Monday, April 30, 2012

A Rare Warbler on 4/30 plus a number of other recent sightings

On Thur 4/26 I was driving past Boedecker Reservoir I noticed some large shorebirds on a spit. While stopped I quickly realized they were Marbled Godwit, 11 of them.
                                                    Marbled Godwit

                                                    Marbled Godwit

On a walk along the Big Thompson River, also on 4/26, produced an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron (205) and a juvenile Broad-winged Hawk. When I arrived at the funeral home for my Grandfather's funeral I started thinking about it. The Black-crowned Night-Heron was the first bird on my life list as it was the first bird I identified after my Environmental Science class I took in High School where we learned about birds. The best thing about seeing that first Black-crowned Night-Heron is I was with my grandfather when I saw it and this bird on 4/26 being my only year bird of the day and on the same day we were laying my grandfather down to rest.
                                             Black-crowned Night-Heron

Then on 4/28 while driving from my parents house to get pizza for us and a bunch of family I spotted several larger shorebirds at Boedecker Reservoir. When I stopped and got my binoculars on they I quickly realized they were Whimbrel. Not only were these Whimbrel year bird 206, but more importantly they were Larimer County life bird 370 and they are the only Larimer life bird I have seen so far this year. I quickly went and picked up the pizza and took it home. I then left immediately to go back to Boedecker and they were still there. I took lots of photos of these birds and got one good photo. In the 45 minutes I was watching them several people got to see these birds which included Cade Cropper, Elane Coley (and husband), Cheri Orwig, Connie Kogler (and husband), and Denise Bretting (and husband). Other interesting birds present was 1 Hooded Merganser, 1 Lesser Scaup, 1 Northern Shoveler, 1 Eared Grebe, 1 flyover Peregrine Falcon, and 7 flyover White-faced Ibis (I got a good look at every bird to make sure there was no Glossy with them).

                                                    Peregrine Falcon

On 4/29, again driving by Boedecker Reservoir I saw 2 large shorebirds in the same spot as the Whimbrel from the day before. This time there was 2 Willets.
Today, 4/30, I got a call from Sean Walters that he had just seen a Northern Parula at his house. My brother and I were on the way into town, so we headed over there. We found the Northern Parula (207) in the first 5 minutes we were there. He showed us around his property and told me I was welcome to come bird it anytime I would like. Thank you Sean for the phone call about this bird and your welcome hospitality.
                                                    Northern Parula

Since I had good luck at Boedecker Reservoir on the previous two days I decided to make another stop. At the same location along the shore I found a great looking Spotted Sandpiper (208). Also there was a group of 27 Eared Grebes.
I also refound the pair of Eastern Bluebirds at the NW corner of 1st Street and CR23E. These birds appear like they are attempting to breed and they have been there since 4/22.
                                                    Eastern Bluebird

                                                    Eastern Bluebird

Thursday, April 26, 2012

A Day for Photography in Rocky Mountain National Park 4/24

I talked my dad into going to Rocky Mountain National Park, so he could get his mind clear from everything that has happened recently.
Our first stop was at a migrant trap, which was the north side of Lake Estes. It was very slow and the only warblers we could find was a handful of Yellow-rumped. I was able to hear a Ruby-crowned Kinglet (203) singing out in the golf course.
                                                     Pine Siskin

We then headed into the park and driving through Horseshoe Park we saw a heard of elk and saw a single hen Wild Turkey.
Our first stop in the park was Endovalley looking for pictures of sapsuckers. We found the Great Horned Owl nest that hangs over the road with a single bird looking out of it. We then heard a little tapping and quickly found a male Red-naped Sapsucker peering out of it. After a few minutes it flew and about 30 seconds later came back to do more work on the outer side of the hole. We eventually found 7 Red-naped Sapsuckers in the area along with a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and Red-breasted Nuthatch. A couple Wilson's Snipes were calling in the distance.
                                                  Red-naped Sapsucker

