Land Trust News

Kelly Kountz Photo / Courtesy of Gallatin Valley Land Trust

Flathead Bikes and Birds

On Saturday morning, June 20, I entered “Kila Pub” into Google Maps to make sure I would arrive on time at the Flathead Land Trust starting point (Pub’s parking lot) for the 2020 Smith Lake Bike and Bird Tour.

The lady in my phone promptly announced “the pub will not be open when you arrive.” Well, that’s not a good way to start the day, I thought. Things have to get better than that.

And they did. I got to join Flathead Land Trust’s Paul Travis and Laura Katzman, Flathead Audubon birders and close to 40 FLT supporters for a 8.5 mile bike tour around the Smith Lake Waterfowl Production Area and adjacent FLT conserved lands.

It was another great outdoor event by FLT. The tour showcased strategic conservation efforts of FLT and other land trusts (over 2,000 acres conserved) in the Smith Valley, and the success and value of that mix of public and private conservation properties.

During an afternoon tour with Laura, and Josh Covill from Audubon, I learned things like there are six species of swallows that reside in western Montana, that Josh had recently spotted 71 different species of birds along a two mile dirt road stretch near Smith Lake, and that a bird we saw named the eastern kingbird (Tyrannus tyrannus) is pretty much a bad ass.

In addition to seeing eastern kingbirds, tour participants spotted pairs of sandhill cranes (with colts), a loon, swans, bald eagles, vultures, and several different song birds and swallows.

Thanks to Laura and Paul for allowing me to tag along on the tour. It was a terrific event by a land trust doing great work in the Flathead.

(Photo: Laura Katzman makes a point during the tour)