By Laura Katzman and Gael Bissell.

2016 Bike & Bird trip - Painting by Clancy Cone
2016 Bike & Bird trip – Painting by Clancy Cone

Forty people joined Flathead Land Trust, Flathead Audubon, and the Flathead River to Lake Initiative, on a sunny Saturday morning, May 14, for the 2016 spring Bike and Bird field trip. The group met at McWenneger Slough at the 412-acre Fisher property that is protected by a conservation easement held by Flathead Land Trust.

Participants first biked to the Fairview Marsh where the Gebhardt family graciously allowed the group access to their 190-acre wetland to see birds. There they were treated to harriers, bald eagles, redheads, cinnamon teal, American coot, ruddy ducks, and many boisterous yellow-headed blackbirds.

From the blind
From the blind

The group then rode back to McWenneger Slough. They biked out to backwater channels and sloughs where Pete Fisher and others have banded passerines, and did some birding from a two-story blind that has been erected there. They heard or saw song sparrows, mourning doves, yellow warblers, red-tailed hawks, osprey, ring-necked ducks, wood ducks, red-winged blackbirds, great blue heron, and the prize, two courting trumpeter swans who nest on the slough, and a great horned owl!

On this field trip, participants visited and learned about private lands in the area that are protected by conservation easements held by either Flathead Land Trust or Montana Land Reliance. We are very lucky to have such great properties and protected habitats so close to town.