                                                Red-naped Sapsucker

                                                 Red-naped Sapsucker

                                                Ruby-crowned Kinglet

                                                   Mountain Bluebird

We then continued on to Upper Beaver Meadows looking for more sapsuckers. When we got out of the car we saw and talked to Kevin Cook for a brief minute. We then started hearing some sapsuckers calling from up the hill, so we went after them. On the way we found several Chipping Sparrows at close range as was a Tree Swallow sitting up in a tree. As we got close to where we heard the sapsuckers I heard some soft tapping, so I decided to check it out and I quickly found a Mountain Chickadee working on a hole getting ready for breeding season and it didn't seem to care that I was two feet from it and I got several great photos. We then found a male Williamson's Sapsucker, but it immediately flew down the hill and we followed. We refound it working on a tree feeding. The number of sapsucker wells on this tree was amazing. We watched and photographed the male for a good 15 to 20 minutes until a female came in, the two said a few choice words, then the male flew off and the female took over on the well the male had been working on. We watched the female for another 5 minutes. As we were walking back I noticed something jump about a foot away from me and quickly realized it was an Abert's Squirrel. We also saw several Wyoming Ground-Squirrels.

We then took a drive around Mary's Lake and around Fish Creek Road, but didn't see much of interest. I did get a few good pictures of some more common species.

We then took the back way home going down Devils Gulch Road instead of Highway 34. On Devils Gulch Road, but still in the Estes Valley we saw several Mountain Bluebirds and Tree Swallows on the fences. I started watching the rock cliffs when they stretch over the river and we found several American Dipper nests and a few others that were just being started.

When we got back on 1st Street just at CR 23E we refound one of the Eastern Bluebirds that we had found at this location on Sunday.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Year Bird 200 plus some 4/23

Cheri Orwig and I took a trip north of Wellington today looking for Burrowing Owls and Mountain Plovers along with anything else we could find. Our first stop was Cobb Lake on the way to the Prairie Dog Colony on the County Line Road. Nothing to interesting at Cobb, but Cheri got a year bird with Yellow-headed Blackbird.
On County Line Road we found a flock of Vesper Sparrows and hanging out with it was a Brewer's Sparrow (199). The birds were flying back and forth across the County Line Road. At the Prairie Dog colony I quickly picked up on a Burrowing Owl (200) we also found a second at the same location. This was a great bird to see for Larimer County year bird 200.
On our way towards Wellington while driving on County Road 42 we found a Rock Wren (201) close to the road.
                                                      Rock Wren

                                                    Savannah Sparrow

We made a stop at Steve and Kathy Martins house. There wasn't much around in terms of migrants. A few interesting birds we saw was a continuing White-throated Sparrow, a House Wren, and 4 Great Horned Owls (2 adults, 2 owlets).
                                                  White-throated Sparrow

We then made stops at Bee Lake, North Poudre #4, Boxelder Reservoir #3, and North Poudre Reservoir #3. The only interesting bird was a continuing alternate plummage Common Loon at North Poudre #4.
We then got on County Road 9 between Owl Canyon Road and Buckeye Road. On the drive on this road we found Burrowing Owls at 3 different locations with a total of 8 individuals.
                                                     Burrowing Owl

                                                       Tree Swallow

We then went on County Road 5 from Buckeye Road to the end north of County Road 5. We ended up seeing a number of McCown's Longspurs. In one location while looking for the longspurs I saw a snake in the field acting very strange. I hurried out there with my camera and it was a Bullsnake laying eggs in a hole. There were also several Vesper Sparrows with a couple Brewer's Sparrows.
                                                    Brewer's Sparrow



Hamilton Reservoir had quite a few birds, but couldn't locate anything of interest. We also checked several fields which looks good for Mountain Plover, but never found any during the day.
Our last stop was Duck Lake, which is still producing a lot of birds. We ended up seeing 4 Killdeer, 1 Black-necked Stilt, 19 American Avocet, 16 Marbled Godwit, and 8 Wilson's Phalarope (202) along with the typical ducks.
                                                   Wilson's Phalarope

Sunday, April 22, 2012

A quick mountain trip plus all 3 bluebirds 4/22

I went with my dad up to Storm Mountain to let one of my Grandpa's friends the horrible news that Grandpa had passed away. Didn't really do any birding, but kept an eye out while driving and made several stops to identify some birds. Some of the more interesting species were Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds, Vesper Sparrows, Tree Swallows, Violet-green Swallows, Red-breasted Nuthatch, and Loggerhead Shrike.
                                                       Tree Swallow

