Saturday, January 14, 2017

Townsend's Solitaire

Well-reported and with much better photos by others uploaded to eBird.  This afternoon three small and previously unacquainted groups - about ten birders in all - were at Island Lake State Recreation Area looking for the Townsend's Solitaire (Myadestes townsendi).  Let me say - this is not a gimme (Karl Overman's word for easily found) bird. Island Lake SRA is a large park and this was my first visit there.  We all found our way to the generally correct area. 

In a semi-scattered fashion we all searched for the bird until a sharp-eyed teenager named John (I think) and wearing a red Northface jacket finally found the bird.  This was about 90 minutes into our search.   We all had several good looks and really enjoyed the bird.      

Many of the junipers do not have berries, but when we finally began to see junipers with berries along a ridge I felt our chances might improve.  The bird seemed quite flighty.  It didn't just pick a tree and begin eating juniper berries.  It flew around, perched high in bare deciduous branches and then flew down to the junipers from its high perch.

I don't have a GPS, so the coordinates being given were not helpful to me.  The cement slab that has  been frequently mentioned is not easy to find either and the junipers around the cement slab have no berries. From the slab the bird was located on the next ridge beyond - perhaps another 15 minute walk toward the lake and smaller ponds.

The Spring Hill pond parking lot is quite far from the bird - at least a mile and likely even further.  It wasn't too cold or windy today and so the walk was pleasant.   Upon leaving at around 4:15 pm, I noticed a parking area called the shooting range.  I wonder if this might be a better spot to park and then walk in from there.   

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