Montana and Wyoming – great finale to a great trip.

6 06 2009
Lewis's Wodpecker - Luke Tiller

Lewis's Wodpecker - Luke Tiller

We finished up the trip with two days in Billings MT. After being shut out of the Beartooth Highway due to snow – on June 2nd!!!!! (which we had luckily already hit for Black Rosy-finch and breeding Pipit) we swung through the Chief Joseph Highway and managed to pick up some nice birds en route including finding a Golden Eagles nest with two accompanying chicks!

After touching down in Billings we wandered in at a leisurely pace, and after a relaxing early afternoon a few of the group decided to roll out to a couple of Billings local birding hotspots. First on the list were the Pictograph Cave State Park. What an amazing place, with stunning scenery (hasn’t it all been?!) and interesting history (see website here). We soaked up the atmosphere (pretending we were Native American’s watching over our Bison herds) and then picked up a few nice birds as we strolled including killer views of the usually skulky Yellow-breasted Chat and we also worked hard for some great view of our first Canyon Wren at a nest site – what a fantastically characterful little bird – the very definition of cheerful!

After that we hit another couple of nice spots including the nice city park Two Moons. In the end we had managed a few better looks at some desirable birds (like Lazuli Bunting) and managed to add a nice Wood Duck to the growing string of sightings. A stop at Lake Elmo was somewhat disappointing but with a flyby Caspian Tern we still had another great day under our belts.

The final day and we had an appointment with Helen Carlson, local birder extraordinaire and she quickly started to produce some of the local specialty birds of the area including such goodies as Pinyon Jay (I love their calls!) at a friends feeders, Chestnut-collared Longspur, McCown’s Longspur as well as such goodies as Says Phoebe.

All in all a simply brilliant trip with loads of great birds, great scenery and most of all great company to what is surely North Americas own Serengeti. If you haven’t considered a trip to Yellowstone yet, start thinking about it right now!

Attached one of my horrible digiscoped pictures of the Lewis’s Woodpecker – better ones to come I hope.

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One response

7 06 2009
lvn600

Sounds like a great trip! I’ve never been birding outside of New England.-One of these days…

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