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Smith Lake & West Valley Wetland Birding Tour

Photos, March 22, 2014

mtbluebird-birding guideSigns of spring are here as large flocks of ducks, geese, swans, and other migratory waterfowl arrive in the Flathead Valley’s wetlands scattered throughout the valley’s farm fields and the shores of Flathead Lake.

P1050127Over 26 people joined bird expert Dan Casey, guiding Saturdays’ birding tour around Smith Lake and West Valley wetlands, to observe migratory waterfowl and other birds that use wetlands and surrounding uplands.

Beginner and advanced bird enthusiasts were able to enjoy a close view of many birds thanks to several experts joining the tour and sharing their knowledge and spotting scopes. Birds observed ranged from Mallards, Northern Pintail, Western and Mountain Bluebirds, and young bald eagles around Smith Lake, to Tundra Swans, Common and Barrow’s Goldeye, Northern Shoveler,  Green-winged Teal, American and Eurasian Widgeon, Wood Ducks, Lesser Scaup, and in the open wetlands and ponds scattered throughout the West Valley agricultural fields.

Photo by JukkaJantunen, VIREO

Photo by JukkaJantunen, VIREO

Landowner and farmer Pete Wade talked about his efforts to place 50 acres in a conservation easement around the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area. The conservation easement would help protect both the farming soils and the wetland habitat that is so important to migratory waterfowl. The Flathead Land Trust recently secured two grants (Small North America Wetlands Conservation Act and Traveler’s for Open Lands grants) to help protect these wetlands – critical stopping, feeding, and breeding places for birds. To read more about this click here..

P1050123The tour was organized by Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners, including the Flathead Land Trust, the Flathead Lakers, and the American Bird Conservancy. The Flathead Lakers work closely with Flathead River to Lake Initiative partners to find solutions that work for landowners to help protect critical lands for sustaining clean water.

Thank you everyone for a great birding field trip! To view a map and guide to birding in the Flathead Valley click here.

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