We’ve been doing some exploring following trails in Russell Country’s birding brochure titled “Wings Across the Big Sky”. Follow along as we share our knowledge gained!
Our first stop in this birdwatching trek was at Great Falls’ Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center located on the banks of the Missouri River. Here we learned about birds discovered by the expedition over 200 years ago. We walked out the north door of the Center towards the river to a paved, nonmotorized trail and began documenting birds. My first surprise was the cat bird. Yes, I was fooled and really did think there was a cat in the bush! In the short distance between the Lewis & Clark Interpretive Center and Giant Springs State Park, we noted over 15 different birds.
Giant Springs State Park is a well manicured, day-use state park that proved to be a photo-op waiting to happen for our group. The Lazuli bunting, my next favorite bird, made me feel like I was in the tropics after I saw its blue irridescent colors. From Brewer’s blackbirds bathing and swimming in the springs, to the Great-horned owls, this park made my list as amazing for birding. A mother owl and two owlets perched and posed for our photos. The words of my birdwatching coach came to mind when she said, just look up and you’ll see the birds!
It was difficult to leave Giant Springs but we did want to experience several birding trails. We started driving to First Peoples Buffalo Jump and became instantly sidetracked when we saw water and spray coming up from Black Eagle Falls, just upriver from Giant Springs. We weren’t the only ones who stopped for photos of this sight! The photo below is taken from River Drive above Black Eagle Falls and Dam.
When we arrived at First Peoples Buffalo Jump State Park just past the small town of Ulm, our first sighting was a Say’s phoebe nesting above one of the outdoor lights on the Visitor Center. After we learned the history of the buffalo jump and uses of buffalo to our native peoples, we drove up on top of the cliff and walked past the prairie dog town. Needless to say, our arrival was announced from one prairie dog mound to another with constant chattering from those little critters!
Daylight was fading as we traveled north on US Hwy 89 to the Fairfield Park Inn in Fairfield, MT. We checked in to the bed & breakfast and made plans for an early start the next day. Rooms at the B&B are themed and include fishing, antiques, western and birding (ask for the Looney Bin if you want to keep the theme).
Copies of Russell Country’s birding brochure are available by calling 800-527-5348 or also on our website. Stay tuned for day #2 of our birding adventure!