Sunday, September 18, 2011

Finishing Off Montana

After leaving Kalispell on my final day in Montana, I headed south to check out Swan Lake.

I was lucky enough to catch a flock of Red-eyed and Warbling Vireos and a few Yellow Warblers foraging in bushes by the lakeside, while Cedar Waxwings were flycatching from nearby trees.

Further along the lakeshore I came to an observation platform looking out over marshland. Unfortunately, the only birds around were Barn Swallows.

It was nice to feel that down here by the lake I could walk around without worrying about bears. I wouldn't have felt quite so relaxed, though, if I had noticed this sign next to where I had parked.

My next stop was at a small city park in Polson, a town at the south end of Flathead Lake. I was hoping to find Pygmy Nuthatches there. Amazingly, I spotted one within 10 minutes of my arrival.

The only other birds in the park were Ring-billed Gulls.

After that, I headed over to a site I was really looking forward to visiting - the town's wastewater treatment plant. As every birder knows, birds love sewage!

I was crushed to find that the plant was closed because it was Sunday. I can't imagine why they would close the plant on the best day of the week for people to visit it!

Disappointed, I headed back south, stopping off again at the Ninepipes reserve on my way. As it was now mid-afternoon, there were very few birds about, except for the Grebes and other water birds that I'd seen on my earlier visit. However, I had wonderful views of the Mission Mountains from the reserve and from the road from there to Missoula.

So my Montana birding ended with a whimper rather than a bang. Overall, though, I enjoyed the trip. I hadn't seen anything like the number or range of birds that I had expected but I had seen some. (The trip took my bird year list up to 304 species.) And I had seen some incredible landscapes.

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