Sunday, January 29, 2012

A great day in Colorado

Today we birded from 7:30 am to 6:00 pm, mainly in Central Colorado. We started our day off with a local spot here in Ft. Collins where we spotted the first bird which turned out to be a Cooper's Hawk. Already a new bird at the first stop of the day got our hopes up for the next stop to come: Barr search of the Snowy Owl for the 3rd time. On the drive down we saw a flock of geese and a surprising 3 or 4 Snow Geese. We could not get exactly how many there were while birding at 75 miles per hour but we were pretty sure they were Snows.

Pretty much the whole summary of the Snowy Owl chase was "no results" but we did see two Prairie Falcons and also two Long-eared Owls at the entrance to Barr Lake State Park. Neither were new but amazing that we saw not just one but actually two of each! As we drifted to our next location, Red Rocks Trading Post we got slightly detoured by a lead about a Long-tailed Duck at Denver City Park Lake. We did not find the duck, but we did find as equally rare Ross's looking Blue Phase Goose, which was definitely new. Moving on we headed to Red Rocks State Park to see if we could find the rumored Golden-crowned Sparrow who has been lurking in the scrub behind the feeders at the Trading Post. We arrived and off the bat got one new bird, a bright adult Spotted Towhee.

Spotted Towhee
 Along with this little beauty we found all subspecies of juncos:
Cassiar's, White-winged, Gray-headed (the one below), Oregon, Slate-colored and Pink-sided.

Gray Headed subspecies of Dark Eyed Junco

 As we started to walk away a birder said is that a Juv. White-crowned? We quickly ran back to prove that this bird (below) truly was a Golden-crowned Sparrow.

Golden Crowned Sparrow
These birds brought our end of the day total to 55 birds. It was a great day of birding.
Good Luck birding to all and having fun doing it.
Skyler Bol

Sunday, January 22, 2012

A day for raptors

Today I took my mom down to Cattail Pond where we saw the Trumpeter Swan and Canvasback (her favorite duck) the day before. As expected both birds were there except this time there were more Canvasback. Since we were already in Loveland we decided to go birding around Loveland. We moved on to Lake Loveland where we saw a few coots, Common Mergansers, and 2 Herring Gulls. Despite it being midday we headed to a new location shown to me by Nick Komar, it was called Boyd Lake. The only thing on the lake, half frozen, were Lesser Canadian Geese, Cackling Geese, 2 Bald Eagles, and surprisingly large white caps. As we were diving up the highway past a farm a flock of about 300 Starlings buzzed away from a pasture of cows. As I scanned the area around for a raptor a small bird dove and landed on a post. As the car sped up 3 times as fast as we were going the bird slowly appeared before our eyes until this laid out my window:

 An Adult Male Prairie Falcon trying to sit out the windy prairie weather and also get a Starling lunch.
 also on our drive up we spotted aNorthern Harrier which puts me at exactly 82 birds so far.  Down below is the Trumpeter Swan that we got pictures of at Cattail Pond. Both birds were very memorable birds so far in my Junior Big Year.

Today my dad got home from a photo tour he led in Yellowstone National Park, we got our traveling schedule under control and I have a rough estimate of what trips we will be doing and when. If anybody knows where to get any super hard birds in these places please let me know via comment or E-mail.
Mid March - California
Mid to early June - Arizona, Texas
July - Alaska
Late December - Kansas/Missouri  (Kansas City, or on the border)
 Good Luck birding and having fun outside!

