Last Chance Audubon Society
Promoting understanding, respect, and enjoyment of birds and the natural world
through education, habitat protection and environment advocacy.

Photo credits - Bob Martinka unless otherwise noted

LCAS web site funded by a bequest from the estate of Nancy Tunnicliff

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An Eagle Spectacle in the Big Belts

Presented by Ronan Dugan and Jeff Grayum - Photos by Ronan Dugan

Imagine seeing 23 Golden Eagles all at once, stretched across the sky, wings set in migration formation, soaring southeast at 40-mph. Chills run down your spine. But, then you realize there are also five Broad-winged Hawks zipping by, much lower and closer, and you can't believe your eyes! Ronan Dugan and Jeff Grayum, our primary Golden Eagle Migration Survey (GEMS) observers, will tell tales of adventure, wind, snow, camp life at 7,477 feet, misfortune, science, and eagles, illustrating their experience atop the Big Belt Mountains in the Helena- Lewis & Clark National Forest with outstanding photography.

Ronan Dugan, returning for his second year as an observer, was brought up on a Nature Reserve in the Scottish Highlands and educated in Scotland. From a young age he had extensive experience in wildlife conservation and research, including study of various bird species in Europe, Russia and Alaska. Dugan is also a landscape and wildlife photographer who has won various competitions and is published internationally. Jeff Grayum, joining the team this fall, was born in San Jose, Costa Rica and raised in St Louis, MO. He attended Humboldt State University in northern California, where he earned his BS in biology. A passionate birder for over a decade, he has finally decided to try to make a career out of it. His interests include backpacking, surfing and birding.

Where: Plymouth Congregational Church
When:Tuesday, November 8th, 7:00 PM - There will be no refreshments served at 6:30 as the program will be given in the church sanctuary.

Please note: Due to the popularity of this program, this presentation has been moved to Plymouth Congregational Church at 400 S Oakes - on the corner of Winne and Oakes. Please plan to arrive early for a good seat. Carpooling is highly recommended!



Yes! Last Chance Audubon is conducting bird seed sales as part of our fall fundraiser. The information for purchasing bird seed was omitted from the October newsletter, but is available simply by clicking this link BIRD SEED SALE. Help the birds and our chapter too by ordering yours today!



After many wonderful years of gathering at St. Paul's United Methodist Church, the LCAS board, after much deliberation, agreed to utilize the meeting space at Montana WILD for the upcoming 2016-2017 program season. The decision was based on a number of driving factors, chief among them was the facilities ability to expand in size. In addition, the audio/visual setup at St. Paul's was just not sufficient for many of our presenters, and Montana WILD is using state of the art equipment. We are very proud and honored to partner with Montana Fish, Wildlife and Parks! We will continue to gather at 6:30 PM for a bit of social time - cookies, drinks and bird stories, and the meetings will begin at 7:00 PM. We look forward to seeing you there!

NOTE: Montana WILD is located at 2668 Broadwater Ave. near Spring Meadow Lake.


One of the most exhilarating experiences that one can have is watching a Golden Eagle soar on open wings along a ridge line at roughly 40 miles per hour. It appears absolutely effortless. Strength, beauty, freedom... are all adjectives that come to mind watching these outstretched wings. GEMS! Yes! It is happening again! The 2016 Golden Eagle Migration Survey - GEMS, is well underway, and LCAS, along with Montana Audubon, US Forest Service and MT Fish, Wildlife and Parks, is taking a leading role in the effort. Two "volunteer" observers are perched near the summit of Mt. Baldy in the Big Belt Mountains, and are watching migrating raptors. If you have that desire to watch a raptor cruise by heading for more temperate climates, please plan to join the effort. There is no experience necessary. Our observers love visitors and will teach all you need to know. Just bring a pair of binoculars and let the raptors do the rest! For more information or to volunteer to help, please contact Janice Miller at Directions to the site can be found below.

Directions to the GEMS site:

Printable directions can be found HERE

From Townsend MT turn on to HWY 12 (Broadway) heading east. Drive 2.4 miles to HWY 284 and turn left. Go 11.1 miles and turn Right onto Duck Creek Road. Go 13.1 miles to the top of Duck Creek Pass. This will take 35 to 45 minutes to drive, and the road deteriorates and is rutted and rocky the last three miles. It is usually passable in a 2WD vehicle. At the pass, turn right - note the sign for the "Hidden Lake" trailhead - drive through a few trees to where it opens up, and park.

***Please be aware that mountain road conditions can change dramatically - especially when precipitation has occurred or is eminent. Plan carefully for your trip.***

The road (trail) from here becomes steep and is only accessible in a high clearance 4WD. If you choose to drive (not recommended), please park at the radio tower. From the trailhead it is a 45 minute hike with a 900ft elevation gain (approximately 1.5 mi.) to the observation point. The observation point is located 300m below the radio tower. If you are coming from White Sulphur Springs on the east side, follow the dirt road past Gypsy Lake and then on to Duck Creek Pass. Turn left at the Hidden Lake Trailhead sign. This road is also accessible by 2WD car and is usually in very good condition.

Please note that if there is low cloud/fog over the radio tower then we will be counting from a knoll just north of Duck Creek Pass (Lower Observation Point).