Generally when I have a choice, I choose to stay at Fish Creek or Avalanche Creek campground instead of Apgar. Apgar is huge, often crowded, and not quite as pretty as the other campgrounds on the west side. Although this is a large campground with lots and lots of people, it can still be good birding. It is imperative, however, that you awake before everyone else. When you do so, you’ll have the place to yourself. And, Apgar is the best, easiest place in the park for Hammond’s Flycatcher when they are still singing in June and early July.
The campground is set in lodgepole pine forest and is rather open. Early morning, walk each loop while looking and listening. It is likely to hear a Hammond’s Flycatcher in each loop, but search especially in loops A, C, and D. While searching for Hammond’s also watch for Hairy Woodpecker, Cassin’s Vireo, Townsend’s Warbler, Western Tanager, Rufous Hummingbird, and Townsend’s Solitaire. Then, after you’ve had a good walk in Apgar and a breakfast bar, head off to the Inside North Fork Road and Christensen Meadow.
Just two thoughts on Dusky and Hammond's Flycatchers. First, Dusky likes open habitat with shorter trees, whereas Hammond’s is seen most often in tall, contiguous forest. Second, their full songs are very similar, with the minor but important exception that Hammond’s has two phrases that are more guttural or raspy than sweet, whereas Dusky has only one raspy phrase. Good luck. I won’t quibble if you just use habitat as the key.
Top of page photo by Randy Patrick
David Benson Ph.D.
White-tailed Ptarmigan researcher and National Park Service Ranger Naturalist in GNP since 1995. "The Bird Ranger"