Meandering around Northern Idaho : Kootenai NWR and Copper Creek Falls

Ahoy! I’ve taken a break from the Alaskan weather and spring to visit my family in Northern Idaho and Minnesota. Northern Idaho is a gorgeous region, and Lake Pend Orielle provides a centerpiece for the surrounding mountains (pictures were taken from the top of Scotchman’s Peak during my visit last summer). During my time there I got to spend some great time with brother, sister-in-law, and nephew whom I had not seen since Christmas.

On a side note, this post falls on the 1 year anniversary of this blog. Thanks all for your support, I’ve really enjoyed writing it and photographing for it, but it wouldn’t be worth it if you didn’t read it. Just in case you are curious, my first post details a dopey porcupine who tried to escape up a short tree :). Thanks all!

Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

A panorama from the auto-road at Kootenai NWR. Ponds, mountains, and ducks. A beautiful spot that is full of life!
A panorama from the auto-road at Kootenai NWR. Ponds, mountains, and ducks. A beautiful spot that is full of life!

One of the great wildlife retreats in the area is Kootenai National Wildlife refuge. Although much of the refuge is not accessible to people, the auto-road brings you back through ponds were you can get great looks at many, many varieties of waterfowl and other birds. I think on this day we saw over 12 species of ducks and a good smattering of other passerines. A first-of-year meadowlark was trilling loudly and several species of warblers bounced through the shrubs. One of the stark and beautiful ducks is the cinnamon teal. This bird’s red head and eye sure make it stand out!

Cinnamon Teal at Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge
Cinnamon Teal at Kootenai National Wildlife Refuge

Wooducks are notoriously elusive and shy. As soon as a camera appears they swim or fly away quickly. However, they are almost undoubtedly one of the most stunning North American ducks. Some may match them, but pretty hard to beat!

Wooduck at Kootenai NWR. These birds are ellusive and camera shy!
Wooduck at Kootenai NWR. These birds are ellusive and camera shy!

There were other winged and flowered wonders during our time at Kootenai NWR. The lilacs were just blooming and this western tiger swallowtail made sure to lick up as much as it could from them. It fluttered back and forth looking for whatever it is that butterflies look for. I was just reading that the Koyukon people of Alaska call butterflies nidinlibidza which means “it flutters here and there”. A fitting name and description!

This tiger swallowtail was feeding on the first lilacs of the year. They are stunning and beautiful!
This tiger swallowtail was feeding on the first lilacs of the year. They are stunning and beautiful!

We also stumbled on these beautiful daffodils. I think these daffodils must be a remnant of homesteading in the region – I doubt biologists are planting them for waterfowl habitat!

I'm not sure where these daffodils at Kootenai NWR came from. Certainly there is a homesteading past there, so perhaps a remnant from that?
I’m not sure where these daffodils at Kootenai NWR came from. Certainly there is a homesteading past there, so perhaps a remnant from that?

During my whole time in Idaho I really enjoyed getting to see my nephew, Dane. He’s a little better than 2 now and is a box full of energy and entertainment. He is (as all little boys are) very curious about all that’s around him. I am sure his parents will continue to raise him outdoors. It was great to see the ‘next generation’ out in nature! I’ll put in my pitch and say if you have a chance to bring a kid outside you should make that a priority!

My nephew, Dane, looks out over the wetlands of Kootenai NWR. Although he wasn't interested in all of the birds, he loved seeing the baby geese!
My nephew looks out over the wetlands of Kootenai NWR. Although he wasn’t interested in all of the birds, he loved seeing the baby geese!

The deer have just finished shedding their coats, and some deer are futher into their summer coats than others. I saw a spectrum of coat quality from smooth coated to scrubby deer, which makes you wonder why some are later than others.  We also observed two moose at Kootenai, which was nice! I doubt the moose are enjoying the warm temperatures. Moose in Idaho exist at temperatures which are extreme to them, and do not extend much further south.

The deer have not quite finished shedding their coats look pretty scraggly yet. This one's face says, "HEY!, what are you looking at?" :P
The deer have not quite finished shedding their coats look pretty scraggly yet. This one’s face says, “HEY!, what are you looking at?” 😛
This moth was along the trail to Myrtle Falls at Kootenai NWR. I'm not sure why it was perched so still at the end this stick. The brown and tan banding sure is pretty when you get close to it!
This moth was along the trail to Myrtle Falls at Kootenai NWR. I’m not sure why it was perched so still at the end this stick. The brown and tan banding sure is pretty when you get close to it!

 Copper Creek Falls

Copper Creek Falls, especially in the rush of the spring melt, is one of the most stunning waterfalls I have seen. The drop is uninterrupted and pluges 160 feet to the bottom. However, with some of the smaller rapids, I think the total drop in the falls is 225 feet! A strong, cool, and moist microclimate around the falls is filled with glistening green moss. Further downstream we observed a varied thrush, which are often found in riparian areas.

Copper Creek Falls drops 160 feet to the bottom. It is an incredible rush of water!
Copper Creek Falls drops 160 feet to the bottom. It is an incredible rush of water!
All of us posing in from of Copper Creek Falls before rushing away from the cold mist fall on us :)
All of us posing in from of Copper Creek Falls before rushing away from the cold mist fall on us 🙂

I will leave you with a peaceful morning in the Sandpoint Region. The morning fog over the lake was changing and undulating rapidly. How fog forms is fascinating to me! I have no included any music in this timelapse (which documents about 30 minutes of time), but imagine birds chirping and watching deer feed in the field hundreds of feet below you 🙂

4 thoughts on “Meandering around Northern Idaho : Kootenai NWR and Copper Creek Falls”

  1. I really enjoy reading about all that you do. The bird sights are of particular interest to me. Thank you for sharing your experiences and insights. Much appreciated. It’s like a having National Geographic at my fingertips.

  2. Ian, Wildlife photos are incredibly fine, clear, original, & oftentimes poignant. I am truly grateful to be a recipient of your labors.

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