Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Summer Update

I have not posted an update in an eternity! The summer was...slow. Hot. I found it difficult to get motivated to go out on long bike rides in the 90 degree heat. Also, there just weren't many targets to go chase. There were a few that I should have gone to get, but didn't. Namely Orchard Oriole. Also, there were a few birds that I saw while not on my bike that I could have chased later to get but failed such as Sage Thrasher and Loggerhead Shrike. But, there's still hope for both of those although the train is certainly leaving the station as winter is creeping into the foothills. To skip to the good stuff, I'm up to 227 species and I've ridden 1640 miles.

And here's the summer run-down:

Indigo Bunting (#208)- My friend Scot Pipkin and I found a nice adult male a few hundred meters up the Flagstaff Mtn trail from the entrance to Gregory Canyon on July 18th. Steve Jones gave me the heads up on this guy. I found several frustrating hybrid Lazuli x Indigo Buntings this summer, so it was nice to have a pure bird.

Flammulated Owl (#209)- Scot, Kristin Brinkmann and I took a hike on the same evening of July 18th up Gregory Canyon in search of owls. We had plenty of moonlight to hike by, and after hearing a distant Flamm I called this guy in to within a few meters although we never got any looks other than a shadowy figure flying through the canopy.

Dusky Grouse (#210)- On a hike up to Green Mountain via Bear Canyon on July 20th, I heard a Dusky booming in quiet gully. Unfortunately I couldn't track him down although it vocalized several times. While conducting forest hawk surveys for the City I ran into several DUGR in July and August, seemingly the best time of year to find these guys. On this same hike I found a Milk Snake and a Black Witch Moth, two extremely exciting creatures by their own measure, although not countable.

Rufous Hummingbird (#211)- My first of the summer was the sound of an adult male's wing twirl during twilight on my way down Bear Canyon on the 20th.

Common Loon (#212)- A young bird had been hanging out at Baseline Reservoir for a few weeks (still there +1 as of a few days ago), and on August 16th I tracked it down.

Stilt Sandpiper (#213)- A real banner year for Stilt Sands in Boulder Co. On August 16th I saw a flock of 6 at Cottonwood Marsh. A few weeks later I found a flock of 10 at Cottonwood.

Calliope Hummingbird (#214)- As of August 27th, I hadn't found a Calliope and was getting nervous that they would all up and leave. I sent an email to John Vanderpoel to ask if I could take a peek at his hummingbird feeders. I went over on the afternoon of the 27th and soon picked up a female Calliope. There were a few Rufous and Broad-taileds zipping around, and a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak and Brewer's Sparrow were some extra goodies.

Red-necked Phalarope (#215)- A pair of these small shorebirds cooperated on September 2nd at Cottonwood Marsh.

Brown Pelican (#216)- Woah! A Brown Pelican in CO? Darn rare! Word got out on the listserve that an immature Brown Pelican was at Baseline Reservoir during the late morning of September 5th. It's a 2 minute bike ride from my office, so I cut out early for the day and headed over. Unfortunately, I chose to drive to work that day. Fortunately, the bird was gone!! I drove to several other spots including Valmont Res and Cottonwood Marsh. There was a dark blob with some American White Pelicans out in Valmont, but I couldn't tell if it was a goose or something better. When I returned to Baseline, viola, there was the Brown Pelican soaring over the lake. It headed off in the general direction of Valmont Res, so I made phone calls and headed home to get my bike. As I was leaving the house, I got a call from Bill Kaempfer saying that the bird was out at Valmont and was sleeping. I rode like an athlete and got there in record time. And as things usually go, I arrived to the sounds of "it just took off, sorry." Arg. But I did not give up hope and started scanning the horizon. It wasn't long before I picked up the gargantuan bird off to the north-east over Gunbarrel Hill. I even got it in the scope for a second as it cruised off towards Boulder Res.

Townsend's Warbler (#217)- A walk along the Bobolink Trail produced a single TOWA on September 6th.

Long-tailed Jaeger (#218)- September is great :-). Word got out that there was an immature LTJA at McIntosh Lake in north Boulder Co. on September 7th. I scooted over and it was sitting on the water not far from shore. These pelagic birds aught to be way out in the ocean, but a few stray straight south from their breeding grounds in the high arctic instead of heading down the coasts.

Sanderling (#219)- A few birds were scattered along the north shore of McIntosh on the 7th.

Sabine's Gull (#220)- On September 9th I rode out to Boulder Res to look for some reported Sabine's. They were easy enough to find with some help from Walter Szeliga, but soon after I headed home I got a flat tire. While out on the LTJA chase I had received another flat and had used my spare tube. This time I had not spare tube, so had a friend come pick me up. According to my rules, this meant the SAGU did not count. I went back two days later and the Sabine's Gulls were still around, and I didn't get any flats :-)

Common Tern (#221)- A bonus bird (2) on Sept 11th's visit to Boulder Res.

Clay-colored Sparrow (#222)- Plenty of Spizella sparrows were moving through the county in September, and on the 14th I found a Clay-colored for the list near the CU tennis courts in S. Boulder.

Snow Goose (#223)- I spotted a white goose one afternoon while playing frisbee golf at the S. Boulder Rec Center, but I had driven there and didn't bother to investigate closely to see if it was a Snow or just a domestic goose. Soon thereafter, birders reported a Snow Goose with the local flock of Canadas at the S. Boulder and E. Boulder Rec centers. On the afternoon of Sept. 17th I rode home via a route going past the E. Boulder Red Center and I picked up the beautiful adult Snow Goose. Strange bird being all by its lonesome, with no skeens of other white geese in sight (still! they should show up any day now...).

Clark's Grebe (#224)- One pair was out on Valmont Reservoir on Sept. 30th.

Brown Thrasher (#225)- While watching the Clark's Grebes, I got a call from Walter Szeliga that there was a BRTH along Boulder Creek off of 61st. I bolted over and we were able to track it down as the sun was setting.

Red Phalarope (#226)- Another goodie! This is another bird (like the Jaeger and Sabine's Gulls) that aught to be far out to sea. I had headed out to Cottonwood Marsh on Oct. 5th in search of Pectoral Sandpipers. One of the first shorebirds I put the scope on was a basic plumaged adult Red Phalarope! A real mega for Boulder Co., and CO.

Pectoral Sandpiper (#227)- There they were out in Cottonwood, just as I had hoped.

Whew! I missed a few good birds like Dunlin and Black-bellied Plover this past weekend since I was out of town. If I'm going to get to 250, I'm going to have to stop living and get back to birding! I take the GRE in a few days and once that's out of my way I hope to be back out enjoying fall birding with vigor.

Birds: 227
Miles by bike: 1640