Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Early Migrants 5/3 to 5/8 including 19 year birds

On 5/3 I walked the Big Thompson Bike Trail one of the first birds I heard when I got out of my car at the Softball Fields was a towhee. It didn't sound right for a Spotted Towhee, but sounded more like an Eastern Towhee. I only heard it twice and a search came up empty. Between Roosevelt and 1st Street I was finding there was a Yellow-rumped Warbler fallout. After I was getting closer to 1st Street I started hearing a bird sing. It was singing about once a minute. I eventually saw it and knew by both the song and the brief view that it was indeed a PALM WARBLER (216). I continued on, but when I came back I started looking for the Palm Warbler again and instead started hearing a LEAST FLYCATCHER (217) singing and I finally got looks at this bird also.
In the afternoon I decided to chase a Black-chinned Hummingbird that was found at Dixon Reservoir. I found a Yellow-rumped Warbler and Orange-crowned Warbler. I then found the Black-chinned Hummingbird (218) in the same place it was reported.
I then drove over to Kechter Pit to see Forster's Terns, Least Sandpipers, Spotted Sandpipers, and Semipalmated Plovers.
A stop at Duck Lake was very productive for shorebirds. I was able to find 1 Whimbrel, 1 Willet, 13 Long-billed Dowitchers (219), over 300 Wilson's Phalaropes, 3 Lesser Yellowlegs, 1 Greater Yellowlegs, 20 American Avocets, and several Killdeer.
We then stopped at a pond on Timberline Road between Carpenter Road and CR 30. Here we found a large flock of ibis. We quickly picked up on a Glossy Ibis (220). Shortly after most of those birds flew as another larger flock was flying in. We found yet another Glossy Ibis with this flock.

On 5/4 Cheri Orwig and I decided to do my 25 mile survey route I have been doing once month this year. We made a quick stop on the way at Cobb Lake. Here I heard a Common Yellowthroat (221) and on the way out we found a Western Kingbird and Eastern Kingbird (222) hanging out together. Between mile 8 and 9 we made a stop at a house with a good grove of trees with a canal. We had a lot of birds, but nothing rare. The most interesting being Green-tailed Towhee and Chipping Sparrows. On mile 16, which is at small marsh with willows and other trees around it underneath Indian Creek Reservoir we had our best stop. Here we had a Yellow Warbler (223), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Brown Thrasher, and Lincoln's Sparrow. I briefly saw a bird that looked like a Black-throated Gray Warber, but didn't see it again.
We then stopped at the reservoirs north of Wellington and the Martin's House, but the only interesting bird was a Brown Thrasher.
After I got off work at 9:30 PM I picked up Cade Cropper and we were going looking, or rather listening, for rails and bitterns. Our first stop was at Running Deer Natural Area in Fort Collins. We quickly got some Virginia Rails to call back to playback. It took a bit longer, but we eventually got a couple Sora (224) to start calling. A try for the bitterns didn't produce anything. We decided to try for the rare rails. Black Rail, no luck. We then played the King Rail tape and after about 10 seconds of silence we heard a response from a KING RAIL (225). We made stops at other marshes, but the only marsh birds we had was Virginia Rails, Wilson's Snipe, and Marsh Wrens.

On 5/6 I again took a walk along the Big Thompson Bike Trail. It was a fairly slow day, but I was able to see a Chimney Swift (226) flying over 1st Street. On my way to work I made stops at Duck Lake and Kechter Pit. Nothing interesting at Kechter Pit. Duck Lake on the other hand again had a lot of shorebirds. Those include 330 Wilson's Phalaropes, 12 RED-NECKED PHALAROPE (227), 20 American Avocets, 6 Killdeer, 2 Greater Yellowlegs, 2 Least Sandpipers, 2 Semipalmated Plovers, 2 Willets, 3 Marbled Godwits, and 3 Long-billed Dowitchers.

The only birding I did on 5/7 was a stop at Kechter Pit on my way to work. I found yet more shorebirds. There was a group of dowitchers that consisted of 14 Long-billed and 2 SHORT-BILLED (228). I also saw both regular species of kingbirds in the area.

On 5/8 I decided to get up and walk yet again the Big Thompson Bike Trail. This time things had changed. Walking from the Softball Fields on Highway 287 I was walking west. When I got to the first diversion dam I spotted a BLACK PHOEBE (229) flycatching over the river. About 200 meters west from there I stopped where I had the Palm Warbler on the 3rd. It was very birdy at this spot. I was able to find Yellow Warblers, Common Yellowthroat, and an interesting sounding flycatcher that I never identified. I then started hearing a BLACK-AND-WHITE WARBLER (230) singing. Right as I started trying to see it I got a call from Scott Rashid that a Hooded Warbler had just been found in Estes below the Lake Estes dam. So, I walked quickly to my car for the drive up.
I arrived below the Lake Estes dam about an hour later to see a bunch of birders standing out in the field looking across the river. I hurried across the field and immediately found the male HOODED WARBLER (231). I then started catching up with Scott and a few others while trying to locate a Magnolia Warbler they found just before I arrived. On my way over to them they found it, but quickly lost it and I lost out yet again. While we were scanning the area it was just seen I found a male Wilson's Warbler (232). Everyone left while I was still looking for it and I traveled up and down the river with no luck. Just before I got up to my car I refound the flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers. I got out my phone and used playback of the Magnolia Warbler song. After a minute of playing the tape the MAGNOLIA WARBLER (233) flew into view.
After I got back to Loveland I met up with Cade Cropper to walk along the Big Thompson River again looking for the species I found earlier. Unfortunately it was mid-afternoon on our walk and things were quiet. When we got between Wilson and Taft Cade found a Swainson's Thrush (234). We also saw the pair of nesting Eastern Phoebes. On the way back towards the car we saw a pair of Say's Phoebes making it a three phoebe day along the Big Thompson River which is probably the first time it has happened in Larimer County.

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