Owner Shane Sater

Other participating eBirders
Traveling
  • 1
  • 1.41 mi
Comments

Sevenmile Creek bird monitoring survey. 65 F to 80 F (approx - based on temperatures at Helena Airport). Few clouds becoming scattered by 0935. Wind quite variable in direction, at times from W, N, E, and SE (not in order). Generally increased in intensity throughout, but quite variable - calm to gentle breeze, gusting moderate. The Helena Valley was notably hazy but the Elkhorns were more visible than last week - around 0715, individual trees were not distinguishable but meadows were.

9 trains passed by during the survey. The stream was quite clear, and seemed lower than last week.

Flowering plants similar to last week, with quite a diversity along the creek; notable in the grassland were Acroptilon repens, Cirsium arvense, and Medicago sativa. Only sparse fruits are left on the Ribes aureum, though none are shriveled yet, so I suspect animals have eaten many. Prunus virginiana fruits have turned much redder since last week; some are getting purplish. I sampled one of these, and noticed that the pit was very large and there was surprisingly little flesh. Does the flesh swell much more in the next month or so? Or is the hot dry weather leading to small fruits? It will be interesting to track this, as I suspect the Chokecherries may be a very important avian food resource when ripe. Cornus sericea fruits apparently ripe (white, and fed upon by AMRO), though these bushes are continuing to flower, as last week.

At 0735, I saw a small canid ca 10 m N of the creek midway up a short, rocky slope. It paused for ca 3 secs, then moved into a Chokecherry clump; I didn't see it again. Seemed fox-like, grayish overall, with fairly thin legs, not at all stocky like a Coyote. When I first saw the movement, I thought of housecat due to proportions and how it moved - it was bigger than that, but smaller than a Red Fox. Perhaps some rusty mixed with gray in the tail? 3 chipmunks seen. On the return, 1 doe White-tailed Deer seen along stream in reach 4. Again, no Columbian Ground Squirrels detected. Grasshoppers continue to be numerous. Lepidoptera: 3 Lycaeides sp. seen, ca 20 Cercyonis sp., 2 sulphurs and ca 40 whites (Pieridae), and 1 orange Skipper (Hesperiinae - not Thymelicus lineola). Sulphurs both in reach 4, S of the stream.

Avian notes: Even less singing than last week. GRCA seemed quite skulky and hard to count. Several YEWA seen feeding young, which made them more detectable even without much singing. Notable increase in EUST (mostly juveniles). Continued BBMA activity, still concentrated in the east portion. Notable lack of SOSP detections on property, and decrease in LAZB (1 heard briefly). Surprised to have several new spp. for the year: HOSP, DOWO, and MOBL. Very little NRWS activity - 1 sighting. Continued TRES activity; many CLSW seen, but much less activity seen than last week. WEKI activity conspicuous, supporting the idea that they had been feeding young, which seem to have fledged now. Is this property a particularly attractive foraging habitat for them? Surprised to find 1 AMGO on nest but no other activity except 1 male seen in high flight singing several times. No fledgling CEDW or EAKI yet seen. Detections of CHSP and BUOR (sporadic this summer) interesting, as well as WAVI (1 previous detection) and GRAP (not detected since 30 May 2017). Continued absence of adult BHCO notable, as well as absence of RWBL, KILL, BOBO, AMKE, and MALL.
S38304587_canidhabitat

Observations

  1. Number observed: 9

    Comments: Minimum count - flushed in a group from the field near the east property boundary (reach 4), ca 20 m from the stream. Gray and chubby - at least one apparent adult seen, notably larger than several others. Noticed rusty outer rectrices flared on this bird when it flushed. Was not sure if I saw more than one adult - definitely a substantial number of juveniles (aged based on size).

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 5 1 3
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  2. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Flew overhead, going south.

    Breeding Code: F Flyover (Observed)
  3. Number observed: 16

    Comments: Exact minimum count - large group seen in flight below the diversion dam.

  4. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Seen and heard in flight for a short time, making "peent" calls.

  5. gull sp.

    Number observed: 9

    Comments: Seen flying upstream in a loose group, very high (white specks as seen with the bare eye).

  6. Number observed: 5

    Comments: Seen circling overhead near the cross-fence at one time. Amazing to see 1 TUVU, and then another, and then a few more, as if appearing from nowhere!

