Bonner County Century Counts
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May 31, 2005
A team of eight Coeur d'Alene Auduboners eked out 104 species in the face of uncooperative weather during the 2005 Bonner County Century Count. Highlights included Bobolink, Caspian Tern, Solitary Sandpiper and American Bittern.
We stayed Monday night at Schweitzer ski area, and emerged from the lodge in the dawn's early light to what was to be our nemesis for much of the day - high winds. In spite of a few lightning flashes from dark clouds massing above the high ridge of the basin, we set off up the trail, but had to retreat after a half hour when the rain began. We did locate White-crowned and Fox Sparrows, and Wilson's Warbler which as it turned out, we would not encounter anywhere else this day. As we made our hasty retreat back down the mountain, the rain begat a rainbow over the ski bowl that held promise that the day would improve. Giving up on most of our hoped-for high-altitude species, we drove down out of the rain, and around the northeast end of Pend Oreille Lake to Johnson Creek, then birded our way back to Sandpoint via Denton Slough and Sunnyside Road.
At Johnson Creek, we found American Redstart and Northern Waterthrush in addition to Bullock's Oriolle and 2 singing Least Flycatcher. The Western Grebes at Denton Slough treated us to their choreographed courtship rituals. Bobolink were conspicuous along Sunnyside, Shingle Mill and Selle roads. We had checked off 87 species by the time we reached Sandpoint in mid-afternoon, including all the expected warblers and vireos, but we were still short on marsh birds and waterfowl.
At Sandpoint City Beach, a Caspian Tern appeared in a nearby group of Ring-billed and California Gulls that we had already scoped through, and then turned our backs on. From Sandpoint, we headed to Morton Slough to try to fill in some of the gaps on our waterfowl list, and were surprised to find a pair of Solitary Sandpipers foraging along the shore. This is fairly late for this species, and we wonder if evidence of breeding in north Idaho will turn up eventually because we certainly have suitable habitat.
We wrapped up the day in the productive Hoodoo Valley, finding Vesper Sparrows as well as the marsh birds that had eluded us earlier in the day, such as Mash Wren and Yellow-headed Blacbirds. At one stop we had American Bittern, Virginia Rail and Sora all vocalizing. The bittern was a big hit, and brought many attempts at imitation. Our final species of the day was Common Goldeneye on Kelso Lake.
Notable misses were Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers, and Belted Kingfisher. Other expected species that did not make an appearance were Northern Shoveler, Vaux's Swift, Northern Harrier and Mountain Chickadee. We were short on raptors and finches.
This completes our first circuit of the 5 northern counties. We won't be doing a Century Count in Bonner County again until 2010. Maybe the weather will have improved by then. Coeur d'Alene Audubon Century Count Team: Kris Buchler, Janet Callen, Roland Craft, Dick Cripe, Lisa Hardy, Stephen Johnson, Jan Severtson and Judy Waring
June 5, 2010
Seven Auduboners from Coeur d'Alene set out Saturday morning, June 5, for a Big Day of birding in Bonner County, Idaho. After a brief morning rain shower, the weather turned pleasant and we tallied 113 species by dusk.
We started at Johnson Creek at the mouth of the Clark Fork, a rich riparian area, and by the time we headed north out of Clark Fork around 9 AM, we had picked up 63 species. From there, we drove up Trestle Creek to where a snow slide blocked the road, but we had climbed enough by that point to be in subalpine fir habitat. Next we headed back to the lake and birded Highway 200 from the Clark Fork driftyard to Sunnyside. A quick stop in Sandpoint for late afternoon pick-me-up milkshakes and a few urban species, and we headed to Morton Slough, where we reached the 100 mark around 6 PM. Bird #100 was a Black-billed Magpie. We had at that point yet to tally a Red-winged Blackbird, which had us worried and perplexed, but we found them in the Hoodoo Valley, along with most of the other marsh species. We attempted unsuccessfully to find the Say's Phoebes and Sandhill Cranes reported by Earl Chapin a little over a week earlier. A little after sunset, we tallied our final bird of the day, a Common Nighthawk over Granite Lake.
Ducks were in short supply. We had some close calls, including an unidentified accipiter, possible sightings of Say's Phoebes, tentative crossbill flight calls, etc., but only missed a handful of expected common species, namely Ruffed Grouse, Lazuli Bunting, Western Meadowlark, and Red Crossbill. We changed the rules a bit this year to encourage more participation by those who do not usually bird by ear. This resulted in 50 of the 113 species being identified by every team member.
June 6, 2015
Bonner County is usually our most prolific county for finding numbers of species over the past years. This is probably due to the wonderful varied habitats it offers. We have never failed to reach our goal of 100 species and always surpass it. Nine birders participated, one of them a Bonner County resident. Rich Del Carlo is a long-time Audubon Member, master birder and a Breeding Bird Survey monitor. He was invaluable sharing his knowledge of the area and current bird sightings for the county.
We spent Friday having a delicious dinner at Trinity on Lake Pend Oreille before heading to our lodging in Clark Fork. Saturday, June 6, we gathered at 4:30 a.m. in the motel parking lot where we instantly started listing species, beginning with one of many Warbling Vireos. Our itinerary took us across the Clark Fork River to Johnson Creek where we scouted the river, fields and riparian areas. This has always been a reliable route for Least Flycatcher, Eastern Kingbird, American Redstart, Northern Waterthrush and Red-eyed Vireo. A short trip up the mountain along Johnson Creek was well worth it as Black Swifts were spotted soaring above us. This is a little seen species and was a “lifer” for some of the birders.
