Long-billed Curlews

April 7: Curlews and Dunlin, Yellowlegs and a Full House of Geese

Yesterday was quite the time to be at the West Valley Ponds Northwest of Kalispell…I had driven up early to search for reported Dunlin there, and started at the Westernmost pond, working my way East. A quick scope sweep at the first pond for shorebirds yielded a single Greater Yellowlegs and plenty of Killdeer. I had good looks at a nice flock of Snow Geese with several Ross’s Geese mixed in, plenty of waterfowl and American Coots and a single, silent Yellow-headed Blackbird for the year list.

Things started to happen when I headed back to the Westernmost Pond. There was a birder there who had passed me on the road earlier, scoping the flats, so I set up shop with him and had the scope on one, then three Dunlin within a few minutes. Distant and in the weeds, we lucked out when they flew and landed in the open much closer. Another birder arrives, and then Dan Casey shows up. This a birder you really want to bird with and he has a demeanor that matches his skill level. Always good to see him arrive on scene. We get four scopes going and a flock of Canada Geese on the far shore gives up 3 Cackling Geese, tiny, with dark breasts, pointed out by Dan, who set to documenting them via digiscope. Minima! That’s a good bird for Montana. Two Greater White Fronted-Geese on the far shore completed the goose bracket for the day and for Montana.

I had a blast with Di on April 2 and 3. Visited the Camas Prairie on Saturday, and within minutes of pulling onto Coppedge Gulch road we had Long-billed Curlews flying over and then displaying for the next ten minutes in the field directly North of us and the sky overhead. Looking right…Say’s Phoebe perched on the fence next to us. Two FOYS, check. We had a nice close encounter with Pacific Wrens on Sunday with one moving around us and blasting out its wonderful, watery staccato song all the while. Also a not so satisfying William’s Sapsucker that we identified by its characteristic drumming.

It’s a beauty of a day here, time to go find something in the valley to add to the year list…..

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