Boundary County Century County
See chart of birds found at the end of the articles
May 30, 2004 - no write-up
Peregrines and Bobolinks
It is hard to pick the highlight of our June 6th Century Count but the accommodations rank right at the top. Ripley Comegeys donated his Selkirk House to our chapter for two nights of luxurious comfort which eased the pain of rising at 4:00 a.m. and birding until almost 9:00 p.m. The birds that came with the house and property were unbelievable. In the past, we would rejoice in one Least Flycatcher. We tallied 6 before we ever left the grounds.
Our trip began the day before where participants gathered at the home of Janet Callen. Roland and Pat Craft drove their camper while Janet, Peggy Albertson, Derek Antonelli, Kris Buchler, Lisa Hardy, Jan Severtson and Linda Wright carpooled to dinner at Papa Byrd’s in Bonners Ferry. After unloading at Selkirk House and meeting Ripley, we took a walk around the many acres of grounds, scouting for the morning. Linda delighted in feeding the trout in the pond.
Beginning at 4:30 a.m. in the early predawn, we tallied 26 species on the property in 1 ¼ hours. Driving south along Deep Creek, we picked up our American Dipper from a bridge across a bubbling brook. The Bobolinks were bobbing along near the road and we soon turned east along the south side of the Kootenai River. Lisa and Kris had done bird surveys for IDFG 3 years ago and became familiar with this route. Sure enough, we picked up a Lazuli Bunting just where we remembered seeing one years ago and everyone got good looks. We explored some spectacular real estate on a bluff above the river and at the foot of Two Tail Mountain. Although Peregrine Falcons are known to nest on the cliffs visible from there, we could not find them but managed to net some other species.
Cruising to Boulder Creek on the Idaho-Montana border, we passed up likely spots to target the Hermit Thrushes we remembered from our bird surveys. They did not disappoint us. Several were heard and our explorations to the ghost town of Boulder City and its cemetery produced two great warblers – Wilson’s and Nashville. This was all new territory for most of the group and they found the old cemetery and history quite fascinating. Heading back to Bonners Ferry at just the right time snagged one of our target birds, the Peregrine Falcon. Derek called out a large bird soaring up from the cliffs of Two Tail as we neared the curve to head down the mountain. We had found our falcon at last!
The sewage ponds of Bonners Ferry gave us several waterfowl we were still missing and the much sought-after House Sparrow was in town. We soon headed north to the Copeland Bridge where we picked up several swallow species and other waterfowl along Westside Road. Boundary Creek was rather quiet late in the day but we scored with Black Tern, Marsh Wren and Virginia Rail. The Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge gave us two hummingbirds with its many feeders. The Vaux’s Swifts were located not far from the Ball Creek Ranch where they nest in the chimney.
Tired and with fading light, Lisa suggested we stand for a few quiet minutes near the banks of the Kootenai River and hope for a common Nighthawk. Sorceress that she is, it didn’t take more than 3 minutes before Janet Callen spotted one fluttering over our heads for bird #102.
Rejoicing, we quickly piled into the cars and headed back to our waiting dinner and wine, showers, and wonderful space at Selkirk House. This is a rental house and available to birders. Ripley Comegys manages the property for wildlife and it is a wonderful setting for birds, moose and serenity. We are very grateful for his generosity.
Big Day Century Count. What are they? They are basically the same thing. They are counts usually conducted in a 24-hour period where birders strive to locate as many species as possible. Our Coeur d’Alene birders have traditionally done a Century Count where we hope to find 100+ species of birds from predawn to dark. We’ve been doing this count since 1995.
Boundary Count called to us this year and we were lucky to make the Selkirk House our headquarters for early birding as well as lodging on June 6 and 7. It is on several hundred acres along Deep Creek in the valley on the south end of Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge. Since this is a count for fun, we began with dinner on Friday night at the Kootenai River Brewery in Bonners Ferry. The house slept seven of us comfortably for a 4:30 a.m. start on Saturday. We birded the area until 6:00 a.m. and then headed for the refuge. We already had 5 species of flycatchers and 5+ species of warblers with numerous others before we left the Selkirk House. A cow moose and her calf peeked at us from behind cottonwoods while we listened to American Redstart.
Two cars with 7 birders made it easy to get around. The refuge was naturally rich in the early morning and the numbers started adding up. Bald Eagles nest there and we collected views of all the teal and other ducks, with only Pied-billed Grebe of that family. As the morning wore on, we headed north on Westside Road to Ball Creek Ranch (a Nature Conservancy preserve) where we heard and saw many Eastern Kingbirds and an elusive Clay-colored Sparrow. We found the Wilson’s Phalarope at Boundary Creek Wildlife Management Area right where Lisa Hardy said it would be. After a trek up Smith Creek to higher elevations we searched the agricultural areas for those hidden Long-billed Curlews that continued to elude us. However, we saw an interesting confrontation between two kingbirds, Eastern and Western, who had been perched a foot or so from each other on a wire fence. They suddenly decided to “duke it out”. Further along we saw Say’s Phoebe.
