Right now the plan is to head into Idaho where I will spend some significant time looking for Gray Partridge around Rexburg, Camas NWR, and Idaho Falls. Right now it looks as though Camas NWR Refuge will be my best bet. However, accessing it is going to be a physical and financial headache as there is nowhere to stay within 30 miles of the refuge. I will probably have to get a motel in Rexburg for a few nights and commute the 30 miles each way to the refuge until I can find the bird. Given that the route is very flat, I could leave the motel at 6am, reach the refuge at 8am (@15 miles / hour), bird all day, and easily return to the motel by sunset. Any folks in Idado who want to meet me for camping closer to Camas, please contact me! If I can get the partridge, I will be in an incredible position. I will have plenty of time to bow my route out into Washington, dawdle in Coastal Oregon, and maybe even try for previously-thought-impossible northern birds such as Spruce grouse, Boreal Chickadee, and Northern hawk owl. However, this all hinges on my ability to get the Partridge (and Ruffed grouse) in a timely manner (i.e the next 4-5 days). I am also still missing Sagebrush sparrow. I may get this bird while I am looking for the partridge, but I don't want dedicate any time specifically to it since I know I can get it on its wintering grounds in Southern Arizona and New Mexico as I transit back to Texas in November.
I have been staying with my cousin, Flynn, who lives right in Teton village. His location has proved perfect for the birding I have been doing the last 3 days; I have been able to add 1 bird each of the last 3 days using his place as a base. The only remaining bird I could realistically hope to add around here is Ruffed grouse. After I sorted out lodging, route planning, and bird finding beyond Jackson, I headed out for a 6-mile hike along in the foothills of the Tetons this afternoon to look for this bird. It was a really nice hike, but I did not find anything that resembled a Ruffed grouse. I did find Townsend's warbler, Williamson's and Red-naped sapsuckers, Cooper's hawk, Mountain Chickadees, Red-breasted nuthatch, Brown creeper, and American Dipper. I should also mention that I did have 5 Gray jays yesterday since that is only the second time on the trip I had seen those.
Fox as seen from my cousin's porch this morning.
Just managed a quick, backlit shot through fence boards.
American dipper from this afternoon
As I was looking for grouse today, I started thinking about the role that my parents have played in shaping my birding interest over the years. Although they are not birders themselves, they have been incredibly supportive of my birding over the years. While mom was less-than-thrilled when I told her I was quitting my job to ride my bike around the country looking for birds, she has since warmed up to the idea and might, dare I say, be "proud" of me at the moment. I will actually have a lot more to say about my parents, but I think I should save this for the book I hope to write when all of this is over. Hopefully, this serves as a bit of a teaser of things to come in the future!