Posted by: atowhee | June 11, 2017

A HALF DAY IN GLACIER

If you’ve been to Glacier National Park…or simply seen images…or heard rumors…you know that this is a unique place where glaciers have survived (barely) into the age of Global Warming…where stone and ice and water and wind hold sway…where some of America’s largest mammals survive despite human encroachment and the interests of our voracious market economy: moose, lynx, grizzly and black bear, mountain goat and bighorn sheep, wolverine…and lots of chipmunks.

This is my first visit as we show two visiting Brits one of America’s surviving national and natural wonders…maybe not as great as a golf course in Florida or a casino along the freeway, but still pretty fine…compared to, say, your local shopping mall. We arrived by train mid-morning and were out in the field by early afternoon.  Clear skies, strong winds, melting mountainside glaciers furnishing each rock face with its own waterfalls, quaking aspen and shaking cottonwoods and acres of dead pines (thank you global warming and your buddy the killer bark beetle). This is a good time to be a spruce in the Rockies.

My bird of the day was a singing male Tennessee Warbler near Two Medicine Lake.  Seen from below.  The gray chest was clear of marks, wing-bars could be faintly seen.  The song was repeated time and again.  This is a bird I have only seen before in spring and fall migration, silent at the time.  Took some puzzling to work out its man-given name.  He has a sweet song, far more complex than most of our warblers who have these short tweedles that end abruptly.

At one marsh there was a Bald Eagle, less common hereabouts than the Golden! We added roadside hawks (red-tail, Coop) and a Wood-Pewee plus some birds at the lodge and that brought our day’s total up to two dozen.  Tomorrow I hope for a variety of corvids, a woodpecker or two, maybe some more warblers and even a crossbill.  The roads into high elevation may be closed, barring us from ptarmigan and rosy-finches…we shall see.

Wildflowers are approaching their high season here (4800-5200 foot elevation zone): Glacier lily, a golden cousin of the fawn lily…mountain mahogany…serviceberry…wild strawberry…blue clematis that can be either a ground cover or climbing vine…yellow violets…showy locoweed on the gravel lakeshore…blue lupine…yellow columbine…foam flower…and several yellow composites.

Glacier NP–Two Medicine, Glacier, Montana, US
Jun 11, 2017 1:20 PM – 4:20 PM.  18 species

Common Merganser (Mergus merganser) 3
Belted Kingfisher (Megaceryle alcyon) 1
Warbling Vireo (Vireo gilvus) 1
American Crow (Corvus brachyrhynchos) X
Tree Swallow (Tachycineta bicolor) X
Violet-green Swallow (Tachycineta thalassina) X
Cliff Swallow (Petrochelidon pyrrhonota) X
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) 1
Golden-crowned Kinglet (Regulus satrapa) X
Swainson’s Thrush (Catharus ustulatus) X
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) X
Cedar Waxwing (Bombycilla cedrorum) 1
Tennessee Warbler (Oreothlypis peregrina) 1 singing male
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) (Setophaga coronata auduboni) 2
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) X
Song Sparrow (Melospiza melodia) X
Cassin’s Finch (Haemorhous cassinii) X
Evening Grosbeak (Coccothraustes vespertinus) X

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