Murray and I enjoyed our last American birding adventure together, at least for the summer, with a time-constrained visit to the Washington/Idaho border area for a chance at catching up with the waterfall-nesting Black Swifts of the northwest, hopefully arriving just ahead of fledging time, after which this species is very hard to find.
Even though I’d been successful three years earlier, almost to the day, we had a hell of a time finding the secret handshake location of the nesting swifts, wasting four hours on the Thursday afternoon, then investing another six hours of driving through the admittedly very beautiful logging roads of Coeur d’Alene National Forest in western Idaho. Eventually we discovered how dumb our error had been – I don’t want to recount it here, as it is ‘that’ dumb, and with only a few miles of unpaved roads, found the site.
Because Murray and I chewed up so much time in the Idaho mountains (and I’m not saying my navigator had anything to do with this… at least not publicly), our intended trip to southern Idaho for Cassia Crossbills fell to the wayside – I had to be in southern California for a pelagic trip on Sunday, and there just wasn’t enough time. So we raced westward past Spokane to a hotspot recommended by my good mate Michael Woodruff recommends for Sage Thrasher, and scored just prior to sunset.
When I called Michael for help finding the thrasher, he offered to use a rare day off from his Medical Residency to help us find a Dusky Grouse in the Mt Spokane area on Saturday morning. Michael’s Mum-in-law, and avid birder Sandy agreed to come along too, and we had a fantastic time birding the beautiful ski areas of Mt Spokane.
To wind up our birding day prior to my flight to LAX, and Murray’s continuing adventures in Washington State, Sandy invited us to her place, near the Spokane Airport, for a look at another species I needed – Calliope Hummingbird, which is a regular visitor to her backyard feeders. She also surprised us with a bucketload of red raspberries from her back yard, and a fantastic late lunch. Michael’s wife Mindy – who is finalising her studies to become an Anaesthetist while breaking various regional long-distance running records, joined us for the get-together, along with his beautiful Mum Krista and brother Jonathon – whom I was glad to finally meet. Roger, also a doctor, and also one of the ‘California Four’ band of birders who are were helpful to me when I needed assistance in 2016, was responsibly at work down in Loma Linda, though I hope to catch up with him at some stage this year.