Harlowton & Judith Gap, MT

When planning for this Montana trip I asked a local birder, Dave Irons, for some tips as he had visited the area last year.  He told me about a road out of the small town of Harlowton that was fantastic grassland birding, so I arrived there at 6 a.m. one morning ready for the action.


Right off the bat, my lifer Upland Sandpiper was posted up waiting to be crushed.


Things only got better and better.  McCown's Longspurs began appearing in the road amid the mess of Horned Larks, meadowlarks, Vesper Sparrows, and ground squirrels.

 Males

 Female

At times it was hard to drive because the road was just coated with birds.  Sigh.  As I passed a field of cows I heard a new song and discovered my lifer Lark Buntings.


This turned out to be a very common bird in NE Montana and I became quite enamored with their noisy song and flight display.

 Male

Female

This road, and many other Montana roads, were lined with these coneflowers:


The road was also lined with ground squirrels, though I do not know which species.


Back to birds.  Grasshopper Sparrows were ridiculously common everywhere.  So great.


Seeing as how I had polished off all of my coffee by this point, I suddenly had to pee.  The road was definitely not a popular one so I pulled over to go right there on the side with the squirrels.  As I got out of the car I heard them:  Sprague's Pipits!  It took awhile but eventually I was able to pick one out way up in the sky as it did it's flight display.


This area also had some butterflies that I think were trying to do the deed.


 Soon after this stop I began finding Chestnut-collared Longspurs, yet another delightful lifer.


And I would feel bad leaving out the ever present Horned Lark:


This road was amazing.  It ends just south of Judith Gap and as suggested I went on to check out Judith Gap Road.  This road was far less exciting and I ended up with little to show for it besides this Ferruginous Swainson's Hawk:


By early afternoon I was heading north to Malta for the next birding adventure, but I will never forget this amazing morning of lifers!  Here are links for my eBird checklists for the road out of Harlowton, Gap Road/12E101N and Judith Gap Road.

Good times!!!!


Comments

  1. Awesome stuff! Congrats on the lifer load, fun lifers at that! Grassland birding is some of the best, and this post makes me really want to return to that area, especially if SPPI are so easy that you can get them while relieving yourself!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's fantastic to say the least. There were all sorts of birds to be had while relieving oneself!

      Delete
  2. OMG You got the best list of grassy birds I've ever seen...so many lifers you must have been on Cloud 9! That Upland SP shot is awesome...just love it and the boyz look wonderful! Im putting this road down on my "Gotta go there before I die List"! Did you ebird it so I can map it?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thanks, Sondra! And good idea with the eBird checklists- I just added links to them at the end of the post.

      Delete
    2. Wonderful!! It is a great tool--thank you much!

      Delete
  3. I think I just drooled on myself. Killer birds!

    ReplyDelete
  4. Aw snap, a pile of life birds with great photos to boot. Love the singing CCLO.

    ReplyDelete
  5. I want to bird the shit out of that road...good thing Colorado is imminent. Hopefully the longspurs will be equally abiding there, stoked to see McCown's in alternate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Twas a good road indeed. I'm psyched to see what goes on in Colorado.

      Delete
  6. Wow those are some great birds! Super jealous.

    ReplyDelete

Post a Comment

Popular posts from this blog

Mount St. Helens

New England Backyard Wildlife

Scotes and 'ropes and things.