Twelve Reasons WC Loves Camas Prairie


As WC has noted here before, early Idahoans had a failure of imagination when it came to local place names. There are at least three places called “Camas Prairie” in Idaho. WC is talking about the one in south-central Idaho, north of the Snake River Plain, bisected by Camas Creek and draining to the east. It’s probably a rift valley; there’s a welt of volcanism running the length of it, which makes it interesting geologically, too.1

But the reason WC loves the Camas Prairie is that it is a superb place to see and photograph impressive numbers of birds. The topography – high mountains to the north and south – means a lot of snow melt runs down onto Camas Prairie over a long time. Snow on the southerly slopes on the northerly mountains melts first; the shaded snows on the northerly slopes of the southerly mountains melt later. As a result, the marshes there don’t usually dry until August. They snows on the northerly slope of the Bennett Mountains are the last to melt. It’s wet enough long enough that wetland species can breed. And so they do. As a result, the birding is very good.

These aren’t WC’s best photos, or all of the bird species WC has photographed at Camas Prairie. But it’s  sampler.

Horned Lark, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Horned Lark, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Sora, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Sora, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

American Bittern, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

American Bittern, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Western Wood Peewee, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Western Wood Pee-wee, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Wilson's Warbler, Wild Horse Creek, Camas Prairie

Wilson’s Warbler, Wild Horse Creek, Camas Prairie

Willet, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Willet, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

American Avocet, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

American Avocet, Centennial Marsh, Camas Prairie

Western Kingbird, Hill City Road, Camas Prairie

Western Kingbird, Hill City Road, Camas Prairie

Vesper Sparrow, Schoolhouse Rod, Camas Prairie

Vesper Sparrow, Schoolhouse Road, Camas Prairie

Wilson's Phalarope, Camas Creek, Camas Prairie

Wilson’s Phalarope, Camas Creek, Camas Prairie

Mountain Bluebird, Upper Cow Creek, Camas Prairie

Mountain Bluebird, Upper Cow Creek, Camas Prairie

Rock Wren, Magic Reservoir, Camas Prairie

Rock Wren, Magic Reservoir, Camas Prairie

Camas Lilies, Camas Prairie

Oh, yeah, Camas Lilies, Camas Prairie

The Camas Lilies aren’t present in large numbers every year, but when they are they are very impressive, even if they don’t have feathers.

Birders viewing this will note that there aren’t any raptors. That will be another, later post.

There’s an Idaho Birding Trail. It lists dozens of birding site across the state. WC hasn’t been to all of them. Yet. But of those he has visited, Camas Prairie, by a considerable margin, is the best.

 


  1. It’s not a prairie either. Perhaps it was all that time in the mountains as they  emigrated west (Camas Prairie was the route of Goodale’s Cutoff along the Oregon Trail), but there was a tendency among those early arrivals to call any marginally flat area a “prairie.” 
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