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.

2022 Last Chance Audubon Society Field Trips and More

May 1-7: WORLD MIGRATORY BIRD DAY

The Montana Discovery Foundation is coordinating a variety of bird walks and programs for the week leading up to World Migratory Bird Day. LCAS volunteers will be leading several of the guided bird walks. For details, visit http://www.montanadiscoveryfoundation.org/programs/wmbd/.

May 29: SEVENMILE CREEK SPRING BIRDS

Join Shane Sater for this exploration of Prickly Pear Land Trust’s restoration site on Sevenmile Creek, near the height of spring migration. The site burned a year and a half ago and the habitat is still recovering (see page 7) – but even so, it is possible to see over 50 species here at this time of year, including sparrows, warblers, swallows, and raptors. Terrain is uneven but fairly level; there is no trail. Meet at 6:00 am at the west end of the Lundy Center; we will return around 11:00 am. No dogs, please. Contact Shane to register, shsater@gmail.com.

June 3-5: WINGS ACROSS THE BIG SKY

Montana Audubon’s annual bird festival is taking place in Lewistown, MT. For details, visit https://mtaudubon.org/outreach/montana-bird-festival/.

June 4: SPRING MEADOW LAKE & CHEVALLIER DRIVE

Join David Ewer in observing the diversity of late spring birds in two local riparian habitats. Meet at 7:00 am at the Spring Meadow Lake parking lot on Country Club Ave. The group will bird around the entire lake (about ¾ mile) and then continue to Chevallier Dr and bird/drive to near the interstate, where the guided portion of the trip will end around 12-1 pm. This gravel/dirt road gets light but constant traffic on the weekends; walking opportunities here are limited. Watch for Bullock’s Orioles, Yellow Warblers, vireos, various swallows, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Northern Waterthrushes, and Brewer’s Sparrows. Other possible sightings include Yellow-breasted Chat and Lewis’s Woodpecker. Young children are welcome but no dogs, please. Toilet facilities are available at Spring Meadow Lake but not along Chevallier Dr. Contact David, 406-202-2933, with any questions.

June 11: MULLAN ROAD

Sharon Dewart-Hansen will lead a trip to Mullan Road on the west side of McDonald Pass. As many as 46 species can be seen in this area, including Veery, Northern Waterthrush, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Willow Flycatcher, Red-naped Sapsucker, and Lazuli Bunting. Meet at the west end of the Lundy Center (on Euclid) at 6:30 am and expect to return by roughly 12:00 pm. Contact Sharon by May 30 at smdewarthansen@charter.net to reserve a spot.

June 20: NORTH JEFFERSON COUNTY

Dan Ellison will lead this excursion to two riparian areas: Ash Grove Park along Prickly Pear Creek, and Buffalo Creek northwest of Clancy. The stands of streamside cottonwoods, alders, willows, and chokecherries attract warblers, woodpeckers, flycatchers, vireos, thrushes, and more. Look for Western Tanagers, Veeries, Lazuli Buntings, and Rock Wrens. It may also be possible to visit active Mountain and Western Bluebird nest boxes on this trip. Walking will be on mostly level ground on an improved trail, with some exploring among the streamside vegetation. The only restroom is a serviceable port-a-pot at Ashgrove Park. Meet at 6:45 am at the Montana City Grill (carpooling is encouraged); expect to return by 11:00 am. Maximum group size is 10 and a minimum of 4 must be registered by June 13 to avoid trip cancellation – so register early by contacting Dan, daellison70@gmail.com, with your name(s) and a good phone number for exchanging text messages.

June 26: SEVENMILE CREEK BREEDING BIRDS

Shane Sater will lead this morning walk at Sevenmile Creek near the peak of the nesting season. Expect to see an abundance of grassland breeders such as Western Meadowlarks and Savannah Sparrows. Riparian thickets suffered a setback when this site burned a year and a half ago, so we will be keeping our eyes peeled for thicket-nesters and trying to find out how well the habitat is recovering. Terrain is uneven but fairly level; there is no trail. Meet at 6:00 am at the west end of the Lundy Center; we will return around 11:00 am. No dogs, please. Contact Shane to register, shsater@gmail.com.

June 28: INTRO TO BIRD SURVEYS & eBIRD

Stephen Turner and MT Audubon’s Peter Dudley will be co-leading an evening walk (6:00 pm) at Spring Meadow Lake to introduce participants to bird ID, bird survey techniques and to eBird, the powerful crowd-sourced bird database. This event is intended for people who enjoy birding, have some knowledge of local bird species, and are looking to expand their repertoire. Registration is required for this event and opens on June 14: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/180049.

July 9: LITTLE BLACKFOOT RIVER AND TELEGRAPH CREEK

Don Skaar will lead this trip upstream along the Little Blackfoot River and Telegraph Creek, then over the Continental Divide and down to the Tenmile Creek road. Expect normal riparian and conifer-forest birds, hopefully including Cassin’s Vireo, Northern Waterthrush, Rufous Hummingbird, Cordilleran Flycatcher, White-crowned Sparrow, Lincoln’s Sparrow, and Wilson’s Warbler. Meet at the west end of the Lundy Center parking lot at 6:30 am and expect to be done around noon. We will try to carpool as much as possible. To register, call Don Skaar, 406-465-6135.

August 9: SEVENMILE CREEK BIRDS

Shane Sater will lead this hour-long evening walk along Sevenmile Creek in search of birds as the nesting season wraps up and the first hints of fall migration are beginning. Expect uneven but fairly level terrain; we will cross the creek on a plank bridge. Registration for this walk opens on July 26: https://www.register-ed.com/events/view/180030.

August 16: SEVENMILE CREEK INSECT DIVERSITY

What do insects have to do with birds? Join Shane Sater for this hour-long evening walk in search of insects and their roles in the ecosystem along Sevenmile Creek. Expect uneven but level terrain. Registration for this walk opens on August 2: https://www.register-ed.com/events/ view/180031.

September 4: WORLD SHOREBIRDS DAY

Stephen Turner will lead a trip to Canyon Ferry WMA to survey for migrating shorebirds. Several shorebird ID experts will be on hand. Meet at the northeast end of the Costco parking lot at 7:00 am (please arrive a few minutes early). Return no later than 1:00 pm. This trip has limited space. It is free to current LCAS members. Non-members pay $15, which includes a one-year membership to LCAS. Expect a 1.5-mile round-trip walk on dirt roads. Contact Stephen to register: turnstonest@gmail.com.

*IMPORTANT -PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL LEADERS TO MAKE RESERVATIONS. IN THE EVENT THAT YOU NEED TO BACK OUT OF A RESERVATION, PLEASE NOTIFY THE LEADER AS OTHERS MAY BE ON A WAITING LIST TO ATTEND THE FIELD TRIP. BRING BINOCULARS, SCOPE IF APPROPRIATE, FIELD GUIDE, SNACKS AND WATER. DRESS FOR THE WEATHER.

ONGOING FIELD TRIPS:

BIRDS & BEASLEYS SATURDAY MORNING BIRD WALKS
Beginning May 14, 2022 and ending August 27, 2022

Meet at Birds & Beasleys, 2 S. Last Chance Gulch at 7:30am each Saturday to enjoy two hours of local bird fun. Locations rotate throughout the summer but include Spring Meadow Lake, Fairgrounds Pond, and the Ash Grove 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.