Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Aug 5 (Day 217) - More rain, a few more miles, plans for the Pacific Northwest!

Today's ride was basically just a set-up ride for the next few days. Here in Southern Idaho, the sparse spacing of the towns dictates the itineraries for my rides. The 51 miles I rode today are way below what I would prefer to ride on a non-birding day, but several factors prescribed a short ride. First, each of the next 3 days is going to be ~80 miles in potentially heavy rain. Much of it will be along the freeway. It is not going to be fun. I want to start this run with fresh legs. Second, there were some really horrific thunderstorms west of Pocatello this afternoon. I had no desire to ride right into them. Third, there is a very cushy Best Western in Pocatello. This meant I had a nice place to spend the late afternoon and night. 

51 damp miles today

The falls in Idaho falls

Idaho Potato!

Tomorrow I will ride the 78 miles to Burley, and on Thursday I will ride the 74 miles to Bliss. Friday will be the longest of the three days as I plan to push the 95 miles into Boise. I will might take a day off after these long, probably wet rides to check out Boise. I am also ordering some new tires to be delivered to my Boise host's house, and I will need a bit of time to put these on the bike. Sagebrush sparrow is a possibility south of Boise. Maybe I could take a run at that bird on Saturday using Boise as a base. I could also take a run at White-headed woodpecker.

I'm thinking I'll leave Boise on Aug 11 or so. This would give me month to make this loop and find the requisite birds. It would then give me 3 weeks to traverse and bird Northern California before I reach Monterey right around the time the calendar changes from Sept to Oct.

This is VERY rough. My time along coast versus
the mountains depends on how birdfinding goes.

Thinking about the next month, after I knock out Sooty Grouse, Gray-crowned rosy-finch, and Varoed Thrush near Mt Rainier, I will start picking up some really easy birds I head for the WA/OR coast. The following is a list of birds that I can expect to find in my remaining time in Idaho and my time in Washington/Oregon. There are some nesting hawk owls north of Boise. This was a bird I never though I could get this year. They are WAY out in the woods, but most of the roads to reach them are paved. I figure it would cost 2-3 dedicated days to take a crack at them. The habitat would also be good for Spruce grouse, so maybe I'd get lucky on that as well. I think there are better dedicate spots for the grouse though. I think I have to pick either the best grouse spot or the owl spot as I do not think I will have time for both (I have seen each only once before). If I miss the sparrow or the woodpecker in Idaho, I will have more cracks at them in WA/OR. I am confident I will find both of these birds eventually. The only other alternative is to skip the owl and try to make it further north in Washington where I could get Spruce grouse and perhaps Boreal chickadee. Who knows. Let's just get to Burley tomorrow, a'ight?

Idaho (4)
Sagebrush sparrow
Spruce grouse
Northern hawk owl
White-headed woodpecker

Washington/Oregon (31) - Please Email me if you can host me!

With the exceptions of Tufted puffin and Gray-crowned rosy-finch, any of these birds missed in WA/OR can be found in California (yes, I know I could get GCRF in the Sierras in CA, but that would be a detour from my planned coastal route that is not worth making). Mew gull could be found in CA, but I will be on the early side for it. I'll easily get in along the WA/OR coast.

Greater-white fronted goose
Pacific loon
Brandt’s cormorant
Pelagic cormorant
Sooty shearwater
Black oystercatcher
Wandering tattler
Black turnstone
Sooty grouse
Mountain quail
Mew gull
Glaucous-winged gull
Heermann’s gull
Western gull
Pigeon guillemot
Marbled murrelet
Rhinocerous auklet
Common murre
Tufted puffin
Vaux’s swift
Red-breasted sapsucker
Varied thrush
Pacific wren
Chestnut-backed chickadee
Pacific-slope flycatcher
Cassin’s vireo
Hermit warbler
Gray-crowned rosy-finch
Purple finch - Yes, I did miss this in the northeast this winter!

Also, if anyone has any suggestions what to do with and how to handle Northwest crow, let me know.  Not sure if it is worth trying for this "species".........


  1. You're going to get mixed info on the crow, as to whether or not anything Seattle and south is actually NW. Many argue they are all American. But if you extend your route north to Olympia, you might be able to make the argument with some good recordings ;)

    1. Yeah, this is what I figured. I think I probably pass on dealing with it, its too much of a headache!

  2. Northwestern Crow should not be ticked on this route if you have any listing conscience at all. Contrary to Tim's suggestion, voice is definitely not at all a reliable field character for American vs. Northwestern Crow in the PNW. Neither are behavior, habitat, morphology, or range, and preliminary genetic data shows a broad range of introgression from the Puget Sound to Vancouver Island.

    Take all eBird and birder reports of Northwestern Crow in Washington with a huge grain of salt.

    Another bird you'll want to be careful with is Glaucous-winged Gull. You'll want to tick a clean-looking bird as far north as possible on your route.

    1. Totally with you on Glaucous-wing, don't want to count a hybrid!

  3. If you make the ride north from Boise for the Northern Hawk-Owl, how likely are you to see it? In other words, do you have a contact who knows where the nest is and knows that the birds are still being seen? If so, it strikes me that this might be an easier bird to find than Spruce Grouse- I don't know much about this grouse in particular but it certainly seems that other gallinaceous birds have been giving you headaches all year long. Just a thought, if you have to pick one or the other.

    1. I might even get the grouse while looking for the owl!

  4. Dorian

    Back in January when I started following your blog having started it in the North in January (in what turned out to be the snowiest and coldest winter on record) in stead of in the Everglades as did Edwin Teale the famous writer and naturalist who wrote about his adventures as he followed the birds in "NORTH with the Spring" I thought to myself this guy is either a nut or a fruitcake and wouldn't last the month.

    Well that first month came and went and still you persisted despite the cold, snow, wind and rain so I decided to kick in $25 to your cause. Through the next 6 months I've read your blog with baited breath and cheered you on and decided to kick in another $25 to your cause. Now I've made a pledge to myself to kick in $25 for each quarter of the year that you complete your trek. You're more then half way through and have endured the worst of the worst. I'm with you all the way and look forward to the next 5 months of you're reports and would love to kick in another $25 at the end of September as well as in December for Christmas. As the Nike commercial says "Just do it"

    1. Thanks so much Michael! I'll keep on pedaling and writing, you just keep reading and enjoying!