Monday, January 21, 2008
Lower Foothills 1-20
I traveled up to Allens Park in the morning to enjoy the Rosy-Finches at the Fawn Brook Inn. Ted Floyd, Bill Schmoker, Nathan Pieplow, John Breitsch, Pam Tarall and I enjoyed all three species of Rosy-Finch, including Interior and Hepburn's Gray-crowneds, at the Inn's feeders. About a dozen Pine Grosbeaks where at a feeder near the Olive Ridge Campground.
I got back down to Boulder fairly early, around 10. I took a quick walk down the street for a cup of coffee, enjoying a pair of Solitaires at the park down the street and noting Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees in the neighborhood along the way.
At about 1:30 I left on a bike ride. I headed down Baseline to Cherryvale and south from there. Along Cherryvale next to Baseline Red I had a dark Harlan's Hawk. There has been a strange hybrid goose hanging out at the corner of South Boulder Rd and Cherryvale Rd. It was way out and only the head and neck could be seen. It was off by itself, and I was a little worried that a pair of Coyotes that were walking around could have something to do with that. A beautiful rufous morph Western Red-tail was on the edge of this field, as well.
Further on down the road there is a little house with some bushes in the front yard that had a nice group of American Tree Sparrows and Dark-eyed Juncos. A Prairie Falcon soared overhead heading west. Two American Kestrels were also in the area.
My next stop was at the Mesa Trailhead. I was hoping for Scrub-Jay or some other bird in the riparian area along the creek. There wasn't really much going on, but I did pick up some common woodland species like WHITE-BREASTED NUTHATCH and HAIRY WOODPECKER. A light Ferruginous Hawk, a 1st year Bald Eagle and another Prairie Falcon soared overhead.
I continued on down towards Eldorado Springs. I soon spotted a WESTERN SCRUB-JAY perched beside the road. I stopped to watch it and an AMERICAN GOLDFINCH flew over. Three Scrubbies where in the area.
At the turn to the Eldorado Mountain Open Space, I stopped to look at a couple of Juncos. As I lifted my sunglasses of my face and picked up my bins to take a closer look at the Juncos, a pickup drove by and kicked up a 1 x 1 cm pebble that zinged straight into my right eye. My life as my right eye had seen it flashed before my mind's eye. I buckled over in agony, clutching my eye socket and murmuring quiet damnations at the pebble. I nervously opened my eyelid, expecting the worst. Lo and behold I could see! There was no eye juice gushing out of my retina! There was a big black spot in my vision, but it soon went away. I got on my bike and went to the trailhead.
The Eldorado Mountain Open Space is a large tract of land owned and managed by the City of Boulder. It encompasses large areas of foothills grasslands, ponderosa pine forest and cliff habitat. I work up here almost every day, so I have a good idea where to find many of the foothills bird species. I headed up the dirt road and into the ponderosas. Right on cue, a flock of PYGMY NUTHATCHES pipped up. Soon after, an adult GOLDEN EAGLE soared low overhead. Once I got to Spring Brook, I began to pish in a group of Pygmy and White-breasted Nuthatches and some Mountain Chickadees. A flock of RED CROSSBILLS began to vocalize nearby, possibly in response to the commotion.
I hiked up Spring Brook in hopes of finding Golden-crowned Kinglet. I searched for almost two hours for a Golden-crown, but to no avail. I was, however, rewarded with a RED-BREASTED NUTHATCH. I hiked up to the top of one of the hogbacks where I located a possible Wild Turkey roost sight. Several large pondos with large amounts of turkey droppings and feathers underneath. I was on my way to a turkey roost that I monitor frequently that was a ways to the south, so I didn't stick around to see if any birds would show up. I hiked across Bull Gulch and up to what we call the T19 roost. At 500, right on cue, a group of WILD TURKEY showed up.
As soon as I spotted the birds I turned right around and headed back the way I had come. It was about a mile hike back to an area of the property where I had had two Northern Saw-whet Owls vocalizing a few nights previous. But, as soon as I looked up I saw an ominous storm cloud to my north. Soon it was snowing and the clouds had covered the whole sky. As night fell, the temperature dropped quickly. I hoofed it over to the north side of the property, tooting occasionally along the way. But, no luck. Not even a Great Horned. The weather just wasn't conducive to owling. A wicked 9 mile ride back to my house and I was ready for a hot shower and some sleep. Nine more birds makes the total 72.