                                                  Violet-green Swallow

                                                  Violet-green Swallow

Just before we got to the mouth of the Big Thompson Canyon I noticed 2 White-throated Swifts (197) flying around, so we found a pulloff and stopped. I was able to find 2 Violet-green Swallows and 4 White-throated Swifts in total. I was surprised that we didn't hear any wrens. We were getting close to getting home while driving on 1st Street just west of CR 23E and I noticed 2 bluebirds sitting on the telephone wires. We turned around and I took photos of the Eastern Bluebirds, which makes for a 3 bluebird day in Larimer County, which is a rare feat.
                                                     Eastern Bluebird

Just as it was getting dark I was standing outside of my house and I heard a Common Poorwill (198) calling in the distance. This is the 4th time I have heard them at my house.

Horrible Day, Good Birds 4/21

Early in the morning I got a phone call from my parents to find out my Grandpa had passed away. What a horrible way to start a day.
I decided to still go on Connie Kogler's bird walk that she was leading and found out that 40 people had showed up to this event. We saw quite a few species with the best being a Sharp-shinned Hawk, Peregrine Falcan, and Sage Thrasher (196). I also heard a bird sing once when I was behind the group down by the river that sounded very good for a Hooded Warbler, but a search after the field trip didn't turn one up.
                                               Brown-headed Cowbird

                                                      Sage Thrasher

I then made a quick stop at Duck Lake, Fossil Creek Marsh, and Kechter Pit on my way to work. At Duck Lake the highlights were 7 Black-necked Stilts, 7 American Avocets, and 5 Greater Yellowlegs. Fossil Creek Marsh had 16 American Avocets and 1 Greater Yellowlegs. The last stop, which was Kechter Pit, had 4 American Avocets and 1 Least Sandpiper. 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Long walk on the Big Thompson Bike Trail 4/20

I decided to take a walk around Morey Wildlife Preserve and then go over to the Big Thompson Bike Trail. At Morey there were only 8 Yellow-rumped Warblers and a large flyover Cooper's Hawk was a nice add. Then on my way towards Highway 34 from Morey I stopped at the bridge going over the Big Thompson River. I immediately heard a phoebe calling, but I wasn't able to see it. It sounded more like an Eastern, but I am not going to say it wasn't a Black.
The Big Thompson Bike Trail was very birdy, so I decided to walk it from Wilson all the way to Roosevelt Ave. During the walk I saw over 200 Yellow-rumped Warblers. Immediately after I started walking I heard and then saw the first of several singing House Wrens (191). In the same bush was the first of two Lincoln's Sparrows. I then found a pair of Great Horned Owls in a thick tree. The Eastern Phoebes and Solitary Sandpiper was still at the previously described locations. Then below the diversion dam I found an Orange-crowned Warbler (192) with some Yellow-rumped. As I was getting close to Taft Ave I found an adult Broad-winged Hawk (193) sitting up in a tree. Just as I pulled up my binoculars the bird flew and quickly disappeared. Then shortly before I got to 1st St I found 3 Chipping Sparrows (194). South of 1st Street I found a couple birds of interest. The first bird I saw on the ground on the north side of the river. This Hermit Thrush (195) was the fifth year bird I saw during this walk. Then shortly after that I saw a wren hopping around, but immediately noticed it had a stub tail, but quickly disappeared. I then tried to get it in with using playback and it eventually started calling making this bird a Winter Wren.

Poor Weather 4/19

It was a very cloudy day, which meant the birds could be good. On my lunch break I went back over to Timnath Reservoir. There I saw more Franklin's Gulls in one spot than I ever have before. There were at least 500 Franklin's Gulls flying over the lake and more flying in from the east. While standing on the north east side I heard 3 Virginia Rails calling back and forth to each other in the cattails and I also heard a Ring-necked Pheasant calling at the same time. I also had a flyover Ferruginous Hawk in the same thermal as a Red-tailed Hawk.
After work I made several stops in the rain. First stop was at Kechter Pit. Here the only good bird was a Marbled Godwit being chased around by 2 Ring-billed Gulls.
Then a stop at Fossil Creek Reservoir. I immediately found a large group of about 1000 swallows flying in the distance. After carefully looking through them I found out over 90% of them were Tree Swallows. I was able to find several Northern Rough-winged, Bank, and Barn Swallows with them and one of each of Cliff and Violet-green Swallows (190). While looking through the swallows I found a Peregrine Falcon sitting at the top of a tree on the north side of the reservoir.
At Duck Lake the large shorebirds are still around. I saw 9 Black-necked Stilts, 4 American Avocets, 6 Greater Yellowlegs, 1 Lesser Yellowlegs, and 3 Killdeer.
Horseshoe Lake also had large numbers of Franklin's Gulls. The best bird was a very confusing gull. Nick Komar also saw it. After carefully thinking about the field marks it was probably a very worn 2nd year Thayer's Gull.
Lake Loveland held 2 Bonaparte's Gulls and a flyover Osprey.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Worm-eating Warbler 4/18