An area just north and above the Kootenai River west of Highway 95 was fairly rich, giving us Pygmy Nuthatch, Mountain and Western Bluebird and a great view of Western Tanager
We almost ended the day south of Selkirk House looking in fields that border Deep Creek. Here Bobolinks bobbed up and down from grasses and shrubs. These were first time birds for a couple of birders. The final hour of the day was going up Myrtle Creek Road to an overlook which gave us a 180 degree view of the Kootenai Valley and refuge
The wine was opened back at the house with a longed for dinner and everyone rallied for a game of Scattagories before we fell into bed.
We had some interesting misses -- Barn Swallow, Red-breasted Nuthatch, Mountain and Chestnut-backed Chickadees, Wilson’s warbler, Cassin’s Finch, Pine Siskin, and no accipiters or owls. We want to thank Jan Rose and Rich Del Carlo who provided guidance and knowledge of Boundary County.
Gung-ho participants were Lisa Hardy, Sally Jones, Carrie Hugo, Linda Childcraft, Jim and Sheelagh Lynn, and Kris Buchler. Next year’s count will take place in Bonner County.
Did we reach our goal of 100 birds? We had an amazing total of 107 birds! Of those, 105 were seen and heard by half the participants and 74 were seen and heard by everyone on the count.
Chart - missing 2004 numbersChartCh
Species - 123 Total 2004 2009 2014 Canada Goose x x Wood Duck x Gadwall x American Wigeon x Mallard x Blue-winged Teal x Cinnamon Teal x Northern Shoveler x Green-winged Teal x Redhead x x Ring-necked Duck x x Lesser Scaup x Common Goldeneye x Bufflehead x Hooded Merganser x x Common Merganser x x Ruddy Duck x x Ring-necked Pheasant x x Ruffed Grouse x California Quail x** Wild Turkey x Pied-billed Grebe x x Great Blue Heron x x Turkey Vulture x x Osprey x x Bald Eagle x x Northern Harrier x x Sharp-shinned Hawk x Red-tailed Hawk x x American Kestrel x x Peregrine Falcon x Virginia Rail x x Sora x x American Coot x x Killdeer x x Spotted Sandpiper x x Wilson's Snipe x x Wilson's Phalarope x Black Tern x x Rock Pigeon x x Eurasian Collared Dove x Mourning Dove x x Common Nighthawk x x Vaux's Swift x Black-chinned Hummingbird x x Calliope Hummingbird x x Rufous Hummingbird x x Belted Kingfisher x Downy Woodpecker x Red-naped Sapsucker x* Northern Flicker x x Pileaed Woodpecker x x Western Wood-Pewee x x Willow Flycatcher x x Least Flcatcher x x Hammond's Flycatcher x x Dusky Flycatcher x Western Flycatcher x* x Say's Phoebe x Western Kingbird x Eastern Kingbird x x Cassin's Vireo x x Warbling Vireo x x Red-eyed Vireo x x Steller's Jay x* Black-billed Magpie x x American Crow x x Common Raven x x Tree Swallow x x Violet-green Swallow x x N-Rough-winged Swallow x x Bank Swallow x x Cliff Swallow x x Barn Swallow x Black-capped Chickadee x x Chestnut-backed Chickadee x Red-breasted Nuthatch x Pygmy Nuthatch x House Wren x x Pacific Wren x Marsh Wren x x American Dipper x Golden-crowned Kinglet x x Western Bluebird x Mountain Bluebird x x Veery x x Swainson's Thrush x x Hermit Thrush x American Robin x x Gray Catbird x x European Starling x x Cedar Waxing x x Orange-crowned Warbler x x Nashville Warbler x x Yellow Warbler x x Yellow-rumped Warbler x x Townsend's Warbler x x American Redstart x x Northern Waterthrush x x MacGillivray's Warbler x x Common Yellowthroat x x Wilson's Warbler x Western Tanager x x Spotted Towhee x x Chipping Sparrow x x Clay-colored Sparrow x Savannah Sparrow x x Song Sparrow x x Dark-eyed Junco x x Black-headed Grosbeak x x Lazuli Bunting x x Bobolink x x Red-winged Blackbird x x Western Meadowlark x x Yellow-headed Blackbird x x Brewer's Blackbird x x Brown-headed Cowbird x x Bullock's Oriolle x x Cassin's Finch x** House Finch x x Pine Siskin x Ameican Goldfinch x** x House Sparrow x
* one observer
** 2nd day