Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Hooded Crane near Carey, Idaho - Rare Bird Alert

After reading various reports on Idaho Birders Linked Electronically (IBLE) and seeing this sighting mentioned on the ABA's blog Peeps, I determined last night that I was going to go a-chasin'!  I called the guy that got me into birding (my father-in-law Lynn Davenport) and asked if he wanted to go.  He hadn't been online for a couple days and didn't know what all the fuss was about.  When I told him that it was a potential first North American record I didn't have to say another word.  He was coming!

We met at 4am at the Eagle Rd. Park-n-Ride and beelined it for Carey, Idaho where the Hooded Crane had been reported in the fields across from the Carey Lake Wildlife Management Area.  We made it there at 6:45am just as the Sun gave us sufficient light.  We parked at the WMA and I was immediately distracted by the calls of Sora and Virginia Rails.  We saw a couple Sandhill Cranes flyover.  We could hear them calling from the field.  Lynn pointed out that one sounded different.  He began scanning the field with binoculars while I was still trying to spy the Sora.  "I've got it!" hollered Lynn and I sprinted to where he was setting up his spotting scope.  We watched it for about an hour.  I shot dozens of photos with my new camera, but it was so far away that my 150mm lens just wasn't enough.  I took a few photos through Lynn's scope, but only the one above was decent enough to share.  We were pretty pumped and shared high-fives and exultant shouts!  What a cool bird.  And to think we may be in the first group of people to have ever seen the Hooded Crane in North America!  Special thanks to Jean Seymour and Poo Wright-Pulliam for sharing their discovery.  (Poo also discovered another rare Siberian bird in Idaho several years ago.  Read more at her Idaho Birder Profile page)

(Debate is in full motion as to whether this is indeed a wild Hooded Crane or an escapee.  You can follow what we are learning at IBLE.)

During that hour of Hooded Crane watching I also got some great photos of a Virginia Rail (post coming soon).  The Sora proved to be too elusive for the camera, though I did see its yellow bill through the reeds.

On the way home we made a couple very worthwhile side trips to Silver Creek Preserve, Hayspur Fish Hatchery, and Little Camas Reservoir.  We both added several first of year birds including Blue-winged Teal, Brewer's Sparrow, and Yellow Warbler.  I was in a hurry to get home and back to work, so I hope Lynn wasn't too disappointed that I didn't slow down for every puddle with a bird on it!  I did get to see a Caspian Tern and three Willets too for my Idaho eBird competition list.

1 comment:

  1. I had a similar experience, right down to photographing the Rail and glimpsing the Sora as it ran / flew off. Cyndi saw it first. Sora was a Lifer for me, so I couldn't be too disappointed that it eluded the camera. Standing in the near-freezing air with a steady 30 mph wind was an exhausting start to the day, but the Crane was there! My return took me to Camas Prairie Centennial Marsh (yup, Willets and a Merlin with a bloody meal in its talons), Anderson Reservoir and Featherville (Common Loon and Dusky Grouse at the former, and huge flocks of Steller's Jays, Cassin's Finches, and Clark's Nutcrackers at the latter). Finally, at sunset, the Mtn. Home Reservoir was filled with Horned and Eared Grebe. What a day!