Sunday, May 10, 2009

Getting ready for the Avondale Basin hike

In a few weeks I will be leading a birding outing to Avondale Basin, near Silver City in the Owyhee Mountains. Today I went out to check out the area and plan the outing in more detail.

At my first stop, a rest area by the Snake River, the Cliff Swallows were busy gathering mud to make their nests.

At the Silver City road, this sign advised me that it might be a while before the snow was clear on this route.

It was a nice paved road, though ... not the dirt road I remembered from years ago.

I stopped by a small creek, because I hoped I might hear or see a Black-throated Sparrow. No luck. Maybe they don't live here, or perhaps it is too early in the season, or too late in the day. For a moment I thought I saw a Black Phoebe, but this is not within their usual range so it was not likely and the dark flycatcher did not hold still for a good look or a photograph. Just a little distance down the trail I found a very happy Rock Wren couple, singing and gathering nesting materials. One of them paused to pose for a picture.

While driving up to the mountain terrain along the steep, winding road (which did turn to dirt after a few miles) I found some Lark Sparrows. They have a bold facial pattern.

There were colorful flowers beside the road. These paintbrush caught my eye.

After quite a bit of elevation gain, the vegetation changed to sweet-smelling fir and I heard the call of the Mountain Chickadee and Red-breasted Nuthatch. The Chickadee came out on a branch to greet me.

Then a "Road Closed" sign was paired with this warning, so I got out and walked. Not far along, I came upon this 4-wheel drive pickup that had reached its limit. Quite a few cars were parked in this area, and many people were enjoying a Sunday hike in the snow on this warm spring day.

The eroded rock formations were fascinating.

I thought I heard a Chipping Sparrow, and even thought I saw the brownish cap ... but wait, it is a Green-Tailed Towhee!

There were more wildflowers and insects and butterflies.

And, a Chipping Sparrow. I thought I heard one. Perhaps there were some of each calling from the brush.


Bill S. said...

Great report. One of these days I will have to migrate upstate to visit you on one of your birding outings

Anonymous said...

That looks like it will be a fun outing. I'm looking forward to seeing lots of bird pictures!