So Ian is giving me the reins here to document the last leg of our incredible journey west. For those of you who don’t know me I’m Kassie, Ian’s girlfriend of 7 years. It’s been a long and wonderful relationship although most of it has been long distance but we make it work somehow, I suspect God has a had a big hand in that. : ] Ian and I are alike in many ways and that is probably why we get along so well, one of the best parts of our relationship is we both see God in the creation He has given us and there is nothing we enjoy more than being out in His creation.
I’ll give a similar disclaimer to that of Ian’s, I’m not the best writer or storyteller and I make lots of grammatical and syntax mistakes so please bear with me as this is not my strong suit! :S Also I have a feeling this will get rather long since we have done much in the last week, even if Ian said it would be a short one we’ll have to see how long it gets…
Ian left of last time with our stop at Allyson’s in Corvallis, OR. After that amazing stop we drove the left over 8 hours back to Sandpoint, ID on Friday. Sunday we went to Farragut State Park with Sean, Jada, and Dane. The boys played disk golf while Jada, Dane, and I did some biking and hiking. Dane, Ian, and I also played at the playground in the campground. Dane loves the swings and Uncle Griz!
That night we had some awesome venison shish-kabobs over the fire, they were a little messy but so good! It was Dane’s first camping trip and he did very well, we did have to drive him around in the car to get him to fall asleep that night but he definitely enjoyed the outdoors and the s’mores! Dane is 17 months, and has been running since he was 10 months!
The next day, Sunday, it was a rainy morning so we found a picnic shelter to hide under and made a breakfast hash of potatoes, eggs, cheese, and tomatoes. Then we took a couple of short hikes around Lake Pend Orielle before it started to downpour. Ian got nice pictures of a Rufous Hummingbird and a Black-chinned Hummingbird (see chapter 2, http://ianajohnson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/p6240135.jpg, http://ianajohnson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/p6230042.jpg) and managed to get this cute picture with Dane before heading back to Sandpoint.
The next morning we went back to the Pend Oreille Wildlife Area Oden Bay, as our last morning birding trip in Sandpoint. Again the little Calliope Hummingbird was guarding his little patch of land and Ian was able to take those amazing pictures in chapter 2 of him (http://ianajohnson.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/06/p6250012.jpg).
Tuesday we went to Round Lake State Park with Dane and Sean. It was a beautiful little spot. We took the trail around the lake and Ian got some great pictures of a female Goldeneye. i’m not positive if it was Common or Barrow’s they are so similar but here she is with her young of the year. (NOTE FROM IAN: I was walking on ‘solid’ but muddy ground along the lake shore when I went into waist deep mud on the next step. Fortunately, saved the camera!!! :S. Once that happened I decided I enough pictures of the lady with the red head.)
I was pretty excited when I saw them, never having seen a female Goldeneye, I thought it was some species of duck I’d never seen or a hybrid… I got Ian pumped up to until Sean ruined my parade after looking at the pictures he knew exactly what they were… Oh well, still nice to see the little family.
Wednesday, It was time to say good bye to the Johnson family and head eastward again. It was a sad morning but also a bit exciting for the next leg of the journey.
We headed out for Great Falls, MT so we could hit up Benton Lake NWR that night and the next morning. We had a spectacular birding time out there, it was a great site. We saw over 33 species of birds in 2 hours the first night we visited it. Some highlight species for us were Cinnamon Teal, Chestnut-collared Longspur, Upland Sandpipers, Black-crowned Night-Herons, White-faced Ibis, Black-necked Stilt, Ruddy Duck, and Marsh Wrens.
NOTE FROM IAN 🙂 We were treated to an explosive sunset over the hills of the refuge. I, for one, have a preference for sunsets with clouds in them. The oranges, purples and blues were spread for almost 180 degrees. One last meadow lark was singing for the night silhouetted against the array of colors. Pretty!!!
The rest of Thursday was spent driving to Washburn, ND.My old stopping grounds. 🙂 When I was a sophomore in college I spent my summer out at Cross Ranch as a Piping Plover Technician through The Nature Conservancy. Ian and I went to the John E. Williams Preserve by Turtle Lake and walked around some of the lakes I did my research at. It was sad to see how high the water had risen this year! There were hardly any areas with enough beach for the plovers to nest. We saw around 10 pairs on one lake that still had some beach left, but only one chick was spotted. I hope next year will be a little easier on these beautiful little birds.
While the water was too high for plovers it was great for some species of birds I had never seen in this area, a couple of them being Black-crowned Night-Herons (BCNH) and Black Terns. We saw around 30 BCNH in about 2.5 hours! They just kept flying over us from East to West, I’ve never seen so many in my life! Some other noteworthy species were Marbled Godwits, American Avocets, William’s Phalaropes, Willets, Upland Sandpipers, Common Nighthawk, Northern Shovlers, and Northern Pintails.
**NOTE FROM IAN 🙂 : The common nighthawk flying around in the daylight was a real treat! on top of just seeing one in the daylight, he complied with picture taking by flying right over head! The red-eyed bird (you can’t miss it!) is an eared grebe. Their red eye was so intense that it was actually really difficult to photograph because of the saturation.
The warning calls from the shorebirds (NOTE FROM IAN: INCREDIBLE), specifically American Avocet, Marbled Godwit, Upland Sandpiper, and the cute little Piping Plovers brought me back to a summer of being yelled at as I walked and surveyed these lakes. At times it was a bit much to take in when you are being dive bombed by Avocets but I can say I stood tall and never actually got hit by one of those sharp beaks! (They were all pretty good about flying up at the last second ; ] )
After birding we went back to Washburn and stayed with one of my previous supervisor’s, Chris Gordon. We stayed up late chatting and reminiscing with Chris and Karen, we had such a great time! The next morning Ian made crepes and Chris took out some walleye civeche which was amazing. We then had to say good buy as Ian and I headed out to do some more birding this time at TNC’s Cross Ranch Preserve. Before we hit the trails we got to visit with my past boss Eric Rosenquist before heading out. It was so nice to be back in this part of North Dakota, I miss this area with all of its natural beauty, its wildlife, and its down to earth residents. While hiking the trails at the preserve we were hoping to see a Baird’s Sparrow and a Spragues Pipit which have been spotted in the area before but no luck. However, Ian got pictures of a Clay-colored Sparrow and some beautiful Prairie Lilies!
And finally we hit up the last leg of our journey home, about 5 hours back to Perham. We have about a month to relax (and do some summer school here for me) before we head out to another long road trip but this time to Alaska! (NOTE FROM IAN : Looking forward to the AK TRIP! 🙂 🙂 🙂 )
Thank you all for your time I hope you enjoyed Ian’s amazing photographs! More soon!