Posts Tagged ‘Williamson’s Sapsucker’

It was sad to leave Canada on Tuesday, but I was also excited to head back to Montana, a state that I immediately liked when I first arrived earlier in my trip.  Back home in North Carolina a few weeks ago, I had sent a message to Last Chance Audubon in Helena about the possibility of observing Flammulated Owls.  Webmaster Stephen Turner replied to my message.  Not only would he take me to try for the owls, Stephen and his wife, Patty, invited me to stay at their house.

I arrived at the Turner’s home about 3:30 PM, just enough time before dinner for Stephen to take me to look for Gray Partridge at a restricted access property owned by a local land trust.  Two birds flushed from almost under our feet shortly after we started walking down the dirt path.  It was too fast for a photo, but I did see the birds.  That happened so quickly that we still had time for a quick trip to Mount Helena City Park.  I got my life Calliope Hummingbird in North Carolina earlier this year, but I wanted to see an adult male and Stephen knew a spot.  Just as promised, the little beauty was sitting on his favorite perch.  He was just a little too far for good photos, but we did get great looks.

Calliope Hummingbird

Stephen’s birding buddy, Bob Martinka, joined us for a lovely dinner of Patty’s jambalaya, a wonderful change from road food.  We headed out for more birding and went to the Flammulated Owl spot just as it was getting dark.  The birds are heard here every year, but previously they had not been reported before June.  We were happy to hear two Flams calling as soon as it got dark.  And, then another owl starting calling – Northern Pygmy-Owl.  They had never heard it at that location before.  What a fantastic surprise!  One bird flew in to the tree right where we were standing.  While we were not able to see the bird, it was exciting to hear it so close.

The next morning Stephen and Bob took me out to look for Williamson’s and Red-naped Sapsuckers.  The Red-naped Sapsucker was supposed to be the easy bird of my targets in Helena, but we worked hard for both woodpeckers.  But, we did see both and I even got a photo of my life female Williamson’s Sapsucker.  It’s a really bad photo, but special because it’s my lifer and, amazingly, I was even the first to see her.

Williamson’s Sapsucker (female)

With help from Stephen and Bob, I had FIVE life birds in less than 24 hours!  Birders talk about the importance of local knowledge and this proved it for me.  I never would have found any of these birds without their help.  They knew exactly where to go for each of these species.

I am now stuck in Dillon, where I learned late yesterday afternoon what happens to the nice gravel roads when it rains.  I drove to Bannack Bench Road to check it out and nearly got stuck in the glue-like muck.  I had planned to spend the morning on that road, but more rain is forecast, so I’m looking for Plan B.  It’s all part of the adventure!


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