Wednesday, July 30, 2014

July 29 (Day 210) - Arrival in Jackson, Trumpeter swan for #510

The ride from Alpine, WY to Jackson WY was fantastic! The first ~25 miles of the ride paralleled the Snake River as it wound it way West beneath me. Route 26 was perched high on the mountain slope and afforded sweeping views of the valley and the river with its countless rafters. Bald eagles were spotted at several locations, and red crossbills could be heard buzzing overhead throughout the ride. Once I got closer to Jackson, the valley flattened out. Steep slopes were replaced with lush meadows dotted with ponds. It was in one of these roadside ponds that I was able to find year bird #510 in the form of a family of 4 Trumpeter swans. They were quite a bit back from the road, but the fuzzy little cygnets looked quite cute even from this large distance. As It was raining most of the day, I decided to forgo photos. I found 2 more swans closer to Teton Village; I am hopeful I will get some with shooting distance when its not raining at some point. 

Rafters on Snake River

Trumpeter swan was the most crucial bird here in Jackson as this is the only crack I would have at it. The irony is that it is by far the easiest of the birds I would like to find here. After the heavy afternoon rain cleared, I searched without success for Black-backed woodpecker and Great gray owl in Teton National Park. Both of these species can be seen in the Jackson area, but both will take luck to find in the 2-4 days I am willing to spend here. I visited a good looking burned area from which the woodpeckers has recently been eBirded, and I will revisit this spot tomorrow. There are evidently several owls hanging around, but the people who know exactly where are being understandably protective of the birds; It only takes a few morons to ruin it for everyone.  It turns out that Boreal owl is also a possibility around here, but I am not 100% comfortable being out at night on a bike by myself in a remote area with a sizable bear population (For unbirders - Great gray owl can be reliably found during the day, Boreal owl cannot). It would be nice to get some local help, but I think I am going to be on my own for the next few days. We'll see how it goes......

A meadow where a Great gray owl has supposedly been seen

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