We took a day off from our busy schedule, (we are getting ready for Alpine Mountain Days, our first big show of the summer), and headed to Grey's Lake Wildlife Refuge. It was established to provide a refuge for sand hill cranes but also provides a place for the summers breeding season of other birds.
Each year seems to give us a different view of the refuge. This year, as we approached the refuge large flocks of white faced ibis dominated the sky. They were the bird of the year and we found them at many places along the side of the refuge roads.
Their iridescent plumage is especially bright during breeding season, along with the white face stripe, and so we stopped often to watch them feed and to try to take images of them in flight. Their long-curved bills and trailing legs make them so distinctive during their flight.
At another place, we also spotted two different looking birds, also with long curved beaks. They were brown colored and large waders which Renita quickly identified as long billed curlews. The long-billed curlews are having difficulties with habitat loss, but here they have a sanctuary.
Red tailed hawks soared above us and you really must marvel when you think about their fantastic eyesight that allows them to see prey from such a height. We never got close enough for a great image but our binoculars, we have Canon image stabilized ones, allow us to easily watch birds in flight.
At one point the road is surrounded by flooded marsh and that place is dominated by yellow headed blackbirds. Their golden fathered neck and head makes them so distinctive when compared to any other bird. In flight, you can easily see the white wing bands, along with the yellow head and shoulders.
Red wing blackbirds also are in the area and woe to you if you get to close to their nest as they will go into attack mode! Flocks of seagulls fed on insects above the marsh and there were places where the road had been repaired from this springs flooding.
We did see many sand hill cranes, and at one spot we saw two cow elk being shadowed by a pair of cranes. Another place on the road loop usually holds deer and we were rewarded to see a beautiful black tailed deer growing a massive set of antlers.
It had shed its winter coat and the bucks new summer coat glistened in the morning sun. The deer are in some aspens groves that mark the end of the road loop and too soon we reached the highway.
As we drove back to Star Valley, we noticed that a trout stream, Tin Cup, was clearing and would soon be fishable. Maybe this year we will buy an Idaho nonresident license. It sure gets expensive buying licenses in Florida, Texas, Louisiana, Colorado, and perhaps Idaho. I used to golf a lot so I just compare the cost verses the greens fees.
It was a beautiful day with lots of birds, wildlife, and mountains. After spending five months along the Gulf Coast, we do so love the mountains. Clear skies