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Birding today and this week

Today I met up with local birders Cole Wild (who is doing a Larimer County big year) and also Nick Komar. Both of these birders are some of the best birders I know so we all tried to find some harder birds. We started at Rist Canyon where we tried for Northern Pygmy-Owl but with no luck. Instead we got a Red Crossbill at the top of the canyon which was a great bird. Other mentionable birds were Hairy Woodpecker and Harlan's Hawk. We then dropped off Cole and me and Nick decided to go to Cattail Pond were a Trumpeter Swan had been seen lately with other new ducks for my year list. As we got there a long necked white bird rose from dabbling underwater, score, we got the swan. The other ducks we needed to also made quite an apearance with 67 Redeads, 2 Hooded Mergansers, and 20 Canvasback. We also saw an unexpected Bald Eagle which was also new. After this trip we headed to the CSU Environmental Learning Center were we got a look at 2 beautiful Wood Ducks hiding in a Russian Olive Tree by a warm water stream. We then moved on to a local hot spot called Sharp Point Drive Pond. Here is a good place to look for rare geese (like snow and ross's), but due to the 7 Bald Eagles surrounding the lake most of the geese we saw were flying. We did take a little trail to a cow pasture were Nick pointed out a large flock of Brewer's Blackbirds and said that some times you will find a Rusty in with them. That was pretty much my whole day of birding today and with the Western Meadowlark I got earlier this week that puts me at 79 birds so far. Good luck birding to all and hope you have fun doing it.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

New birds of this week

This week for me has supprisingly been a very birdy week with multiple new birds. No pictures but a few rarities. This week I went birding once all around Ft. Collins on Friday, and then once again today doing a new trail called Grey Rock trail and it's about 10 miles long full of great varying habitat. The new birds of this week are:
Around Ft. Collins: Merlin, Virginia Rail, Norhtern Pintail, and Sharp-shinned Hawk.
On Grey Rock Trail: Hairy Woodpecker, American Three-toed Wooodpecker, Mountain Bluebird, American Dipper, Clark's Nutcracker, Brown-capped Rosy-Finch at the summit of Grey Rock (probably lost)

With these birds I am at 70 for the year, I am also posting all of my lists to Ebird. If you do not know about this site it is wonderful because you can report all your birds that you see when you go birding and these obserations go to Cornell to tell them about bird obsevaton. So anyway I hope everyone has great birding and has a good time enjoying birding.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The first owl of the year

Today I was walking home from school and my dad's car was on. He quickly rushed out with my binos and we rushed into the car. As we drove north my dad gave me the run down of the bird we were chasing ... The rare and elusive Long-eared Owl. This bird was found by a local Ft. Collins birder named Brad Biggerstaf. The bird was closer to Wellington than Ft. Collins though. Once we reached the grove of Russian Olive Trees we started to scan the grove, as we moved farther and farther into the grove, a Red-tailed Hawk screeched out and the wind blew, but no owl ... I scanned the trees and a large raptor with an odd shaped head ... I knew it couldn't possibley be the owl, so I passed it off as a Red-tail, then from 30 ft away on the edge of the grove and a field my dad yelled, "thats the OWL!" and I rushed through the brush so elegantly that I cut my leg and bonked my head on a limb. But I got the owl flying by, at that moment I realized the bird I saw (and maybe spooked) was the Long-eared Owl. Score! A new year bird and number 405 for my life list.

Thanks to Brad for both the West Indies Field Guide and the great new year bird and also lifer.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

The trip south was worth while

Yesterday we got back from the Virgin Islands at 11:00 PM, although very tired I made a trip list for the Virgin Islands. Most of the stuff there was new for me (even though I couldn't count it on my year list). I got 23 new life birds and the rarities or better birds we got there were:

Pomerane Jaeger, Wilson's Snipe, Ruddy Duck, Bridled Quail-Dove, Clapper Rail, Sora, Solitary Sandpiper, Yellow-headed Parrot, Smooth-billed Ani, and many more. We also got to see some cool fish, 2 Green Sea Turtles, and 2 Nurse Sharks. We tried for the Tropic birds twice but with no luck. We did try to get some pictures but with out a big lens this is what we got.
Pearly Eyed Thrasher

Brown Booby
Zenaida Dove

Durring our 4 hour delay in Georgia I got 1 new bird that was not the rarest bird ever (even out here in Colorado), it was one singular Common Grackle perched on top of a parking garage near by a tree. This leaves me with 55 birds. Also we found a house Sparrow at 11:30 PM in the Denver airport calling out from a fake tree, not something you see every day.

