|Georgetown Lake near Anaconda, Montana|
The final two days of my trip are easily summarized. I had heard that Great Gray Owls could be found at Georgetown Lake near Anaconda, Montana. I was in Missoula, so the lake was about an hour away. But that night I had to be in Spokane, Washington, about 300 miles to the west of the lake. That meant that with birding miles added in, I would have about a 500 mile drive. Still, Great Gray Owl was really high on my wish list, so I headed east on I-90 and south on MT 1. I think I crossed Flint Creek a dozen times along the way, passing through a series of tiny towns and reaching the lake while the morning was still young.
|Red-necked Grebes on a Family Outing|
I headed back north on Route 1 intending to have lunch in Philipsburg, but the little town was hosting some kind of antique car festival. The streets were packed with revelers and the only restaurant I could find was filled to overflowing. I continued up the road, eventually landing in Drummond at Parker's Family Restaurant which advertised 135 different types of burgers. I waded through a binder with the burger descriptions, picked something with roasted red peppers, and ordered it. It was fantastic! I ate a huge meal, left a nice tip for the friendly waitress, and bought some soft-serve ice cream at a stand next door. When it was gone, I climbed back in the car and drove to Spokane. I had one day left on my trip, and I hoped to make it a good one.
|Immature Dark-eyed Junco|
There were a lot of obstacles and surprises on this trip. On the other hand, many of them turned into good opportunities. The fires in Glacier altered that entire experience, but led me to stop at Nine-pipes and find my life Clark's Grebe. The need to purchase a one-day state park pass at Walmart dramatically delayed everything on the first day, but led me to be in the Fields Spring parking lot at the precise moment my life Red-naped Sapsucker came down to eye-level to feed. I was frustrated at times, but in retrospect, it was actually a very successful trip. To be sure, I missed a number of my target birds including MacGillivray's Warbler and Spotted Owl. But I had 104 species including six lifers. If I had known those numbers going into the trip, I would have gladly taken them.
More importantly, I saw some extraordinary places, met some terrific people, and came away with a rich appreciation for a part of our country I had never seen. And that alone made the trip worth while.
|This is an adult Red-necked Grebe.|
|The view from the CCC cabin at the top of Mount Spokane.|
|Only a birder can know the excitement of seeing that brown back! It's my second-ever Chestnut-backed Chickadee,|
|This is an Aphrodite Fritillary, the first of its kind I've ever seen/|
|I think this is a Lorquin's Admiral, another butterfly I had never seen before.|