Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Camping at "Happy Jack Lodge" (Part 1)

From July 16th-21st my family and I brought our camping trailer up to the Happy Jack Lodge. However, this post will only be about my first day there. It's a huge relief (heat and all) getting out of the valley and into the pines. After arriving at the lodge and setting up I started my birding adventure. My brother and a camping friend also joined me. But they only came for the hiking and taking some pictures. Man they thought that they were being so quiet that the birds weren't flying away from them but coming towards them! Oh gosh, this is going to be a LONG hike (I thought), and to add onto that they nicknamed me Bird Boy, which I guess does fit me pretty well.

 The Pygmy Nuthatch was the most abundant bird I observed. The Pygmy Nuthatch is officially my favorite of the three nuthatches. It used to be the red-breasted but the pygmy is like those little gremlins before they turn evil. They are small, fuzzy, and cute, a word I almost never say, but it is true!
                                                                 Pygmy Nuthatch
 The Pygmy Nuthatches larger cousin the White-breasted Nuthatch was also very abundant.
                                                               White-breasted Nuthatch
As we were walking along a draw I saw a medium sized yellowish songbird perched on the top of a very tall pine tree, and after walking a bit closer I noticed it was my FOY (first of year) Red Crossbill, a female. 
                                                                  Red Crossbill      
Yes, the photo may be super cropped but hey this was the first Red Crossbill I have had perched in the last two years! The slow trilling song of the Dark-eyed Junco was also filling the mountain slopes and rolling hills of Happy Jack and one bird was fearless, and let me get a reasonable photo.
                                                        "Red Backed" Dark-eyed Junco
One of the most entertaining birds I observed was this Mountain Chickadee, someone needs to tell this guy that he is a bird not a monkey, but I was a bit impressed with his one legged pull-ups!
                                                                 Mountain Chickadee
 Here is another Mountain Chickadee, in a less impressive pose.
                                                                 Mountain Chickadee
I then sat down to listen and watch for any birds, I found a couple of male Northern Flickers trying to kill each other, what a way to brake the silence!!! Can't you see the bird on the top has an evil look in his eye!
                                                    "Red Shafted" Northern Flickers
Okay, now all violence set aside, here is a more peaceful woodpecker, the not so Hairy Woodpecker giving his unmistakable "pwick" call.
                                                               Hairy Woodpecker
After hiking through the thick forest there was one more spot I wanted to check out. An area that has had all of its trees taken out so it is just a couple of bare hills. This cleared out area is where I had my lifer Purple Martins last year and they are pretty common around the lodge, at this bare area they land every once in a while to pick up nesting materials and bugs off the ground. If I am at the right place at the right time I might crush these monstrous swallows. However, I was not able to get proper crushes (photos), a FOY female landed pretty close and a male flew over me.
                                                                  Purple Martin
The habitat around Happy Jack is nearly all Pondorosa Pine with scattered Gambel's Oaks. A favored habitat for the Flamulated Owl, but I will just brake the news now, I totally missed that species, in fact I didn't have any owls on this trip at all! But I was able to get a few FOY Common Nighthawks to fly over me, and I got at least one decent shot.
                                                              Common Nighthawk
Thanks for reading and stay tuned for my next post "Grand Birding At The Grand Canyon".                                            


  1. I would have to agree that the Pygmy Nuthatch is superior to its White-breasted and Red-breasted cousins even if I've never been so lucky to see one. You got some great shots of it!

    1. Thanks Mr. Josh!!! Your blog "A boy who called heron" is awesome! By the time Evan is my age he will be a SUPER birder! It won't be long before you get the Pygmy Nuthatch they are very easy to find out here.

  2. Awesome photos and report Caleb! Many great birds and photos, and the PUMA on the ground, cool beans!

    Nice nighthawk shot too, they are hard to photograph.

  3. Thanks Mr. Tommy!!! Those PUMA's were tough meat but I was able to get some okay photos! And that CONI was the only shot I was able to get other then some super washed out photos.