.My drive from Missoula to Glacier National Park took me north and past the Ninepipe NWR. I stopped off to spend an hour birding the refuge with mixed results.
Most of the ponds/lakes were fairly inaccessible, being set well back from the loop road around the refuge. So I wasn't able to get good photos of the American White Pelicans, Tundra Swans, American Wigeons and other birds that I saw on the water. A pair of Western Grebes were the only water birds that didn't stay well away.
I didn't see a single shorebird except for a Killdeer.
Utility wires alongside the loop road had Barn and Violet-Green Swallows, while the fences had numerous Savannah Sparrows.
A Fox Sparrow was my first of the year.
A family of Chipping Sparrows made a cute picture.
A male House Sparrow with one of his offspring seemed rather out of place.
I was hoping to see raptors but saw only a solitary Red-tailed Hawk.
If the birding was a little disappointing, the scenery was certainly not, with the Mission Mountains rising majestically to the east of the refuge.
However, I was expecting to find much more spectacular scenery at my next stop - Glacier National Park.