Field Notes

An American robin arrives in Jackson, one of the surest signs of spring.

On April 11, KO Strohbehn stopped at the Oxbow and a turkey vulture soared low, repeatedly.

On April 9, Diane Birdsall, while on top of Horse Creek Mesa, found three prairie falcons. It was so windy that they would launch from the cliffs and then be swept away. A crow was attempting to drive them off, but they kept returning. In the woods below, a flock of robins (best estimate, 50) were feeding on last year’s dried berries. Also, there were two northern flickers and four mule deer.

On April 10, Tim Griffith did a loop from the National Elk Refuge up to the northern areas of the park and found 41 species, mostly waterfowl. The most interesting was watching three coyotes at Oxbow Bend circle two trumpeter swans and five Canada geese on the new ice. The birds had kept a small area free of ice, and the coyotes were walking on the very thin ice trying to figure out how to get at the birds. He watched them for about 45 minutes. The coyotes finally gave up and wandered off to find easier prey. Fun to watch.

Bryan Bedrosian got a new first-of-the-year, a snipe. Not by seeing it or hearing it. A male goshawk captured for Teton Raptor Center studies (thanks, Raynes Fund and Community Foundation of Jackson Hole) had a snipe in its talons as it hit the trap.

AJ DeRosa got on the river last week to see what’s happening. He saw several mature bald eagles and waterfowl including paired mallards, rafts of Barrow’s goldeneyes, mergansers and Canada geese. Several dippers were bouncing along the banks. The main event of the day was watching a herd of 70 elk, mostly cows and a few young bulls, cross the river near Bureau of Land Management Parcel 23.

Loy Kiefling had evening grosbeaks, red crossbills, common redpolls, brown creepers, chickadees, robins, Clark’s nutcrackers, Oregon juncos, and red- and white-breasted nuthatches in her yard.

Eric Cole observed the first sagebrush buttercups flowering on the National Elk Refuge this week. Other early blooms found during this week include orogenia, fritillary, steer’s head, early parsley and an early mustard.

Susan Marsh has seen ospreys on nests, eagles in the air, a female crossbill at the feeder with a female Oregon junco. She heard three sandhill cranes on the Elk Refuge.

In town John Hebberger Jr. reports groups of Clark’s nutcrackers, lots of magpies, flickers, red-breasted nuthatches, both kinds of chickadees, Cassin’s finches, robins and juncos. Near Kelly Warm Springs and Antelope Flats, John saw a turkey vulture, northern harriers, flickers, ravens, bluebirds, and lots of elk (cow herds) migrating farther north into Grand Teton National Park.

On April 12, Meg Gilbert and Julie Holding saw a peregrine falcon reach high speed above the north end of East Gros Ventre Butte. And a first-of-year tick, probably a Rocky Mountain wood tick, appeared on April 15, fortunately before it found a meal.

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