Six participants, along with Darcy Thomas, joined Shannon and Bridger Donaldson at the West Valley Wildlife Viewing Area on Thursday, November 3. The valley was blanketed in white from the early season snowfall the day before.

Soon enough, the sun was shining which made for a great afternoon of birding. As soon as we pulled in, about a dozen Tundra Swans flew right above us. There was a lot of open water and hundreds of waterfowl, predominantly Mallards, along with dozens of Northern Pintails, Buffleheads, and Wigeons. Northern Shovelers, Canvasbacks and a few Gadwalls were also present. There were numerous Bonaparte’s Gulls on the water. A few pipits could be seen bobbing their tails on the far pond, which was frozen.

We enjoyed seeing well over 100 Sandhill Cranes, many flying right overhead. One crane, in particular, was making a high-pitched, squeaky juvenile call, although it appeared to have adult plumage. Rough-legged Hawks were present, and we saw a harrier land near the edge of the pond in the rushes. There was a large flock of Horned Larks that kept returning to an open patch of ground in the field nearby.

We found a Kestrel and a few Snow Buntings as well. In all, 32 species were observed.  Thanks for joining us, everyone!

Field trip leader Bridger Donaldson looks back as birds are observed from every direction at the West Valley Ponds Viewing Area – Photo by Annica Stivers