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  7. Number observed: 2

    Comments: Including adult male *beyond property boundary*, flying over Head Ln. Earlier, female/immature seen, first on the property in the field (reach 4), then in high flight (20 + m?) over the Head Ln area, then landing near the Head Ranch buildings a few minutes later. I saw a (I suspect the same) female/immature later, while observing the adult male.

  8. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Seen in flight, then perched on a fencepost on the north boundary, after the unidentified Buteo had flown without me noticing. Perhaps the same bird? Dorsally reddish tail clearly seen in flight.

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 1
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  9. Buteo sp.

    Number observed: 1

    Comments: Perched on a post on the north property boundary. Observed a kingbird perched near, and occasionally seeming to dive-bomb the hawk. Photos revealed it was a WEKI. Suspect the hawk is a RTHA, but am not positive. Did not see it when it flew.

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  10. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Heard diagnostic descending call one time; seen distantly near the top of a dead streamside shrub in reach 3 (small woodpecker with black and white speckling dorsally). It flew before I could get a photo, and I did not see or hear it again.

  11. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Heard "clear" call, then saw the flicker flying upstream, low (above the diversion). Seen again twice more, apparently flushing from the ground and flying low a short distance.

  12. Empidonax sp.

    Number observed: 2

    Comments: Brief, distant views, one below the diversion dam and one above. I saw the first bird lifting its tail while perched; the second bird was making "whit" calls. Suspect WIFL, but not sure.

  13. Number observed: 6

    Comments: Minimum count; at least 5 birds seen in the vicinity of the creek below the diversion dam, while a sixth bird was mobbing a Buteo to the north. Observed an adult feeding a fledgling (perhaps different individuals of each) on at least 3 occasions. I took notes the first time: the adult landed on the branch of a willow with a food item in its beak; the juvenile flew in behind the adult, made plaintive, weak, quite high-pitched, upslurred vocalizations and gaped, and the adult fed it. At least 3 different individual WEKi seen in hover-flight over the field; several times, 1-2 seen bringing insects back to the creekside shrubs where I witnessed juveniles being fed, and heard begging vocalizations numerous times.

    Breeding Code: FY Feeding Young (Confirmed)
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  14. Number observed: 4

    Comments: No fledglings noted yet. Watched one bird chase a VESP away from the as-yet undiscovered apparent nest site downstream of the nest I had discovered in a Russian-olive. In this same area (reach 3/4 boundary), I saw an EAKI (same individual?) give aerial pursuit to a WEKI. The WEKI were quite active in the area, including at least several juveniles perched along the stream and at least one adult feeding a juvenile. No EAKI activity seen around the Russian-olive site; I strongly suspect it is abandoned. Another apparent pair of EAKI seen upstream, near transect end.

    Breeding Code: T Territorial Defense (Probable)
  15. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Observed twice above the diversion dam, once shortly above and the other time upstream of the rocky draw, near where I found a MODO nest earlier this year. Not sure whether this was the same bird or two different individuals. Both times, the bird was apparently foliage-gleaning in a shrub (an alder the first time, and a Red-osier Dogwood the second time). Grayish overall, with off-white underside and notable whitish supercilium. Crown drab like the rest of the head. Ca BCCH-size. Poor photo taken the first time. Did not hear it vocalize.

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  16. Number observed: 30

    Comments: Estimate by fives, including 5 *beyond property boundary*, east.

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  17. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Heard *beyond property boundary*, east.

  18. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Heard *beyond property boundary*, southeast.

  19. crow/raven sp.

    Number observed: 3

    Comments: 3 corvids flew directly overhead, nonvocal. Bills seemed large and wings seemed too lanky for AMCR, but tails were relatively short and squared off for typical CORA. Perhaps hatch-year CORA? They did not stay around for longer viewing, and I'm not positive.

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  20. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Seen one time during the survey, in flight below the diversion dam.

  21. Number observed: 2

    Comments: Minimum count - probably a few more. Both of the birds that I saw well were juveniles. At one point, I observed one carrying what looked like a short piece of grass in its beak while flying. I was surprised to see a juvenile doing this, so I took notes on its plumage to confirm this. It had a brownish back, a notable line on the cheek between the dark cap and pale lower face, and dusky breast markings.

    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 2
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  22. Tree/Violet-green Swallow

    Number observed: 1

    Comments: Seen distant in flight; I thought it had a white rump, but wings seemed too broad for VGSW. Not able to ID confidently.

