Who Says Mondays Can’t Be Great

I had a day in the field Monday.  Well, sorta.  My photography day began at our bedroom window, which looks out on a feeder that has been frequented by evening grosbeaks every morning for the last week.

male and female evening grosbeaks
Next, re-visited the Lolo Creek burned area to see if I could get photos of a male black-backed woodpecker to go along with the previously captured photos of a female.
Mission accomplished!

black-backed woodpecker on fire charred tree trunk

Next stop, Council Grove State Park, just outside of Missoula, where I’ve known of a great horned owl with three young for weeks, but had not yet visited.  More success.  I won’t always publicly share nest locations, but this is no secret and these owls are staying high enough to be reasonably safe from intrusion.

great horned owl branchling

I then headed north to visit some birding spots in the Mission Valley and make my first trip over Red Sleep Mountain at the National Bison Range.
My first trip through the Bison Range was enjoyable for the scenery and for adding more birds to my day (and year) list, but no photo opportunities.

I wanted my second trip through the Bison Range to be timed somewhat later, so I decided to prowl around county roads in the Mission Valley.  Good thing for this gal I was not just looking for birds, but also paying attention to the road.  She crossed right in front of me, requiring me to hit the brakes hard to avoid hitting her.  She rewarding me for that by showing me her teeth.  Right…???  Okay, maybe she was warning me not to trespass any closer to her den.  I stayed in the car.  Den location won’t be publicly posted.

closeup of badger

closeup of head and shoulders of badger

closeup of badger head

Upon leaving her, and rounding a corner, I had to hit my brakes hard again, this time to avoid hitting a killdeer chick.

killdeer chick

Back at the Bison Range, atop Red Sleep Mountain, I spent some time observing a pair of mating American kestrels in a snag with the Mission Mountains as backdrop.  They copulated moments after this photo.

pair of American kestrels on a snag against backdrop of Mission Mountains

Post copulation, the female sounded scolded the male…

female American kestrel

…seeming to drive her mate into a “yes, dear” submissive pose (yes, terrible anthropomorphizing)

male American kestrel with head

…in actuality, he was looking for something  – and found just what he was looking for.  He dove off the snag and immediately returned with a vole that he gave to his demanding mate.  I was just able to see that action that occurred behind a tree from where I was.  She then returned to the snag to eat the gift vole.

female American kestrel eating a vole delivered to her by her mate

After some time, I moved on, enjoying the gorgeous scenery as I crawled down Red Sleep Mountain.

the slope of Red Sleep Mountain at the National Bison Range blanketed with arrowleaf balsamroot flowers - Mission Mountains in the background

What a Monday!  As for the birding aspect, I finished the day with 54 species.

  • Evening Grosbeak    Back Yard  – Deck feeder
  • Rock Pigeon    Lolo
  • Black-billed Magpie    Lolo
  • American Robin    Lolo
  • European Starling    Hwy 12
  • Western Bluebird    Hwy 12
  • Canada Goose    Hwy 12
  • Tree Swallow    Hwy 12
  • Common Raven    Hwy 12
  • American Crow    Hwy 12
  • American Kestrel    Hwy 12
  • Mourning Dove    Hwy 12
  • Mallard    Hwy 12
  • Mountain Bluebird    Lolo Creek burn area
  • Black-backed Woodpecker    Lolo Creek burn area
  • Northern Flicker    Lolo Creek burn area
  • Dark-eyed Junco    Hwy 12
  • Northern Rough-winged Swallow    Hwy 12
  • Steller’s Jay    Hwy 12
  • Red-winged Blackbird    Hwy 12
  • Belted Kingfisher    Hwy 12
  • Great Blue Heron    Kona Ranch Rd
  • Barn Swallow    Primrose Lane
  • Lewis’s Woodpecker    Council Grove State Park
  • House Wren    Council Grove State Park
  • Common Grackle    Deschamps Ln
  • Yellow-headed Blackbird    Deschamps Ln
  • Northern Harrier    Deschamps Ln
  • Western Kingbird    Deschamps Ln
  • Western Meadowlark    Deschamps Ln
  • Red-tailed Hawk    Arlee
  • American Coot    Ninepipes
  • Ring-billed Gull    Ninepipes
  • Western Grebe    Ninepipes
  • Red-necked Grebe    Ninepipes
  • Double-crested Cormorant    Ninepipes
  • Trumpeter Swan    Ninepipes
  • Gadwall    Ninepipes
  • Northern Pintail    Ninepipe Ln.
  • American Avocet    Ninepipe Ln.
  • Cinnamon Teal    Ninepipe Ln.
  • Marsh Wren    Logan Rd
  • Western Kingbird    Logan Rd
  • Great Horned Owl    West Post Creek Rd
  • Brown-headed Cowbird    West Post Creek Rd
  • Downy Woodpecker    Moiese Store
  • House Sparrow    Moiese Store
  • Wood Duck    National Bison Range
  • Vaux’s Swift    National Bison Range
  • Brewer’s Blackbird    National Bison Range
  • Vesper Sparrow    National Bison Range
  • American Goldfinch    Moiese Store
  • Killdeer    Gallagher Rd – Mission Valley
  • Mourning Dove    Gallagher Rd – Mission Valley
  • Ring-necked Pheasant    Gallagher Rd – Mission Valley
  • Spotted Towhee    National Bison Range

I’ve been back to re-visit the great horned owls.  Yesterday, during my lunch break, I saw the same juvenile with an adult.

great horned owl branchling and adult

In the evening, I returned again.  The owlet above was in precisely the same spot.  In another nearby tree, way up, a sibling was being fed by a parent.  During my lunch break today, I returned again.  The one owlet seems not to have moved in over 24 hours.  I wasn’t able to find either sibling, but did find one adult on the feeding branch of last night.

more photos:  http://www.bigskycountry.net/p499874371 and http://www.bigskycountry.net/p826622402 and http://www.bigskycountry.net/p1056705215


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