Saturday, June 20, 2009

June In Montana

June is such a crazy month and I can't believe it is almost gone - it feels like it is pretty much done because I still have a bunch of stuff I am trying to cram into the next week or so.

June certainly started out nice despite a rather disappointing spring migration (again). This time it wasn't just me commenting on a lack of birds. This year even the observers in the core of the flyway east of Fort Peck commented on the dearth of migrants. Hopefully it was more a reflection of migration patterns and the weather and the birds just skipped this latitude on their way north.

The Gumbo Lilies or Evening Primrose were in force this spring.

However, my first field trip for the Montana Audubon Bird Festival took place in a light blizzard. This photo looks more like an October or April field trip rather than early June. The primroses were not looking so good this morning.

This photo looks a bit better but it really wasn't. We saw a few birds in the snow and wind, but it was obviously not a good day to make a long list of birds observed. We still had fun though.

The next day held a bit more promise, it was only raining, not snowing, the wind had died down a bit and the trend was improving. There were only four of us after the reorganization of the field trips. We had to cancel my intended destination because of road conditions from all the moisture but it didn't really matter. At our first stop, a mere 10 minutes or so from our origin, the car we were riding in decided it no longer wanted to run. You can see the flatbed towtruck in the background. It was a rather quick morning.

After heading back to headquarters and wrapping up there, I headed down along the river and took some photos of the swallows that were feeding in large flocks along the river. The Cliff Swallows in the nest were much easier to photograph however.

That afternoon I escorted my friend Nina Karnovsky and her student Charlotte Chang back to Glasgow after they flew in to Great Falls from Southern California. Charlotte is volunteering for me this summer and helping with a bird banding program we are trying to get running. This photo was taken later in the week during our first banding session. Yeah, it was a bit buggy but not the worst I have experienced.

We had one day of banding while Nina was here. Here I am banding a bird while Charlotte is recording in our banding station tent (thanks Nina for the photos). You can read more about the project from Charlotte's perspective at the blog Nina's students have set up to discuss their various summer work here.

On our way back from the banding site we found this little guy on the road - a Long-billed Curlew. He has a bit of growing to do (particularly in the beak department).

Mom and Dad were concerned about our intentions but we got the little one off the road and all was well.

Back home we found a nice Garter Snake in the grass outside the front door.

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