This morning I decided to take a walk along the Big Thompson River starting at the Wilson bridge. Along the trail I saw over 50 Yellow-rumped Warblers, with most being the 'Myrtle' subspecies. After I was there for about 15 minutes I ran into Elaine Coley who told me she had just seen a bird she has never seen before and her thoughts on the bird was Worm-eating Warbler. This immediately got me thinking about a bird I heard in the same area 2 days ago and it was probably a Worm-eating, but their song is similar to Chipping Sparrows and a few other species. After a while of looking and running in to Kennith Lane I decided it would be a good idea to play the tape. We played the song for a little while with nothing happening, so I changed to its call. This brought in a bunch of birds with the majority being Yellow-rumped Warblers. I then decided to go back to the song. After playing it for 30 seconds or so I heard the identical song responding back to the tape. Unfortunately I didn't see it, but I heard a Worm-eating Warbler (188) and I will try for it on Friday to try for photographs. Both Eastern Phoebes were in the same area they have been in. A few other birds of interest was Sharp-shinned Hawk and Savannah Sparrow.
I then went to the Cattail Pond area. Nothing of interest was on any of the bodies of water in the area, but there was a large number of swallows flying around Bud Mielke Resevoir. I started looking at all the birds sitting on the wire. Most of the swallows were Tree Swallows, but with them were a handful of Barn Swallows and 2 Northern Rough-winged Swallow (189) and perhaps more species were around, but I didn't see any. Then just down the road I got some great photos of a Swainson's Hawk sitting on a road sign.
Before work I met up with Cade Cropper looking for the Worm-eating Warbler. We never found it, but again saw the Eastern Phoebes. The Solitary Sandpiper had also returned to the same spot where I found it yesterday.
I then went to Duck Lake looking for more shorebirds. I was able to find 9 (yes, 9) Black-necked Stilts, 9 American Avocets, 6 Greater Yellowlegs, and 3 Killdeer. I also got great looks at very close Blue-winged Teal.
A quick stop at Kechter Pit didn't produce much of interest.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

More Larimer Shorebirds 4/17

This morning I decided to hike the Big Thompson Bike Trail again. On the way I stopped by Boedecker Reservoir and saw 14 Western Grebes, 13 Franklin's Gulls, and 4 White-faced Ibis. The numbers of Yellow-rumped Warblers continue to grow along the bike trail of both subspecies and integrades between them. Both Eastern Phoebes continue and after talking with Elaine Coley I found out they have finished building their nest. At one point in time I flushed a Great Horned Owl out of a tree while walking through the woods. The best bird was the second shorebird I saw in the area, Killdeer being the first and Solitary Sandpiper (186) was the other.
                                                   Solitary Sandpiper

                                                   Solitary Sandpiper

I then stopped at Duck Lake. Here I found 4 species of shorebirds. Several Killdeer, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 3 Black-necked Stilts, and 1 Willet (187). The Trumpeter Swan appears to have left the area. The numbers of waterfowl has also grown since the last time I have been there, but still all expected species.

A stop at Kechter Pit produced nothing new. The best birds were 4 American Avocets.
During my lunch break I spent some time at Timnath Reservoir and ended up seeing 47 species of birds. The hundreds of Franklin's Gulls flying around was amazing to watch. A single Canvasback continues and I heard a Ring-necked Pheasant has still been calling from the same location I have heard if from the last few times I was there. I saw 2 Clark's Grebes, 2 Greater Scaup, a Wood Duck, a large flock of Tree Swallows with a couple of Cliff Swallows, a single White-faced Ibis, and a Great Egret in its amazing breeding plummage.
                                               Yellow-headed Blackbird