Field Trips/Blog

November 19 Field Trip – Lake Elwell/Tiber Reservoir

November 19—Let’s explore something new this month—we will head to Lake Elwell/Tiber Reservoir in central Montana. We’ll check out the lake, the shore, the roads in between. This area has little reporting and few bird observing visitors. Sanford Park has a bird list of 172 species over the years. Tiber Dam and VFW Campground has a list of 103 species. There have not been many reports in November. The number of species and individuals were not high, but this fall has been different in terms of migration. It’s an area that needs more exploring. If you are interested, contact Beth Hill ( We will meet at 8 am.

Dress for the weather. Although we will be in the car quite a bit, we will have to get out to scope the lake or explore the parks. Bring food and water to tide you over until our return mid-afternoon.

*** All field trips meet/return at the parking area in front of Sherwin Williams on NW Bypass in Great Falls. Contact Beth Hill to reserve your space. If you need binoculars we can provide loaners – or 406-217-2364.

Whooping Crane spotted by UMB Audubon members at Freezeout Lake

We found it!

Velda, Jan and Beth headed up to Freezout this morning (again) to look for the elusive Whooping Crane and they found it.  There were really nice looks and fair photos, considering the distance.  There was a Sandhill Crane family (2 adults, 1 colt) walking about the same area.  Like many others, we found it looking toward the west side of pond 3 (from a highway pullout).  What a treat.  Apparently it spent the whole morning in the same area.  Sometimes there was just a white head, sometimes completely obscured by cattails and rushes and sometimes it would be out in the open.

What a rush.  The rest of the day will be ho-hum.

View checklist of the birds that we saw during this trip.

Christmas in April

If you are a bird watcher or maybe a bird lister it is notable when you spot you “first of the year” bird (FOY).  The anticipation of finding a “new” bird is similar to a child’s anticipation of Christmas morning.  April is full of birds showing up for the first time or showing up on their way to somewhere further north.  It is also a month when we say good-bye to some of our winter visitors, but you don’t know they are gone until you just haven’t seen them for too long.  Most of my observations this year have been from the West Bank Park area in the early morning or after 6 in the evening.  A few exceptions were a couple trips to Benton Lake NWR.  A quick look at my April 2021 list shows quite a few FOY’s (all from West Bank Park area unless noted).  April 1 – Short-eared Owl, Sharp-tailed Grouse (Benton Lake); April 4 – Tree Swallow (Giant Springs); April 6 – Franklin’s Gull; April 8 – Marsh Wren, American Avocet; April 10 – American White Pelican; April 11 – Black-necked Stilt; April 16 – Wood Duck, Horned Grebe; April 17 – Yellow-headed Blackbird, Long-billed Curlew, Cinnamon Teal, Ross’s Goose (Benton Lake); April 18 – Red-tailed Hawk; April 20 – Swainson’s Hawk; April 21 – Osprey; April 22 – Grackle, Marbled Godwit; April 23 – Willet, Mourning Dove; April 23 – Wilson’s Snipe, Common Loon; April 25 – Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-tailed Duck (although not a FOY – it was in late April plumage and quite remarkable); April 26 – Blue-winged Teal, Common Tern; Turkey Vulture; April 27 – Northern-rough-winged Swallow.

Christmas Bird Count 2020

What a crazy year this has been! Even the Christmas Bird Count is affected by the Covid-19 pandemic! Na- tional Audubon has requested chapters to choose to have their count or to cancel it this year. They have strict guidelines that participants will follow. Because of social distancing, we can’t have our usual carloads of participants, nor can we invite the public or even additional UMBA members to join us this year. No pizza party afterwards to share tall tales or short tales of the day’s sightings. Sigh.. …

Christmas Bird Count 2019

(above – Sarah and Jaye take a closer look at a Great Horned Owl at Giant Springs State Park during “count day”-photo-Beth Hill)

Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon 2019 Christmas Bird Count is in the books. It was UMBA’s 47th Christmas Bird Count and the 120th National Audubon Christmas Bird Count (CBC).