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.

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