  23. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Seen once only, flying downstream, relatively high - discrete dark breast band and narrow tail; wings seemed narrower-based than TRES. Definitely not juvenile TRES.

  24. Number observed: 6

    Comments: Minimum count - 4 seen perched on fence at the same time that 2 others were in the air. At least 2 juveniles have fledged - these birds were pale underneath and lacked long outer tail streamers in flight.
    Nest with 4 eggs found and photographed at the diversion dam - perhaps a second brood? No parents seen in the vicinity as I passed by - I could feel 4 eggs in the nest, though I could not see into it. A few minutes later, 1 BARS landed in the snag north of the creek at this point while another apparently flew to the nest. On my return, a bird departed the nest unobtrusively. This explains numerous BARS behaviors observed this season, including frequent perching in the aforementioned snag and chasing of AMKE and corvids from this vicinity.
    I checked the culvert BARS nest on the return, and at that point did not see any activity around it.

    Breeding Code: NE Nest with Eggs (Confirmed)
    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 2
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  25. Number observed: 20

    Comments: Notable change in observed behavior since last week - only one individual seen in flight before 1045. At this time, I counted 20 (by twos) flying downstream while I was above the rocky draw. After this, I saw 1-several birds a few more times in flight.

  26. Number observed: 7

    Comments: Small groups seen in several spots along the creek. Counted on the return, when I was going faster and was fairly sure that there was not overlap between groups observed at disparate locations.

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  27. Number observed: 5

    Comments: Including 1 *beyond property boundary*, downstream.

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  28. Number observed: 2

    Comments: Two individuals seen in flight near the creek corridor close to the reach 3/4 boundary, heading NE. Faint blue seen in flight feathers; heard a clear, descending "pew" call, clearer and less burry than WEBL.

  29. Number observed: 8

    Comments: 2 juveniles seen, one in the company of an adult, which fed it. The adult was perched next to the juvenile (see photo), then flew to a Cornus sericea bush and took a fruit in its beak; the juvenile flew over and the adult fed it. The other juvenile was getting a more orange breast, with much less obvious spotting - perhaps fledged earlier? Another (non-juvenile) bird photographed apparently entirely missing its tail, near the BBMA nest that I suspected was active this spring. After I photographed it, the AMRO flew roughly 10 m (approx. distance estimate, from memory) to streamside shrubs, not obviously hindered by its missing tail feathers.

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  30. Number observed: 10

    Comments: Including 1 *beyond property boundary*, downstream. One bird seen carrying food - to feed nestling still, or a fledgling?

    Breeding Code: CF Carrying Food (Confirmed)
  31. Number observed: 310

    Comments: Estimate by tens, counted in flight, early in the survey in reach 4. I had several opportunities to count the flock this way, corroborating my estimate (consistently getting around 300). There may have been more, as the whole flock was not necessarily in the air/visible at the same time interval.
    I counted a sample of 50 birds perched along the creek, of which 44 were grayish juveniles and the other 6 were adult-aspect birds.
    I saw the large flock only in the eastern part of the transect early; I saw groups of 10-30 in flight along the creek corridor numerous times later in the morning.

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  32. Number observed: 8

    Comments: Estimate by twos. 5 seen at one time. At one point, possible territorial behavior observed - one individual seen chasing another in flight, then returning to the area where the chased bird had been perched. Is this expected behavior during breeding season for this sp.?

  33. Number observed: 1

    Comments: One individual seen/heard in flight at least twice.

    Breeding Code: F Flyover (Observed)
  34. Number observed: 2

    Comments: Bird discovered on nest in reach 3, ca 50 m below the diversion dam, in a crotch at the S edge of a streamside alder, in a neat-looking cup ca 1 m above the bank. I was surprised to find this - I have been wondering if I would see AMGO nesting activity later in the summer, but I have yet to observe territorial or courtship behavior, or birds spending time consistently in one area along the creek. Besides the bird on nest, I saw one other AMGO during the survey, a single male (the same individual, or different ones each time?) singing while flying relatively high along the creek corridor.

    Breeding Code: ON Occupied Nest (Confirmed)
    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male 1
    Female
    Sex Unknown 1
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  35. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Seen twice along the stream, above the diversion dam. I was not able to tell if there was more than one bird. Did not sing.

