TWIN FALLS â Pat Weber quietly, slowly scanned the Snake River through binoculars â then suddenly came to life.
âThereâs a tern! Yay! Itâs a Caspian tern,â Weber said. Then she added for my sake: âThatâs a good one.â
Fellow birder Jan Simpkin didnât need the explanation. Weber swung her scope and its tripod to her shoulder, and both women hustled downstream for another glimpse of the tern.
âThis is where you walk fast,â Weber said over her shoulder.
Until that moment, speed wasnât important on the morning of Aug. 10, as Weber and Simpkin watched and listened along the road to Auger Falls Heritage Park.
Breeding season was long past, but the lull before fall migration still offered good birding â and surprising close to the cityâs busy streets. I asked Weber to recommend three summer birding spots close to Twin Falls, then I tagged along as she and fellow Prairie Falcon Audubon members visited each one.
Novice birder? Download the Cornell Lab of Ornithologyâs free Merlin Bird ID app and head out to one of these spots at sunrise.
Road to Auger Falls Heritage Park
Where:Â From Blue Lakes Boulevard North at the north end of Twin Falls, take Canyon Springs Road west and down into the Snake River Canyon. Just after passing the cityâs wastewater treatment plant, park in one of the pullouts beside the road and continue on foot.
When:Â Weber chose 7 a.m., before traffic to the park picked up. (Then again, she chose the magic hour of 7 a.m. for each of our outings.)
The experience:Â Walking northwest on the gravel road, we had two habitats to watch: a steep sagebrush slope on our left and the tree-lined Snake River on our right. Before the sun broke the canyon rim, a âChi-ca-goâ call announced the presence of California quail, American white…