Sacajawea Audubon

Ennis Lake Field Trip Report

All fourteen of the participants on the October 20th Ennis Lake field trip had a great day at the lake, with many opportunities to study the different species of waterfowl.  The predicted snow or rain never materialized, and the wind was manageable.

The loon migration was near the peak, with over 70 Common Loons counted.  Along with the many nice views of the loons, we were also able to get plenty of close-up looks of Western, Eared, and Horned Grebes for comparison.  The numbers and variety of ducks did not disappoint, with 14 species spotted among the huge rafts of waterfowl spread across the lake.  Several Barrow’s Goldeneye were found along with Common Goldeneye.  On two occasions it was instructive to have Common and Red-breasted Mergansers side by side in a flock.

At the bridge in the northwest corner of the lake, many Bald and Golden Eagles of all ages put on a spectacular show.  What a thrill to watch them soar effortlessly on the wind.

Along with numerous Ring-billed Gulls, there were two California Gulls and an immature Herring Gull.  Best of all were the half dozen or so Bonaparte’s Gulls.  The buoyant tern-like flight of these small gulls was a joy to watch.

-John Parker


Ennis Lake Waterfowl Field Trip – Saturday, Oct. 20th

Green-winged Teal (Photo by Ed Harper)

This should be near the peak time for migrating waterfowl and loons.  Ennis Lake is one of the premiere staging areas for migrating waterfowl in southwestern Montana.  Thousands of ducks can be spread across the lake on any given day.  As is typical with high concentrations of birds, there is always the possibility of a rarity being found.   Bring a lunch as we’ll be out until at least mid-afternoon.  Also, remember to bring plenty of warm clothes as it will likely be cold and windy. If the weather is too extreme, we will reschedule for the following Saturday, October 27.   Please contact John Parker at 586-5863 for more information or if you plan to attend.


All field trips meet at the Museum of the Rockies.  Come at 7:45 a.m. to carpool and depart at 8:00 a.m.


Update from the Bridger Ridge Hawk Watchers

Juvenile Swainson's Hawk (photo by J. Harris)

Greetings fans of Hawk Watch,

It feels like fall has come and passed already!  Since our last report the weather has cleared and the raptors have continued their southerly journey.   It has been beautiful up here on the Bridger Ridge, albeit a little cold.
Latest news is a mountain lion trail spotted behind our cabin, mountain goats on the east side of Tilly, and LOTS of golden eagles.  This past week the golden has been consistently over half the total migrants on a daily basis.  We expect this to continue till the end of the season.  Besides the Golden Eagles, we have seen increasing numbers of Prairie Falcons and Merlins; two very exciting birds to see (flying sharks is our nick-name).  The Sharp-shinned Hawks have stayed pretty steady, but the Cooper's have dropped off, making our lives somewhat easier.  Our first Rough Legged Hawk was spotted during the previous weekend.  These arctic birds bring sign of the coming winter.
Raptor Fest weekend was a huge success.  We had a record turnout of 4200 visitors down at the lodge.  There was an elite 50 that made it up to the ridge out of that group.  Good work guys!  The weather was great and we saw lots of birds, including the very rare Ferruginous Hawk, only our 4th one of the season.  We hope that everyone enjoyed the show that Bridger Bowl put on and all the excellent demonstrations and learning experiences that the event had to offer.
If you want to see more raptors, come on up!  The season is still quite exciting.  A Hawk Watch site in Alberta counted 427 golden eagles today and we expect those birds to arrive Friday.  Hold on to your seats!  The local weather at the helipad can be seen at if you want to check it out.
We would like to thank all of you once again for coming up and seeing us!  The birds are awesome, but we really appreciate the human company and all the great gifts you have bestowed on us.  Our happiness for this is beyond words.
Check out the attached image of a beautiful adult female Northern Harrier (note the tawny underside with heavy steaking - the tell-tale field-mark) giving our owl decoy a hard time (as usual).  Thanks to Kalon for these awesome pictures.
Here is the count as of October 10, 2012 (No counts on October 3 and 4 due to weather).
2 Turkey Vultures
9 Ospreys
58 Harriers
377 Sharp-shinned Hawks
177 Cooper's
17 Goshawks
52 Unknown Accipiters
37 Broad Wingeds
8 Swainson's
220 Red Taileds
4 Ferruginous
2 Rough Legged
11 Unknown Buteos
613 Golden Eagles
42 Bald Eagles
6 Unknown Eagles
146 Kestrels
14 Merlins
10 Prairie Falcons
34 Peregrine Falcons
12 Unknown Falcons
66 Unknown Raptors (maybe some Ravens in there too).
Cheers and happy birding,
Kalon and Bret from Bridger Ridge.

Raptor Festival A Great Success

Lou Ann Harris & Paulette Epple staffing our booth

Thanks to all the Volunteers who helped with the set up, tear down and staffing at our booth at the Raptor Festival:  Peter Norlander, Loreene Reid, Jackie Wilson, Lou Ann Harris, Nora Miller, Linda and Wano Urbonas, and Paulette Epple. We all talked to lots of people, sold books, hats and had a great time with the Thayer Birding Guide and Quiz.

The attendance count included:   Saturday  - 80+ children, 150+ Adults;  Sunday AM -  45 children, 87 Adults.

Special Thanks to Emily Lind who especially organizes the Raptor Festival and to Doug Wales of Bridger Bowl who both work to make the 2012 Raptor Festival such a great success. Thanks to all of you for a great time.

Happy Birding,  Peter Norlander