SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Sunday, October 30, 2005

Raritie that visited Canon City this fall

Walks both yesterday and today at the Canon City Riverwalk turned up no additional species so I will focus on a raritie that visited last month--an immature Yellow-crowned Night-Heron. I found the Yellow-crowned Night-Heron pictured here at 7:30 pm on August 17 at a small wetland along the Arkansas River only about 80-90 feet off the Canon City Riverwalk. I took these photos with my 10 power Olympus Z2100 digital camera when the bird was on my side of the river and only about 40-50 feet away. The bird was not flying away in the photo with its wing's outspread, it did this wing-stretching like behavior in the middle of a grooming session.

When I first saw the bird, it was bent over with it's head inside some reeds. With a rear view, at first I thought it was a Green Heron. Though we usually have 2+ Green Herons in areas along the Canon City Riverwalk, this would be a location in which I had not seen them previously. Then the bird raised its head and it became clear this was not a Green Heron.

Yellow-crowned Night-Herons are only rarely seen in eastern Colorado, usually only a few birds each year. They are considered to be either migrants or post-breeding vagrants. I continued to see this bird several times each week until September 16. I went out of town the next day and could not refind the bird after I returned and began looking again on September 23. However, another local birder with whom I had shared this sighting earlier did see the Night-Heron a last time on September 18.
On several occasions I watched this bird for around a half hour at a time. When I watched it foraging, it had an excellent prey catching rate around 80%+. I observed it catch and swallow a reddish colored crawdad that appeared to be 4-6 inches across--it certainly looked like a very large meal for this bird that gulped a lot as it swallowed it.

believe this bird, far out of its range, was able to stay over a month due to the fact it was feeding well and not disturbed much. There was not much fishing nearby due to low water levels, the area on the other side of the river is private property and didn't have a lot of use while the bird was around. There were no birders tromping through the wetland in order to flush it out so they could see it and I was very careful to not disturb the bird when it was nearby.



Saturday, October 29, 2005

Finding a "good bird"

Recently a friend told me he had seen a certain warbler that is very rare to Colorado. I congratulated him and said, "That's a real good bird." I got to thinking about that comment. Clearly I repeated what I had been taught, that rare vagrants are good birds.

I certainly enjoy seeing a rare vagrant bird. However, I believe that native bird species are more important than vagrants from a conservation perspective. I suspect that many conservation-birders have also learned to call vagrants "good bird" instead of native birds.



Thursday, October 27, 2005

Birding Pueblo Valco Ponds area 10-27-05

After I got out of a meeting in Pueblo this afternoon, I did a little birding a very good spot near the Pueblo Valco Ponds area west of the parking lot. This area is a migrant trap though I didn't find any rarities this afternoon. In a big cottonwood tree above the Arkansas River was an Osprey that hasn't migrated south yet. On one of the fishery ponds I saw the following: several Gadwall,several American Wigeon, a few teal species, more than a dozen Bufflehead, several Mallards and 1 female Hooded Merganser. There were a number of White-crowned and Song Sparrows in the rabbitbrush and good areas of other shrubs. There was also a nice small flock of 8-10 Bushtits.


Wednesday, October 26, 2005

Recent upper Arkansas River watershed birding

I didn't get a chance to do any birding today so will take the opportunity to discuss some birding opportunities in the upper Arkansas Valley in Chaffee County. I did some of this higher elevation birding on Oct 15 with the following results (common generalist birds like Robins excluded):

From Mt Princeton Hot Springs to Buenva Vista (elevation around 8,000 feet)with both pinyon-juniper, mixed pine (ponderosa and pinyon) and ponderosa pine habitats, I saw the following :

Scrub and Stellar's Jays; Mountain Chickadee; Pygmy (flocks of 5+) and White-breasted Nuthatch; Mountain Bluebirds and requisite Townsend's Solitairs.

In Buena Vista, a small town at 8,000 feet elevation, with a small lake and mixed wooded semi-urban habitat produced the following:

--Lewis' Woodpecker-2+ birds
--Hairy Woodpecker-1
--Pinyon Jay-flock of 35-40 with great close looks of them feasting on pinyon nuts (and great to see a reasonable size flock as this is a species of special concern)

Cottonwood Lake area (elevation around 9,600 feet)netted the following:

--Golden-crowned Kinglets-small flock of 4-6 beauties
--Brown Creepers-2 (1 with the kinglets)
--Lincoln's Sparrow-1 in marshy area (a little late at this elevation)
--California Gull-1 at Rainbow Lake (around 9,600 feet)
--Gray Jays-2+ just under 10,000 feet near Cottonwood Pass

Back down in Salida at only 7,000 feet at Sand Lake (which has been drained):

--Wilson's Snipe-7-8 enjoying the mud in the now drained lake

There is great birding in all parts of the Arkansas River wateshed.



Tuesday, October 25, 2005

Canon City Riverwalk10-25-05

Another beautiful autumn afternoon. I couldn't go birding until even later today, 4:30 so not as many birds out. The only additional species I saw today was Common Merganser. There were 2 females loafing in the Arkansas River. Seems a little early to see this species here.

Earlier today I found scat from a small bear in my yard (I live about 600 feet from the Canon City Riverwalk, though almost a half mile from the Arkansas River at this point. My neighbor has a big apple tree, loaded with fruit so suspect that is what the bear was after.


Monday, October 24, 2005

Canon City Riverwalk10-24-05

I did some late afternoon birding along the Canon City Riverwalk today. It was beautiful fall afternoon. Fall is such a peaceful season. Nothing unusual but just some nice common to fairly common birds:
Cooper's Hawk-1 adult flying overhead
Spotted Sandpipers-2 along the Arkansas River adjacent to the trail
Mourning Doves-several
Belted Kingfisher-at least one usually present here in all seasons
Northern Flickers-several
Black-capped Chickadee-1 in a mixed flock
Mountain Chickadee-1 in the mixed flock
Brown Creeper-1 in mixed flock and another further down the trail, both calling
American Dipper-1 and it was singing (unusual to sing this time of year)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet-1+ in the mixed flock
White-crowned Sparrows--several seen (eating rabbitbrush seed like the one in photo)
Dark-eyed Juncos-several pink-sided
European Starling-hard to get away from

Also stopped at a local private pond with adjacent wetland:
Wood Ducks-about a dozen with lots of Am Coots and several Canada Geese
Great-tailed Grackles--heard at least one calling from the wetland area



Sunday, October 23, 2005

Welcome to my new site

Welcome to my new site. I have learned a few things since I began blogging at my old site and hope this result in improvements here.

What's happening now during this "shoulder" season for birding in Colorado. Well, I saw the season's first pair of American Dippers in the Arkansas River along the Canon City Riverwalk (photo I took of one 2 years ago along this Riverwalk). This species is seen fairly commonly along the Canon City Riverwalk, from Tunnel Drive Trail at the west end of Canon City, and areas further upriver from Canon City as well as other mid- to high elevation locations in SE Colorado.

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