Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Himalayan Snowcock II

To have any chance of seeing the snowcock (web photo) required that we leave the motel at 3:00am, so we could start the climb up the hill to Island Lake at 4:00am, and arrive at the lake at 5:00am well before sunrise.  Island Lake is in Lamoille Canyon in the Ruby Mountains south of Elko.  This is the most convenient place to try to see the snowcock, an introduced bird from Asia that loves to live at excedingly rugged high altitudes.  It was cold when we started up the hill.  It took about an hour to make it to the lake during which time my flashlight faded out.  At the lake we hiked up a little higher to put ourselves on a bench where we could observe the scree slopes and the rim of the cirque.  When the sun began to light up the rim and we hadn't heard anything, I began to get that uncomfortable feeling.  John wandered off up the hill and came back shortly to say he had heard a sound and turned to see two large birds drop off the rim and fly around the corner out of view.  John had seen two snowcocks, but not very well.  But I hadn't seen or heard any!  Then we both heard a far off call from a snowcock probably on the next ridge.  So at least I had heard it.  By then I had moved up the hill where I could hear much better away from the stream.  I turned to investigate a sound that sounded like fussing Northern Flickers and was surprised to find two large birds flying toward me.  They were snowcocks.  They flew up the hill, passing John by only a hundred feet or so.  With such a close sighting of a difficult lifebird it was very easy going down the trail and back to the car.  Motoring back into town, we had a nice breakfast and spent the rest of the afternoon north of Elko looking for Gray Partridges which we didn't find.  When we got back to town, we stopped in at a store where we had received birding advice last June.  We wanted to see if there was some new info on the partridge, and we did get a location to try tomorrow morning.  Our dinner location was a basque restaurant which served us family style.  The snowcock was lifebird #4, ABA bird # 759, and year bird #690.


  1. Love this report! I imagine you were practically dancing down the trail. Way to go. Renee