Sunday, August 23, 2015

Idaho - August 2015

In August we took a week off to journey to Northern Idaho to visit family and to visit Glacier National Park to find Mountain Goats (hopefully).  This blog post will contain highlights of our time in Idaho and the next will contain the highlights from Glacier.

My folk's place in Idaho is on Lake Coeur d'Alene which has always been a beautiful setting but was never a great location for wildlife until the last 5 years or so.  Now, it is truly a wildlife destination for us and this trip didn't disappoint.

Multiple Striped Skunk families have taken up residence near our house in the last few years and this year was no exception.  The problem is they move so fast during the day that it's nearly impossible to get a good shot of them:

The White-tailed Deer were also abundant in our yard.  There were multiple does with fawns that hung around while we were there:

They like to eat the fallen apples but have a hard time getting them positioned in their mouths correctly leading my sister to coin the phrase "Apple Mouth":

The birding on this year's trip was pretty good.  Besides the numerous birds that came to our deck attracted by the gallons of seed my Dad puts out, we had some good looks at birds from our daily evening drives as well:

Song Sparrow:

Black-capped Chickadee:

Lineated Woodpecker:

Northern Flicker (I finally got one to stay still for me after YEARS of trying):

Black-headed Grosbeak:

As I mentioned, we took evening drives along the Couer d'Alene River. Over the years, we have found a few very reliable roads for critter watching but the low light in the evenings makes wildlife photography next to impossible.  For the record, our drives resulted in the following sightings:

- Osprey (the population is thriving in this area which is great to see)
- Juvenile Bald Eagle
- Beaver and likely a Muskrat as well
- Wild Turkey
- California Quail
- White-tailed Deer
- Red Squirrel
- Moose (there were at least two in the area while we were there)
- Snowshoe Hare
- Yellow-pine Chipmunk
- Ruffed Grouse

But the true highlight was seeing our first Black Bears in Idaho.  The first sighting was of a little cub:

As soon as the bear saw us it moved up the hill.  So, we stopped the car and waited about 15 minutes before slowly making our way up the road in the car.  But, there was no sign of it.  Unfortunately, that was our only sighting of the cub and we never did see mama.

Later on in the trip, we did see an adult Black Bear with no cubs high up in a meadow. Furthermore, bear scat was pretty prevalent on the roads so either there are quite a few bears around or there is one that is VERY regular.

The only low light of the trip to Idaho was all the smoke from the Washington forest fires that was blowing in.  It made walking and hiking unhealthy which is why we spent time driving around.  We hoped that it would be better in Glacier...but it wasn't.  Still, it was a great trip and we will be back next year.

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