the way. Highlights include stops at the Great Basin NP, Lucky Peak (for the raptor migration and owls), Bear River Refuge and Antelope Island. Steve Dougill is an experienced birder who has birded these locations and will be our guide for the entire trip. There is a $300 fee per person (fully refundable if your registration is cancelled before 8/23/2023) to cover Steve's expenses as well as a donation to the Intermountain Bird Observatory and RRAS. Each person is responsible for their food, lodging, gas and other expenses. Carpooling is encouraged and we will need some higher clearance vehicles for some of the excursions.
Day 1 Saturday, September 23
Travel early from Vegas to Great Basin NP. Meet at 11am at the base of road heading up to Wheeler Peak. Expect a 2 mile hike (mostly flat) at 10,000ft around the lake trails to look for three toed woodpeckers, crossbills, Cassin's finches, nutcrackers. As we descend down the road we enter into the pinyon / juniper forest and will be transitioning from sparrows, bluebirds, sapsuckers and maybe Lewis's woodpeckers to pinyon jays, juniper titmouse and loggerhead shrike. Overnight in Ely.
Day 2 Sunday, September 24
After breakfast we will head north to Boise stopping on the way to check out some wetlands for migratory shorebirds. This is an ideal time to look for Pectoral and Baird's Sandpipers as well as the more common species. Throughout the journey we will keep our eyes peeled for raptors; especially Golden Eagles, Ferruginous and Swainson's hawks and Prairie Falcon. Overnight in Boise.
Day 3 Monday, September 25
We will need an early start to head up the mountain to the top of Lucky Peak by vehicle. This is the location for the Intermountain Bird Observatory field camp and we will watch their morning songbird banding session. Expect a variety of warblers, tanagers, grosbeak, flycatchers, black capped chickadee, towhee, juncos etc. that we will see in the hand and everyone will have a chance to interact with the banders and learn about the science behind it. In the area are high elevation forest birds including grouse and solitaire. In the afternoon we will take a short hike and join the hawk counters to view the hawk migration. Depending who is running the trapping program we may be allowed into the blind to see the raptor trapping process. No matter what, caught birds can be brought up to us to see in the hand and released. We will be at the peak of migration and on a good day 1000 birds might zip by, mostly accipiters but also falcons, eagles and hawks us song birds like swifts and woodpeckers.
We we have supper in Boise before heading back to hopefully witness some owls being caught and banded in the first few hours of the night. Saw whets and flammulated owls are to be expected. Overnight in Boise after a long day
Day 4 Tuesday, September 26
After a more leisurely breakfast we will head back up to Lucky Peak for more of the same.
In the mid afternoon there are some migrant spots along the edge of Lucky Peak Reservoir to checkout. If we missed owls the previous evening we have a chance to return after supper. Overnight in Boise.
Day 5 Wednesday, September 27
After breakfast we will spend a few hours in the Morley Nelson Bird of Prey area to the south of Boise. This is a fantastic area for raptors and sage / grassland species. If we are lucky, we will see burrowing owls and white throated swifts in addition to many raptors. After lunch we will head towards Twin Falls via Hagerman Wildlife Management Area. Overnight in Twin falls
Day 6 Thursday, September 28
After breakfast we head up into the Pike Mountain area to look for the range restricted Cassia Crossbill. Forest birds abound here with sapsuckers (red naped and Williamson's), fox sparrows, green tailed towhees, hummingbirds (calliope and rufous) and grouse. By late morning we will head towards the Great Salt Lake of Utah and spend the afternoon at the Bear River Refuge. This is a vast wetland with a driving loop that will take us through the marsh and pools. Overnight in Brigham City.
Day 7 Friday, September 29
After breakfast we will spend the day on Antelope Island. This is a state park and connected to the mainland by a causeway. Depending on water levels there can be thousands of eared grebes and gulls, and lots of shorebirds. On the island we will visit some migrant traps, look out for the bison and maybe catch a glimpse of the introduced population of sharp tailed grouse if we are very lucky. Porcupines have been seen here.
Participants have the option to leave for Vegas this day but it is suggested to overnight on our final night in Brigham City to drive back to Vegas the next morning.
Day 8 Saturday, September 30 (optional)
Drive back to Las Vegas.