Yellowstone Reports

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The Big Day

Looking for Birds
by Dan Hartman

Jan. 2, 2018

     Back in the summer when my daughter, Cassie, and her husband, Kevin, visited from Philly, we made a vow to have our own little birding contest on New Years Day, 2018.
     Well, yesterday was the day.
     First a little background.  Cassie and Kevin became avid birders after seeing the movie, "The Big Year'.  I've always been a bird fan myself, so a contest made perfect sense.  Just after Christmas, Cassie got transferred to Columbus, Ohio, a pretty good birding area.  However, they were hit with a snowstorm followed by extreme cold.  Maybe this would be an advantage for me?
     I figured Cindy, my partner in this venture, and I could rack up 20 or so bird species, maybe more with a little bit of luck.
     Right away, yesterday morning, we documented stellars jay, clarks nutcracker, hairy woodpecker, mountain chick-a-dee, red-breasted nuthatch and pine grosbeak.  (I guess they gray jays took New Years off.)  
     That makes 6.
     We warmed up the car and headed into Yellowstone.  Soon we had goldeneye duck, bald eagle and magpie and raven.  Surprising we couldnt pick up a dipper.  Farther north, just short of Mammoth we spotted a northern shrike.
     We were now at 11.
     Driving on toward Livingston we found dozens of raptors, problem is they were all golden and bald eagles and rough legged hawks.  So we only added 2 more to our total.
     Swans in the river near Livingston packed our number to 14.
     On Wednesday we had seen hundreds of Canadian geese and a couple northern harriers, but I guess the three day snowstorm had chased them all out.
     Back into Yellowstone again, Cindy spotted a pair of mallard ducks and hunting from a low snag a king fisher.  That makes 16.
     A dipper at the confluence and we reached 17.  Back at the cabin, still no gray jays.  (They are always here!)  But we did pick up a brown creeper and white breasted nuthatch.
     Night time fell and we settled at 19.  Would it be enough to beat Cassie and Kevin?
     Just after 6PM we got Cassies text.  Their number??


View slide show

Rough Legged Hawk


Stellers Jay

Hairy Woodpecker

Red Breasted Nuthatch


King Fisher

Northern Shrike

White Breasted Nuthatch

Brown Creeper