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  36. Number observed: 13

    Comments: Estimate by twos. Seen in small, loose groups (up to 6 in a group). Heard sibilant "seep" calls. Singing very infrequent. Several times, I heard a song in flight that reminded me of LASP, but the bird was apparently a VESP.

  37. Number observed: 4

    Comments: All seen below the diversion dam in reach 4, in the field or in bushes along the stream. No singing heard.

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  38. Number observed: 1

    Comments: *beyond property boundary*, singing occasionally and seemingly faintly downstream.

  39. sparrow sp.

    Number observed: 1

    Comments: In the field, I identified this bird as a VESP, but Coburn Currier later suggested it is a BAIS. Closer examination reveals that while the tail is white-edged ventrally, it is not completely white or nearly so, as it should be for VESP with its tail unfanned. Not SAVS due to lack of strong eyeline, lateral throat-stripes, and extensive flank streaking. Seems to match juvenile BAIS from this view except for lack of dark moustache and lateral throat-stripe, and dark, brownish lores. Perhaps juvenile GRSP? If so, those details would match, as would whitish median crown-stripe. However, the white edges on the tail feathers seem incongruous (pale brown edges, at least in definitive basic plumage, are expected [Vickery 1996]). Photo metadata (after the fact) reveals that the photo was taken at 0911, when I was on the north side of the creek, slightly upstream of the diversion dam, within a few minutes of when I photographed a CHSP and WAVI. I suspect from memory (but am not positive) that the bird was perched in the isolated clump of dead shrubs approximately due N of the diversion dam, surrounded by grasses on approx. floodplain elevation, including Basin Wildrye (Leymus cinereus). Within 100 m of this clump of shrubs is the creek course, bordered by alders and other shrubs. Within 50 m to the north, the land rises gradually and the soil becomes notably quite rocky, with vegetation primarily short grasses.
    Habitat seems to suggest that GRSP would be more likely than BAIS, though the latter sp. especially is apparently rarely detected during migration, and thus might have a broader range of habitat use than has been documented.

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  40. Number observed: 12

    Comments: Including 2 *beyond property boundary*. Most not examined closely, but one juvenile photographed. Flight song heard once during the count, otherwise NO singing.

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  41. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Seen on the return, perched on a fencepost near the stream in reach 3.

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  42. Number observed: 3

    Comments: One seen along the creek above the diversion dam, begging and being fed by a drab (female?) YEWA.

    2 additional juvenile BHCO seen.

    Breeding Code: FY Feeding Young (Confirmed)
    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 3
    Media:
  43. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Heard singing *beyond property boundary*, downstream.

  44. Number observed: 15

    Comments: 4 juveniles seen with adults attending them, in 3 different locations along the creek corridor. Notes about the first observation were typical: apparent adult male (bright yellow, chestnut streaks underneath) seen feeding begging, grayish juvenile with short tail feathers, which was making rapid, hi "chip chip chip" calls. Photos of these two individuals; audio recording of one of the other begging juveniles.

    Breeding Code: FY Feeding Young (Confirmed)
    Age & Sex:
    Juvenile Immature Adult Age Unknown
    Male
    Female
    Sex Unknown 4
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  45. Number observed: 1

    Comments: Heard one iteration of a song during the entire count. Did not get a visual on any LAZB.

  46. Number observed: 16

    Comments: Vocalizations heard along the stream above the diversion dam; 4 birds then flew south and I got a poor photo when two perched in a shrub before continuing on. While making the announcement for this recording, I saw a flock of 12 more birds of similar size flying upstream, and I thought I heard HOSP vocalizations from them. I was not able to confirm them visually, since I was holding the recorder as they flew by, and I did not see them again. However, the brief recording I captured as they flew by is unequivocally a HOSP vocalization, and so I am 90% sure that all of those birds were this sp.

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  47. passerine sp.

    Number observed: 1

    Comments: A BUOR-size bird with black wings, yellow head or back, and yellow rump seen very briefly as it flew from a Chokecherry clump S across the creek (well above the diversion). Definitely too big for AMGO, but with similarly brilliant yellow coloration; definitely not BUOR. Perhaps WETA? Did not see it again.

  48. bird sp.

    Number observed: 1

    Comments: Recording of unidentified, unseen bird early in the morning, *beyond property boundary* east, in the old sewage pond area.

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