Sunday, September 30, 2007

2007 Idaho trip - Day 4

21 August 2007

Our second day in the Idaho panhandle was spent birding, of course. We went to a couple of lakes and walked trails or just found good spots for viewing.

The first stop was a glacial kettle lake called, "Round Lake." The highlight here was osprey watching. There must have been some good osprey target fish in this lake because the pair of ospreys we watched were very successful at catching them.

We were also hoping to see some eagles, but I don't think we did at this particular location. Steve's watching the osprey fish.

There was a huge patch of skunk cabbage along one of the trails we walked at Round Lake. It's aptly named.

We saw a couple of other interesting birds at Round Lake. One was the red-breasted nuthatch. The other was the chestnut backed chickadeee - a life bird for both of us.

Our next stop was an old growth grove of Western Red Cedar and White Pine. This sign tells you a little bit about the site.

Even though the trail was only a short loop, there was a place for signing in.

The trees are majestic. There's just something magical about being in an old-growth patch of forest. The sounds are different as are the scents. The ground is covered in a deep layer of duff and you see plants and animals here that don't occur together in frequently logged sites.

The area was named for one of the original settlers to the land. You can click on this image to read the sign.

Magic - simply wonderful!

The bark has a very interesting textural quality.

We had the grove to ourselves for about an hour and then a group of noisy people arrived and spoiled the setting. Sigh.

The white pine was the tree commercially logged in this area. Some of these escaped the 1926 fire as well.

White pine bark.

White pine cone.

Some eye candy. I love the contrast in colors and textures one finds in this type of forest.

More eye candy from the architecture of this fern frond.

The air was very still and you could see small bits and pieces floating in the air where the sun broke through the canopy to shine on the forest floor below.

The nutrient cycle in full swing as these fungi are breaking down a standing dead tree.

Walking on the forest floor is like walking on a deep carpet of springy foam. The duff layer must be a foot deep or more.

After the noisy people arrived, we left and drove over to Priest Lake. I got a kick out of this sign reminding drivers to drive slowly.

The island across from where we stopped has a campground, which is accessible by boat and kayak.

It sure was a beautiful setting. I'd like to come back here again someday and do some camping.

I'm not sure what this little bird was -perhaps a western wood peewee? Anybody recognize it and want to leave a comment to tell me what it is? We saw this bird at Albeni Dam - our last stop of the day.

We walked down below the dam because I had spotted some waterfowl that needed a closer look. Here's a yell0w-rumped warbler giving us a good look, too.

The waterfowl turned out to be common mergansers. They always seem to swim in this kind of formation. On our last day of the trip, we watched a group of them working the Boise River - they'd all dive in formation and all came back to the surface with a fish in their beak.

And, of course, the ubiquitous osprey. We saw dozens and dozens of osprey in Idaho.

The big treat of this day was the rainbow at the end of our travels. We were driving in rain as we returned to Sandpoint and the double rainbow appeared as the sun broke through the cloud layers near sunset time.

We drove over to the sandy beach area of Sandpoint to take it all in. It was such a spectacular rainbow.

You can see the double here.

This is a view of part of the Sandpoint marina.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

2007 Idaho trip - Day 3

20 August 2007.

We stayed at the Lodge at Sandpoint for three nights - a very nice place to be in northern Idaho. We had a one bedroom apartment on the fourth floor of the lodge and the view was very nice. The lodge is on the south shore of Lake Pend Oreille. The bridge there to the right is for Hwy 95 and it goes to Sand Point.

We brought the rain with us (again) and spent the first couple of days with showers or drizzle. Everyone up there was pretty happy about the rain, especially given the severe fire season they had been having.

This is a view of the balcony area of our rental. It was really peaceful here. We spent a bit of time just sitting out there and taking in the morning sights or evening scenery.

We did our first birding trip up north to Kootenai Wildlife reserve. There's a short path near the ranger station and this was one of the first signs of birds - drill holes from a sapsucker.

Not birds, but I did enjoy seeing the water skippers. I've not seen many of these in Ohio, but I do remember seeing them all the time in the Pacific Northwest as I was growing up here.

The reserve was on a low water regime during our visit - not as good for birding, but we did see a lot of variety of species. It would have been much better if the water had been up and flooding the flats.

We walked a trail to a waterfall on the edge of the reserve. It was really a nice place. I got a kick out of all the warning signs about how treacherous the trail was supposed to be. After all the interesting places I've hiked in South Africa, this trail was pretty mild by comparison.

We were hoping to see an American Dipper along this stream, but we didn't even see any sign of it (i.e., no bird guano on the rocks).

Steve spent a lot of time looking, though.

I really like the sound of water tumbling over big rocks.

I'm not sure what this plant is, but it was all over the rock wall across the ravine from us.

The rock was covered in plants - very tranquil to see.

This seems like perfect habitat for a dipper, but not a one in sight. Oh well.

I thought I had more pictures from the reserve, but I guess I was too busy making use of my new spotting scope to bother with the camera. We saw a lot of different species of ducks, some raptors, and lots of geese (300 at one spot), but not much else up at the reserve.

Friday, September 21, 2007

2007 Idaho trip - Day 2

19 August 2007. Our second day in Idaho was a travel day between Boise and Sandpoint - about 500 miles of a two lane highway.

We followed the Payette River for a couple of hours, which brought back a lot of memories for me. I used to drive this stretch of road between Boise and McCall quite often when I lived in Idaho during the late 1970's. I love the sound of the river and the smell of the forest.

There were a few fires going on in the area so one of the dominant scents in the region was smoke from burning forests.

We saw this bald eagle along a calm stretch of water. What a treat! It was just a few hundred feet from us and we had a wonderful view of it as it took off in flight.

I have a better appreciation of how large these birds are after seeing this wing span.

Magnificent, yes?

We saw a huge number of Ospreys while we were in Idaho. We stopped at a wetland reserve just south of McCall and saw about six active nests in a small area of the reserve.

These are also pretty spectacular and I'm really glad to see them doing so well in numbers.

We walked along a road that divided the lake and kept scaring up the same eight Wilson Snipes. You can follow them in flight, but as soon as they land you can't see them, they are so well camouflaged against the background. It's pretty amazing.

Lesser Yellowlegs.

A couple of dozen American White Pelicans were in the wetlands and gave us a good show as they took off in flight.

They look pretty awkward in flight, but I always enjoy seeing them.

Ospreys bite off the heads of the fish before aligning them along the length of their bellies for flight. They seem to be pretty successful at catching fish.