July 20, 2009

A Two Lifer Day (aka Our Mom's Belated Birthday Hike)

Yesterday morning we hiked to Ouzel Falls in Wild Basin, Rocky Mountain National Park.  Black Swifts nest behind this waterfall.  Besides the swift, our two other "target" species for the day were Golden-crowned Kinglet, which we should have seen long ago, and American Three-toed Woodpecker, which is making a comeback due to all the trees infested with Pine Beetle.

We scored on Golden-crowned Kinglets right away (lifer #1)!  There were two of them calling to each other near Copeland Falls.  We also got a quick glimpse of a Warbling Vireo where the kinglets were.  At Calypso Cascades we first heard, then saw, four Brown Creepers “creeping” up trees while foraging right along the side of the trail.

Brown Creeper - by Joel Such

At the old burn zone we saw a MacGillivray’s Warbler pair in some young Aspens and a Hermit Thrush singing in the top of a tall snag.  Other Hermit Thrushes were singing in the distance.  At Ouzel Falls there was a very tame Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel that was begging for handouts from other hikers and having much success.  Of course, we ourselves didn't share with the ground squirrel.  Not only is it illegal to feed wildlife in the park, we personally wanted to consume every morsel of our own snacks!  

Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel - by Joel Such 

Below Ouzel Falls by the bridge we spent quite a long time observing a busy adult American Dipper (or Water Ouzel) actively feeding three fledglings.  There were a lot of people out on the trail today, but few seem to notice these amazing little birds dipping and diving into swift moving currents.

American Dippers (adult on left, fledgling on right) -
by Marcel Such

Fledgling American Dipper - by Marcel Such

Fledgling American Dipper - by Marcel Such

Fledgling American Dipper Begging - by Joel Such

Fledgling American Dipper - by Joel Such

Fledgling American Dipper - by Joel Such

Traveling beyond Ouzel Falls, we discovered that there was a side trail that would take us into different territory for a portion of our return trip.  It was starting to threaten rain, so we had to hustle back down the remaining three miles of trail.  On the way down, Joel spotted two Black Swifts “swiftly” flying by (lifer #2).  Back on the main trail, we found a flock of “Gray-headed” Dark-eyed Juncos, which is our only local breeding subspecies of Dark-eyed Junco.  There were actually more streaky juveniles than there were un-streaked adults.  Marcel also found another adult dipper as we neared the trailhead, this one feeding just one fledgling.  When we neared the parking lot, the sun emerged again.  It was a nice two-lifer day with some extra entertainment thanks to the creepers and dippers!

And oh . . . Happy Birthday, Mom!


Laurie said...

Nice summary and great pics. Love the ground squirrel - what a cutie. It's too bad people don't know better when the feed these little guys.

Ali Iyoob said...

Congrats on the lifers! I haven't got on e in so long, but will probably get 7-10 this weekend in the Appalachian Mountains.

Gail Frankfort said...

WOW! Such beautifully sharp pictures. I especially like the Dipper Begging.

Anonymous said...

Joel and Marcel,
We are Tom and Lynn Headley, birders from Albuquerque. We met you and your mother on the trail to Ouzel Falls on Friday, July 24. We mentioned a mystery bird we had seen and you suggested it might be a golden-crowned kinglet. After we checked the bird guide, your suggestion was correct. Good job! Also, you and I spotted a Copper butterfly and I had told you it was a Dorcas Copper, but that would be way out of range. Turns out it was a Purplish Copper. Wanted to set the record straight, although you may have already figured it out. Keep up the good birding work!
Tom Headley

Jann said...

I love seeing your dipper photos, very nice! We have the dipper (and that pine beetle unfortunately) in the Black Hills, but I haven't captured one w/ the camera yet. Well done post! Love the fat cheeks of the chipmunk too.

gifts to pakistan said...

Good effort.nice pictures.Love the fat cheeks.