Sunday, March 30, 2008

Walden Ponds, 3/30

More and more birds are arriving. I had several new birds for the season, and for my BGBY, today. After waking up to a dusting of snow, I thought my hopes for a ride out to Walden Ponds were destroyed. But by lunch time the sun was peeking out and the roads were dry, so I saddled up. I took a route that followed some urban trails (Skunk Creek and Boulder Creek Paths) to Valmont Rd, then east to 75th St. Near the Foothills Parkway underpass, I had my first BGBY bronze COMMON GRACKLE (#84). I went up to the bridge on 75th that crosses Boulder Creek. My friend Ben and I discovered a pair of American Dippers building a nest here last week. Today, the male was sitting on a rock singing away under the bridge.
As soon as I arrived at Cottonwood Marsh, I picked out a few new birds including GREEN-WINGED TEAL(#85), CINNAMON TEAL (#86) and a GREATER YELLOWLEGS (#87). After repositioning for better lighting, I spotted two male BLUE-WINGED TEAL (#88) as well. No snipe or Marsh Wrens were evident, though, so I took a walk out around the perimeter of the ponds. A few small groups of TREE SWALLOWS (#89) were hunting over the ponds and Boulder Creek. When trying to get a better look at a strange dark-morph Red-tailed Hawk, I discovered a series of trails that led down to the creek on the west side of the property. Some great riparian habitat back there that should be productive as spring progresses. I found these two primaries from an intergrade Red-shafted x Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker. I was thrilled to find 2 male, 1 female WOOD DUCK (#90) hiding back there. I was alerted to the presence of a day-roosting Great Horned Owl by a few noisy Black-capped Chickadees. 4 TURKEY VULTURES (#91) floated overhead.
When I arrived back at Cottonwood Marsh, there was a large flock of swallows feeding low over the water. I stared at the flock for a few minutes and was able to pick out 2 CLIFF SWALLOWS (#92) from about 70 Trees. A single WILSON'S SNIPE (#93) was sitting right where it was supposed to be at the edge of the cattails. Another check of the swallows produced a BARN SWALLOW (#94), and the local MARSH WREN (#95) began to chatter near the boardwalk.
Although the sun had come out for about two warm hours, by 5:30 the cold clouds had rolled back in and I packed it up and headed home. I made a quick stop at Legion Park to see the OSPREY (#96) sitting on its nest. An added bonus was a flock of 20 Bohemian Waxwings sitting in a willow tree with fresh spring leaves on the side of Baseline Rd. A healthy 13 new birds!

66th Street Arrivals

March 25th was a gorgeous day, so I took advantage of the fair weather and rode out to 66th Street off of Marshall Road after work. A few new arrivals for the spring have become abundant in the last two weeks including Western Meadowlarks, Killdeer and Mountain Bluebird. These were my targets as I headed out from the office. About a mile down the road I had my first singing WESTERN MEADOWLARK (#81) on Cherryvale Rd. It wasn't long after I had turned onto 66th St that I heard an agitated KILLDEER (#82) near a small cattail marsh and Black-tailed Prairie Dog colony. I spotted a pair scurrying around the Prairie Dog burrows. Chorus Frogs have begun to trill. There was a group of 5 MOUNTAIN BLUEBIRDS (#83) hunting in the field to the west of the road. An adult Red-tailed Hawk showing characteristics of a Fuertes' Red-tail has been hanging out on the utility poles here. It's got a very pale head, with brown being limited to the auriculars, malar area, and the back of the crown and nape. The belly only has a couple, barely visible, light tan stripes. The tail is completely red, with no black band. A neat bird on the pale extreme.

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Late Winter Doldrums

Well it's been quite a while since I posted, primarily because it's been quite a while since I found a new species. The last several weekends have been filled with several birding trips around CO, a trip to SD to unsuccessfully chase the Ivory Gull in Pierre, and a 6-day trip to CA. Today I finally added a new species to my BGBY list, a cooperative AMERICAN DIPPER (#80) in Boulder Creek underneath the Foothills Parkway. Ted Floyd reported this bird at this spot on March 3, and apparently it hasn't moved since :-)