Field Trips

Great gray Owl by Bob Martinka

Last Chance Audubon Society offers birding trips lead by experienced birders to local areas around the Helena valley. Trips are free and open to members and nonmembers. Participants at any level of skill and experience are encouraged to attend. Trip leaders provide information on bird identification, natural history and conservation. Bird trips are most commonly scheduled between March and June.

Trips are a half day or longer depending on the area visited and usually involve car pooling among trip participants.

Each trip participants needs to have binoculars. Bring snacks or lunch if appropriate, water, and dress for the weather. A bird identification field guide is useful.  Please contact trip leaders to let them know your interest in attending their trip.

 

2017 Last Chance Audubon Society Field Trips and More

*PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL LEADERS TO MAKE RESERVATIONS. BRING BINOCULARS, SCOPE IF APPROPRIATE, FIELD GUIDE, SNACKS AND WATER. DRESS FOR THE WEATHER.

April 1-2, Saturday and Sunday – FREEZOUT LAKE NWR
Leader: Janice Miller

Meet Janice Miller at Albertson’s on Fee Ave. at 10:00 a.m. on Sat. This field trip is an overnight trip with hotel options in Choteau and Fairfield. “Freezout Lake is Montana’s primary snow goose staging area, a place where up to 300,000 snow geese and 10,000 tundra Swans gather and rest before flying onward to Saskatchewan and Alberta, Canada.” (From Visit MT.com.) We will meet with Michael Schwitters, FWP, who can answer our questions about the Refuge. We will plan to be at the Lake at sundown, and again at sunrise, to witness the hundreds of geese arriving or leaving under beautiful lighting. Other potential bird species: Bald Eagle, Red-tailed Hawk, Ring-necked Pheasant, Canada Geese, and other waterfowl. For more info contact Janice Miller at jan2854@gmail.com.

May 13, Saturday – WARM SPRINGS PONDS
Leaders: Brian Shovers & Jo Lace Meet: 7:30 AM

During last year’s tour of the ponds at Warm Springs we counted 65 species including a nesting Bald Eagle and nesting Great Horned Owls, as well as a wide array of ducks and shorebirds. The group counted 13 duck species, as well as a Sora, Black-necked Stilts, and a Long-billed Curlew. One of the day’s highlights was a Lewis’s Woodpecker. Over the years Gary Swant, a retired Deerlodge teacher, has documented the ponds and produced an impressive list of migrating birds. We will meet at the west end of the Lundy Center parking lot at 7:30 am and return to Helena about 3:30- 4 pm. Don and Andrea Stierle will join us at Warm Springs as co-leaders. Bring a lunch, binoculars, and dress for the weather. For more information contact Brian Shovers or Jo Lace at 443-6640 or at sholace1049@gmail.com. If you intend to join us let us know by May 10th.

May 20, Saturday – BROWN’S LAKE/BLACKFOOT VALLEY
Leader: Bob Martinka Meet: 6:30 AM

Meet Bob Martinka at west parking lot of Lundy Center on Euclid Ave. at 6:30am. Carpooling at the meeting location will be requested. The group will do some birding along the way to Brown’s Lake (about 90 miles). We will return to Helena about mid-afternoon, so bring lunches and drinks. The Upper Blackfoot Valley area is a quite birdy location and we can expect to see perhaps as many as 70+ species. Grassland birds along the way, cranes, marsh birds, waterfowl, grebes, swallows, terns, flycatchers, sparrows, warblers, possible orioles, perhaps Vaux’s Swifts, raptors, eagles, and others. For more info contact Bob Martinka at 449-3313, or rmartink@aol.com

June 4, Sunday – BIRD PHOTOGRAPHY: TIPS & TRICKS
Leader: Gail Moser – Meet: 5:30 PM

Meet Gail Moser, enthusiastic and award winning photographer, at the small shelter at the north end of the Fairgrounds Pond at 5:30pm for an evening of Bird Photography: Tips & Tricks. No matter your skill level or your camera gear, this will be a fun evening learning/sharing techniques for photographing birds. Be familiar with your camera and ISO, shutter speed and aperture settings. Students are welcomed to this class. Stephen Turner, an experienced birder, will join us and contribute to bird identification. Please call Gail at 406-202-2300, or email gmoser@mt.net for more information and to reserve a spot.

June 9-11, 2017 – Wings Across the Big Sky Bird Festival, Great Falls MT

Come join Montana Audubon and co-host Upper Missouri Breaks Audubon, for Montana Audubon’s Annual Bird Festival June 9-11, 2017, at the Best Western Plus Heritage Inn in Great Falls. All festival activities will take place Friday through Sunday at the Heritage Inn, including registration, field trip departures, guest speaker presentations, meals, banquet festivities, our 40th Anniversary barbecue, and much more. Details regarding the festival can be found at montanaaudubon/birdfestival.

