October 29, 2010

Summer Recollections - Part 1

Prairie Wanderings

June 18, 2010 – Day 3 of Neil Gilbert's Visit

“Get out quick!” As soon as the car doors swung open, an intense cacophony assaulted our ears . . . the gut-wrenching screeches of Yellow-headed Blackbirds, the comparatively pleasant con-cer-ees! of Red-winged Blackbirds, the dull sub-woofer like booms of American Bitterns, the musically eclectic vocalizations of Great-tailed Grackles, busy and perky territorial songs of Marsh Wrens, and the diminutive witchity-witchity-witch calls of Common Yellowthroats. Oh yeah, and snap, snap – our camera shutters. Lower Latham Reservoir has always been one of my favorite stops for marsh birds in Colorado, and the breeding shorebirds aren’t that shabby either! It is one of the not-too-common Colorado breeding locations for both Black-necked Stilt and Wilson’s Phalarope. Virginia Rails and Sora are also pretty easy to find here, both visually and audibly, and we weren’t let down.

Black-necked Stilt - by Renee Haip

Juvenile Red-winged Blackbird - by Joel Such

White-faced Ibis in Flight - by Joel Such

Male Wilson's Phalarope - by Joel Such

Black-necked Stilt - by Joel Such

Throughout the rest of the day, we continued meandering east to Jackson Reservoir State Park in Morgan County, where we ate lunch and briefly birded before heading north to Pawnee Buttes for a late afternoon hike. En route, however, we stopped frequently to gawk at the hordes of breeding sparrows, among them Grasshopper Sparrows, Cassin’s Sparrows, Lark Buntings, and the prize, McCown’s Longspurs! After our hike, we spent the remaining daylight hours driving random county roads to see what we could find. We picked up the remaining common sparrows (except the much-desired Chestnut-collared Longspur), and we also discovered a Dickcissel and a couple families of Burrowing Owls!

Colony of Cliff Swallows over the South Platte River - by Marcel Such

Cliff Swallow in Flight - by Joel Such

Dilapidated Farmhouse on the Pawnee - by Renee Haip

Pronghorn - by Marcel Such

McCown's Longspur! - by Marcel Such

Lips Bluff (with wash in foreground) near Pawnee Buttes
by Renee Haip

by Renee Haip

Exploring the dry wash near Lips Bluff
by Renee Haip

Joel attempting to catch some
puddling Lance-tipped Darners (dragonfly)
by Renee Haip

Brown Thrasher - by Renee Haip

Wandering towards Pawnee Buttes - by Renee Haip

Greater Short-horned Lizard - by Renee Haip

Neil photographing the above lizard - by Renee Haip

Dickcissel on random county road - by Joel Such

Common Nighthawk at Murphy's Pasture - by Marcel Such

Common Nighthawk - by Marcel Such

Brewer's Sparrow (with Common Nighthawk in background)
by Marcel Such

Extremely Rutted CR 96 through the legendary Murphy's Pasture
by Joel Such

A Burrowing Owl to Close Out a Fabulous Day - by Marcel Such

October 25, 2010

Catching Up...

It has been a long time since our last post in May! Since then, we enjoyed a pleasant, entirely birdy summer in Colorado punctuated by schoolwork, and a busy fall of bird banding, running, writing projects, and yes, more schoolwork.

In June, one of my (Marcel’s) friends from the Great Texas Birding Classic, Neil Gilbert of California, came out and stayed with us for a couple of weeks before we (Neil and I) both went down the American Birding Associations’ Camp Colorado in Woodland Park, near Colorado Springs. During his visit, we (Neil, Joel, Mom, and myself) birded all throughout northern Colorado, from the snowy heights of Trail Ridge Road in Rocky Mountain National Park, down to the intense heat of mid-summer at the Pawnee National Grassland, and almost everywhere in between.

In the next few posts, I’ll try my best to recap the highlights of summer and the excitement of fall migration in Colorado, as we prep for the fast approaching winter months and the accompanying shifts in birding life!

Birding with Neil Gilbert at Walden Ponds, Boulder County