Before we leave Pagari Bridge, I have to write about the birds.
Oh, the birds!
I don’t think I’ve ever been in a place with such a high concentration of birds and in such variety, too.
Shortly after the crew and I arrive at Pagari Bridge (northeast of Twin Falls, Idaho), I set up camp and then take a break in my lounger. Three barn swallows swoop under the awning to pass in front of my face!
Due to the high water level, the river splits into three courses forming two brushy islands mid-river. The high grass, bushes and willows on these islands and along the riverbank provide ideal nesting sites.
The most numerous species are the Barn Swallows.
I don’t have photos of them because they move constantly. (The bird in the first two photos is a Yellow Warbler.)
It’s entertaining to watch as a Barn Swallow soars high, loops over, dive-bombs for the river, then makes a sudden turn at the last moment, zips upstream between the islands, soars upward again, and then in a stunning finale, disappears down-river in a straight-line flight of amazing speed.
I’m watching such a display when a Killdeer sounds an alarm. An enormous Common Raven harasses the nesting birds every day, and every day the swallow parents drive him away in the sky, pecking at his big, black wings as he performs acrobatic, aerial stunts.
Today is no exception. Two swallows pester the bird in flight. The Killdeer scolds frantically until the threat has passed.
One time the crew and I were walking near the river and a Killdeer scurried ahead of us, then flopped down, spread a wing, and fluttered. Later I learned from my field guide that the display is to fake being wounded in order to distract a predator from a nest.
I’m not sure about the identify of this long-legged shore bird. A Willet perhaps?
What do you think?
I’m watching the Barn Swallows from the lounger and —
Wait a minute! Barn swallows? There aren’t any barns around here. Hmm . . . the bridge! That’s where they have set up a colony — under the bridge.
I clip a leash on Reggie and on Roger and we go up to the bridge to check this theory.
Yep, those are the nests . . .
I take the photo above quickly and leave because our presence is agitating the swallows. I appreciate these little, dark blue birds with their rust-colored bellies and forked tails.
Every day at dusk about thirty barn swallows crisscross the river in front of our camp, scooping flying insects in their open beaks. Without them our camp might very well be uncomfortable. As it is, no flying bugs bother us.
A lone gull wears its typical frown as it looks down its beak at us.
A pair of Great Blue Herons fly over in artistic silhouette. When the crew and I walk one of the roads that cuts through the sage, I sometimes see a small pod of White Pelicans over where the river snakes through the desert scrub.
A red duck goes bottoms-up as it dips in the grass in the calmer water at the edge of the river. It’s a struggle to zoom in and snap a photo, what with his repeated dips and the grass in the way. Finally I’m able to capture him. I flip through the pages of my field guide.
Aha! I think this is Cinnamon Teal!
I don’t know what this next bird is.
I was inside the Best Little Trailer with the crew because we had a brief rain. After the rain, I look out the window and see this sweet, little bird perched on a branch of sagebrush.
(The sage grows very tall here, some as tall as I am.).
Anyway . . . .
This tiny bird looks like a baby to me. The photo isn’t that great because it required zooming through a rain-splattered window. I’m amazed I got anything at all, to tell the truth.
If you know the identity, I’ll add it to this post.
The Western Meadowlark sings us awake every morning. His singing post is right outside our window. He serenades us throughout the day, too.
If you follow the links I’ve made, you will go to Cornell’s All About Birds site. There you can read about the habits of the birds and even listen to their song and calls.
This is the list I have from sightings at Pagari Bridge: pelican, gull, raven, blue heron, meadowlark, willet (?), red-winged blackbird, barn swallow, oriole (a flash of orange disappearing into dense branches), killdeer, chipping sparrow (sparrow with a red hat on), mallard duck, cinnamon teal duck, and the little bird in the photo above.
Okay, now that I’ve totally bored you non-birding people.
(Or I’ve driven you away like a pissed-off barn swallow chasing a raven.)
In the next post:
Reggie, Roger and I leave Pagari Bridge for a new camp where there’s plenty of thick grass for playing!
NOTE: The odds of me correctly identifying the birds in this post are pretty slim. Do not hesitate to set me straight. Learning is fun! — Sue
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