June 17, Saturday – BIRDING 101 for Adults
Leader: Stephen Turner – Meet: 8 AM to 11 AM

Last Chance Audubon in cooperation with Montana WILD Education Center, is pleased to announce an adult education class for the birds! Get hands-on experience identifying birds through observation, both in the classroom and in the field. Learn about feathers and flight, bird song, migration and conservation. Best of all, start your own life list of feathered friends! Adults wishing to learn about birds through identification and natural history are welcome to this workshop. Class size will be limited to 12 participants. Everyone must register in advance to attend. There is no cost for the workshop and coffee and a snack will be provided. Binoculars will be provided for those who do not have them. All registrants should have the ability to navigate a one mile walk around Spring Meadow Lake. We will meet rain or shine; please dress for the weather. Meet at MT WILD, 2668 Broadwater. To register, contact Stephen Turner at stepturner@yahoo.com or Ryan Schmaltz at rschmaltz@mt.gov

June 20, Tuesday – BIRDING 101 for Kids
Leader: Stephen Turner – Meet: 6 PM to 9 PM

Last Chance Audubon in cooperation with Montana WILD Education Center, is pleased to announce a unique opportunity for students to learn about birds! Get hands-on experience identifying birds through observation, both in the classroom and in the field. Learn about feathers and flight, bird song, migration and conservation. Best of all, take an evening walk and start your own life list of feathered friends! Students entering grades 5-8 during the 2017-2018 school year are welcomed to this workshop. Class size will be limited to 12 participants. Students must register in advance to attend. There is no cost for the workshop. Binoculars will be provided by Montana WILD. All registrants should have the ability to navigate a one mile walk around Spring Meadow Lake. We will meet rain or shine; please dress for the weather. Meet at MT WILD, 2668 Broadwater. To register, contact Stephen Turner at stepturner@yahoo.com or Ryan Schmaltz at rschmaltz@mt.gov

September 2, Saturday – WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY
Leader: Coburn Currier

Last Chance Audubon is again hosting a field trip to the south end of CANYON FERRY LAKE WMA in support of World Shorebirds Day (WSD). This year the count will take place on Saturday, September 2nd. An alternate date for inclement weather will be Sunday Sept 3rd. We will meet in Helena to carpool to the southeast end of the reservoir and will walk into the area. Shore birding is best done by spotting scope, although many birds can be identified using binoculars. Participants are asked to bring a scope if they have one. Data from the census will be submitted through eBird. Information about World Shorebirds Day is available at worldshorebirdsday.wordpress.com. To participate please email Coburn Currier clcurrier@hotmail.com . Group size will be limited. Contact Coburn Currier at 449-2574 for inclement weather related date change.

September 22 & 23, Saturday & Sunday – RAPTOR ID CLASS AND FIELD TRIP

Steve Hoffman, raptor expert and retired Executive Director of MT Audubon, will teach a raptor ID class for all skill levels from 6:30 – 8:30 pm on Friday, September 22th, at Montana WILD Education Center. The Saturday Field Trip will meet at 8:00 am at Costco, north parking lot (near auto bays). The group will drive to the Golden Eagle Migration Survey (GEMS) site near Duck Creek Pass in the Big Belt Mountains. Carpooling is strongly recommended. High clearance and/or 4WD vehicles are also recommended. We will return by 5 pm. Birders will practice identifying raptors and assist the observers with sighting and recording raptor data. Raptors likely to be encountered: Golden Eagle, American Kestrel, Sharp-shinned Hawk, Cooper’s Hawk, Northern Goshawk, Red-tailed Hawk, and possibly Bald Eagle. Other species may include: Wild Turkey, Dusky Grouse, Red Crossbills, Clark’s Nutcrackers, Gray Jay and others. Field trip participants can choose to hike either to the main observation area (a 1.4 mile hike with a 900 vertical foot gain), or to the secondary site which is a short walk. There will be capable observers at both sites for the workshop. Dress for hiking and for the high mountain weather conditions at 8,000 ft. elevation. Bring lunch, water, snacks, day pack, binoculars, camera, and possibly a walking stick. Cost of $50/person for classroom and field trip is tax deductible. All funds raised  from the workshop benefit the GEMS project. 30 person limit. Registration is required and early reservations are advised. To reserve your place register online at GEMS Raptor ID Workshop or send your $50 check, payable to LCAS to: Janice Miller, 815 11th Ave, Helena, MT 59601. For more information contact Janice Miller at jan2854@gmail.com.

ONGOING FIELD TRIPS

Every Saturday, May 13 – August 26 – BIRDS & BEASLEYS SATURDAY MORNING BIRD WALKS

Meet at Birds & Beasleys, 2 S. Last Chance Gulch at 7:30am to enjoy two hours of local bird fun. Locations rotate throughout the summer but include Spring Meadow Lake, Fairgrounds Pond, and the Cement Plant trail along Prickly Pear Creek and anywhere the group decides to go. Trips are led by staff or experienced local birders. Families and beginning birders welcome. Call 449-0904 for more information.