snake river float trip wooden boat

“You can’t be unhappy in the middle of a big, beautiful river.” – Jim Harrison

On Sunday, May 6, I had the privilege of participating in my first Nature Mapping Snake River float trip. And what a trip it was!

Along with fellow “bird nerds” Jon Mobeck and Tim Griffith (trip leader/coordinator) and guide Adam “Dutch” Gottschling, I spent two hours of the morning floating the eight-mile stretch of the Snake River between the Wilson bridge and Jackson Hole Vintage Adventure’s Tipi Camp.

Having recently moved to Jackson from the relatively flat plains and forests of the upper Midwest, I have a long way to go before I look up at the grandeur of the Tetons with anything but complete and utter awe. So, had we merely floated for two hours looking only at the river and surrounding mountains, without seeing any wildlife, I personally would have considered my Sunday morning well spent.

That said, we ended up observing over 40 species of birds, mammals and amphibians along the river and in the area immediately surrounding the Tipi Camp. Not bad for the first week of May! (Indeed, I’ve since learned that this is on the high end compared to historic species counts.)

Snake River Float Trip Birding

Highlights included 54 American White Pelicans (the largest number ever recorded on one trip), one Swainson’s Hawk, one Merlin, a Greater Yellowlegs and two moose. Though, based on the excitement in the boat, to call the Merlin and Greater Yellowlegs mere highlights is a gross understatement. For good reason too! It turns out only a handful of each species have been spotted by volunteer citizen scientists since the trips began in 2010.

I’d like to say it was beginner’s luck, but I’ve spent enough time appreciating the wild spectacle that is nature to know that to try to claim any credit is silly at best. Besides, who knows what will be seen throughout the rest of this summer? Either way, this trip was an awesome start to what is sure to be an amazing float trip season. Even without such a notable species list, I feel lucky to have been a part of such an experience—to have spent the morning exploring an area of nature that few have the chance to see in a way that even fewer are able to see it.

JHWF partners with AJ DeRosa’s Jackson Hole Vintage Adventures to provide this incredible opportunity to float down the eight-mile stretch of the Snake River between Wilson Bridge and South Park and to collect important data about the various species of mammals, birds and amphibians that use it. Trips take place every Sunday morning from May 6, 2018 through the end of September. Cost is $30 per participant. To learn more, visit the Snake River Float Trip webpage or call the office at 307-739-0968. To sign up for an upcoming trip, contact project coordinator and expert birder Tim Griffith at timgrif396@gmail.com.

Snake River Float Trip Counting Moose

Species Counts Along the Snake River

May 6, 2018 8:00 AM – 10:00 AM

Canada Goose 144
Mallard 56
Barrow’s Goldeneye 1
Common Merganser 24
American White Pelican 54
Great Blue Heron  3
Turkey Vulture  4
Osprey  1
Bald Eagle  6
Swainson’s Hawk  1
Red-tailed Hawk  1
Killdeer  3
Spotted Sandpiper  10
Greater Yellowlegs  1
Belted Kingfisher  4
Northern Flicker  4
Merlin  1
Black-billed Magpie  6
American Crow  14
Common Raven  3
Tree Swallow  50
Bank Swallow  5
Cliff Swallow  2
Black-capped Chickadee  7
Ruby-crowned Kinglet  11
Mountain Bluebird  7
American Robin  31
Yellow Warbler  1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s)  5
White-crowned Sparrow  2
Song Sparrow  47
Red-winged Blackbird  11
Brown-headed Cowbird  2
Brewer’s Blackbird  7
Moose 2
Marmot 2

Species Counts at Jackson Hole Vintage Adventure’s Tipi Camp

May 6, 2018 10:15 AM – 10:45 AM

Canada Goose 3
Mallard 3
Green-winged Teal 2
Common Merganser 2
Ruffed Grouse 1
American White Pelican 4
Osprey 2
Killdeer 1
Spotted Sandpiper 3
Downy Woodpecker 1
Common Raven 1
Tree Swallow 1
Black-capped Chickadee 6
Ruby-crowned Kinglet 5
American Robin 5
Yellow Warbler 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) 5
Dark-eyed Junco 1
White-crowned Sparrow 1
Song Sparrow 4
Red-winged Blackbird 1
Brewer’s Blackbird 2
Chipmunk 1
Frogs ? (unable to get an exact count)

Snake River Float Trip

Greater Yellowlegs!!

Celebrate Wildlife

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