Field Trip Report, Day 2.

We hit a different trail today for another stellar day in Glacier National Park. This time, we ascended Snyder Lake Trail and found many fewer fellow hikers. We didn’t reach Snyder Lake, so didn’t see any water birds, but there were open areas from the Sprague Fire in 2017, which attracts different critters than the deep forest did along the Avalanche trail of yesterday.

Before we even got to the trail, though, I found this little cutie serenading us at the visitors’ center. He’s an Audubon’s warbler (Setophaga auduboni), the “western counterpart” of the myrtle warbler (Setophaga coronata coronata), which I’ve identified in Estabrook as a yellow-rumped warbler (Setophaga coronata), but which actually “combines four closely related forms.” Ach du lieber! Right?

Once we finally got going on the trial, the first amazing sight we came upon is this dazzling fairy slipper orchid (Calypso bulbosa), distant cousin of the pink lady’s slipper that my grandmother used to show me in the woods by her house.

Another difference from yesterday’s hike was the prevalence of mule deer (Odocoileus hemionus) They were everywhere, bucks and does, and not intimidated by us hikers in the least.

As we approached our turn-around-point, the trees were sparse and several small streams crossed the path, which brought the butterflies out like crazy.

Here’s a mourning cloak (Nymphalis antiopa), just like the ones we’ve seen in Estabrook.

This next one looks to be a hoary comma (Polygonia gracilis), but if you look here, you’ll see that there a slew of look-a-likes, so I could easily be mistaken.

Here’s one of the “blues“, maybe a northern azure (Celastrina lucia)

Even moths joined in the fray, and here’s an eight-spotted forester (Alypia octomaculata) sporting bright orange leggings.

A flower that also liked the water and sunlight is this note-quite-yet-opened rough-fruited fairybells (Prosartes trachycarpa)

On our way back, we really started finding the birds, and here’s a Steller’s Jay (Cyanocitta stelleri) that led me on a wild goose chase before finally finding the perfect perch.

There were a few western tanagers (Piranga ludoviciana) making quite a racket, but only this one showed itself.

The easiest one to find, because he nearly buzzed us on the way to the trunk of a nearby tree, is this handsome black-backed woodpecker (Picoides arcticus) in his tiny bright-yellow cap, not the not the American three-toed woodpecker (Picoides dorsalis) that I originally thought he was and whom I spotted a few days later in Yellowstone.

He’s also quite a successful hunter, at least today, and I watched him dig out two of these tasty-looking morsels before I left to catch back up to Anne.

It is postulated that “with only three toes, these species may be able to lean farther away from the tree and thereby hit the tree harder than other woodpeckers, all of which have four toes.”

Finally, in the parking lot, this tree swallow (Tachycineta bicolor), whom we’ve already seen from afar in Estabrook, was nesting in a post nearly at eye level. The second I blinked, it shot out of the hole like a rocket.

And there was another hoary comma (Polygonia gracilis) in the shrubbery at the Lake McDonald Lodge willing to show off both sides of its wings.

Can’t judge that book by its cover, eh? Well, tomorrow is a travel day, so probably no new post until Tuesday. See you then.

Published by Andrew Dressel

Theoretical and Applied Bicycle Mechanic, and now, apparently, Amateur Naturalist. In any case, my day job is teaching mechanics at UWM.

One thought on “Field Trip Report, Day 2.

  1. Your new camera is serving you well. Beautiful pictures. Hope your weather is fine. It’s normal Memorial Day week-end here – chilly, windy and rainy. Better days coming this week. Checking your email this week? Lots of “fan mail” coming in . . . . .


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