After gathering many riparian species, we headed along Lake Pend Oreille toward the Trestle Creek bridge. There, just as five years ago, we found an American Dipper, although this one was even better as we watched it feed a juvenile on rocks not far from the bridge. The Trestle Creek Road took us up to higher elevations where we collected species in that habitat, notably Olive-sided Flycatcher, Fox Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow and Hermit Thrush.
Meadows north of Sandpoint yielded our bluebirds and more Bobolinks. A trek south to Westmond Lake did not reward us with the Black Terns we sought. We headed west along the Pend Oreille River to Morton Slough which was rather quiet and disappointing with no shore birds. We headed south on the back roads and I missed a few turns taking us away from Clagstone, our destination. However, we found most of our waterfowl there in small ponds and irrigation channels. As we headed back towards the Hoodoo Valley, Rich spotted a Townsend’s Solitaire which gave everyone a really good look.
The Hoodoo Valley was a gold mine for the day. There were our Black Terns, at least five of them, Yellow-headed Blackbirds and of course, Wilson’s Snipe.
Favorites of the participants: Sally Jones – Olive-sided Flycatcher, Janet Callen – Black Tern, Linda Chalcraft – Cinnamon Teal, Carrie Hugo – Bobolink, Marilyn Robertson – Townsend’s Solitaire, Rich Del Carlo – Townsend’s Solitaire ( a great find), Darlene Carlton – Black Tern, Lisa Hardy – Black Swift, Kris Buchler – Black Swift.
Species - 122 on list 2005 2010 2015 Canada Goose x x x Wood Duck x x x Gadwall x x x American Wigeon x x Mallard x x x Blue-winged Teal x Cinnamon Teal x x Green-winged Teal x x Redhead x x x Ring-necked Duck x x x Lesser scaup x Common Goldeneye x Common Merganser x x x Ruddy Duck x Wild Turkey x x California Quail x x Ruffed Grouse x Red-necked Grebe x Pied-billed Grebe x x x Eared Grebe x Western Grebe x x Double-crested Cormorant x x x American Bittern x x Great Blue Heron x x x Turkey Vulture x x x Osprey x x x Northern Harrier x Bald Eagle x x x Red-tailed Hawk x x x Virginia Rail x x x Sora x x x American Coot x x Killdeer x x x Solitary Sandpiper x Spotted Sandpiper x x x Wilson's Snipe x x x Wilson's Phalarope x Ring-billed Gull x x x California Gull x x x Caspian Tern x Black Tern x Rock Dove x x x Eurasian Collared-Dove x Mourning Dove x x x Common Nighthawk x x Black Swift x Vaux's Swift x Black-chinned Hummingbird x x x Calliope Hummingbird x x x Rufous Hummingbird x x x Belted Kingfisher x x Red-naped Sapsuker x x x Downy Woodpecker x Hairy Woodpecker x Northern Flicker x x x Pileated Woodpecker x x x American Kestrel x x x Olive-sided Flycatcher x x Western Wood-Pewee x x x Willow Flycatcher x x x Least Flcatcher x x x Hammond's Flycatcher x x x Dusky Flycatcher x x Western Flycatcher x x x Eastern Kingbird x x x Cassin's Vireo x x x Warbling Vireo x x x Red-eyed Vireo x x x Gray Jay x x Steller's Jay x x Black-billed Magpie x x American Crow x x x Common Raven x x x N-Rough-winged Swallow x x x Tree Swallow x x x Violet-green Swallow x x x Cliff Swallow x x x Barn Swallow x x x Black-capped Chickadee x x x Mountain Chickadee x x Chestnut-b Chickadee x x x Red-breasted Nuthatch x x x Brown Creeper x House Wren x Pacific Wren x x x Marsh Wren x x x American Dipper x x Golden-crowned Kinglet x x x Ruby-crowned Kinglet x x x Western Bluebird x x x Mountain Bluebird x x x Townsend's Solitaire x Swainson's Thrush x x x Hermit Thrush x American Robin x x x Varied Thrush x x Gray Catbird x x x European Starling x x x Cedar Waxing x x x Northern Waterthrush x x x Orange-crowned Warbler x x x Nashville Warbler x x x MacGillivray's Warbler x x x Common Yellowthroat x x x American Redstart x x x Yellow Warbler x x x Yellow-rumped Warbler x x x Townsend's Warbler x x x Wilson's Warbler x x x Western Tanager x x Spotted Towhee x x x Chipping Sparrow x x x Savannah Sparrow x x x Fox Sparrow x x x Song Sparrow x x x White-crowned Sparrow x x x Dark-eyed Junco x x x Black-headed Grosbeak x x x Lazuli Bunting x Bobolink x x x Red-winged Blackbird x x x Western Meadowlark x Yellow-headed Blackbird x x x Brewer's Blackbird x x x Brown-headed Cowbird x x x Bullock's Oriolle x x Cassin's Finch x House Finch x x x Pine Siskin x x x Ameican Goldfinch x x x Evening Grosbeak x x x House Sparrow x x x Total Species 104 113 112