Monday, January 2, 2012

An early arrival on January 2

As I sat at home waiting for my parents to get back from the gym the door swung open and my mom rushed inside and said," get your binoculars we got a good bird." I quickly rushed outside in my bare feet and hopped into the car were my dad sat. We rushed down the street and my mom had a 600mm ready to capture it on camera. The car screeched to a stop. In the tree in front of me was .... "a Robin?" I said. "No, the bird farther down the tree." rang from the front seat. I scanned down the tree with my binoculars and low and behold eating crab apple berries was this

An Adult Male Bullock's Oriole in the middle of winter!

This was the bird that sat in the tree it was just like that through the binoculars. The bird was very calm and sat in the tree still after we left. What a beautiful bird.

Trip out of country!

Today at 8:00 pm we will leave for the Virgin Islnds in the Carribean. These birds I can not count on my year list so the 6 days we will be there I will be looking for cool birds but I can't count them. We will be in Atlanta for 4 hours and we might go outside, these birds could be vital because we won't go to the south for the rest of the year.

Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins, CO

Sunday, January 1, 2012

the first day with 54 species!

Today was a truly amazing day filled with all sorts of birds and birding firsts for me. This morning I got up at 7:00 and stepped outside to hear the first bird of the day, an American Robin called out its in flight call. The first bird of the day is cheery and numerous, always able to get and find what it needs (most of the time it's berries). This is what I will try to shape my big year off of ..... the Year of the Robin.

Our first stop of the day was a local pond called the Drake Substation.  Here the most notable thing was  4 Ring-necked Ducks, along with some Goldeneye and a Common Merganser.

After that we headed to the local cemetery, here we got both nuthatches, Mountain and Black-capped Chickadees, Pine Siskin, and Cedar Waxwings, nothing too mentionable. At this time we had about 25 birds. So we kept on going.

The next stop was Rist Canyon home of the elusive Pygmy-Owl (which we did not get). This was the place were we got the most surprises, 3 Canyon Wrens were the biggest but we also got: Golden Eagle, Song Sparrow, Stellar's Jay, 2 Pygmy Nuthatches, and 1 Western Scrub-Jay.

Still not out of steam we headed onward to Sharp Point ponds, home of the rare geese. As soon as we pulled in we could almost not hear ourselves talking because of the Cackling and Canada Goose choir. besides that we did not find anything good except some Green-winged Teal and as I looked at the teal through my Vortex binoculars I hear my mom say "I see a weird goose." I walked over to the spotting scope and low and behold a Ross's x Cackling Goose hybrid was in the scope. We quickly showed it to some other birders who had passed over it and went to yet again the next place, Environmental Learning Center.

My mom/dads 600mm lens clicked 1,2..3...4,5 as she took pictures of a Wilson's Snipe 15 ft away, being as obvious as I have ever seen one be. He moved to the left, stuck his bill into the creek, and then repeated. Here is what we got.

Wilson's Snipe

 Besides this a beautiful Green-winged Teal preened himself, we also got him.

Green-winged Teal

Besides both of these we got a Kingfisher, Coot, Gadwall, and a Shoveler at ELC.
The next stop, and the last for the afternoon was at Timnath Reservoir, surrounding fields and marshes. Highlight birds here were Tree Sparrow, a Morning Dove Roost, 45 Horned Larks, and this little beauty.

White Crowned Sparrow
That was the end for the afternoon so after a lunch and some relaxation we headed out to Lake Loveland in search of rare gulls. Luckily when we got down there the best person I know for gulls (Nick Komar) was there. As soon as he gave us a run down of all the gulls I quickly picked out the Glaucous and Herring Gulls. Then,  mom found a Bufflehead and dad picked out a Lesser Black-backed Gull. The one that was hard though was the Thayer's but eventually we found one. As the sky got dark we decided to head back and to wrap up my first day of my big year. What a day!

Skyler Bol
Fort Collins, Co