by Joshua Covill

Rare and Notables – Summer 2020 RECAP

  • 07/02 – A HUDSONIAN GODWIT was found in the West Valley Ponds (Tom F. & Matt B.)
  • 07/05 – A YELLOW-BILLED LOON (immature) was found on Dickey Lake (Nikki M.)
    • The loon has been present everyday (day of writing 08/18) and will likely be around for a while as it was molting its flight feathers rendering it flightless.
  • 07/31 – White-tailed Ptarmigan found with some effort at Piegan Pass in GNP (Joshua C.)
  • 08/02 – Lewis’s Woodpeckers nested at the Trout Creek trailhead in GNP (Joshua C.)
  • 08/13 – Swainson’s Hawk (dark morph) seen in the West Valley Ponds area (Joshua C.)
  • 08/15 – White-throated Swifts report from Little Bitterroot River south of Hwy 2 (Ben Y.)
    • This is interesting as they are not known to breed in Flathead County; this may be a nesting colony.
  • 08/16 – 1 Western Sandpiper among other sandpipers along Farm Road in lower Valley (Joshua C.)

What to Expect – September 2020
September is the time when songbird migration begins in earnest. Warblers, sparrows, vireos, and thrushes all move south, stopping to refuel in patches of berry bushes and hedgerows. Keep an eye on flocks of songbirds for a rare stray eastern warbler like Blackpoll, Magnolia, or Chestnut-sided. White-throated and Harris’s Sparrows can show up in flocks of the more common White-crowned Sparrows at feeders and hedgerows. 

September is also the magic time to look for a stray Sabine’s Gull along the shore of big lakes. Surf and White-winged Scoters can be found starting mid-September on bigger bodies of water. Shorebird migration is still in full swing, so any mudflats will host flocks of sandpipers and plovers. 

September is the peak for raptor migration and the Jewel Basin Hawk Watch (a 2.5 mile hike there) is a great place to watch dozens of hawks moving south.