Thursday, June 28, 2012

Salida and Steamboat Colorado, year birds and more

       About 1 week ago our family decided to go down to Salida, Colorado on the Arkansas River. Although the main purpose for the trip was not birding it turned out to have two life birds for me. At the first birding location, Centennial Cemetery (near Buena Vista), we located a nest of Lewis's Woodpeckers, life bird #484. After observing this odd and I guess unique woodpecker for 30 or so minutes we traveled on to Ice Pond.  Besides a few Yellow-headed Blackbirds and 3 more Lewis's Woodpeckers no interesting birds were found. So we drove back to our friend's house. As the trip went on no other birds were found, until the very last 3 hours of our trip. As some of you may know, my dad is a photographer, so on our way out we stopped at a local skatepark surrounded by a forest of Pinyon Pines. As my dad shot pictures of a skateboarder doing tricks out on a half pipe I wandered off into the forest in search of the unpredictable Pinyon Jay. When the game trail I walked on curved to the left a blue bird flew out in front of me giving a call almost unmistakable. I had found what I was looking for. A Pinyon Jay sat 10 feet in front of me giving its noisy call as a group of 5 or so joined him a few trees away, score #485. Two life birds in one day in Colorado!

Steamboat Springs
     At 10:00 A.M. June 26, 2012 my mom and I left for Steamboat Springs, CO (going the route north of the High Park Fire burn zone through Laramie, Wyoming).This three hour drive goes right through the heart of the shrub lands, and the Rocky Mountains through North Park. It is surrounded on both sides by either coniferous forest of the high mountains or grassy shrub lands of southern Wyoming and North Park. A small town named Walden lies right in the center of North Park and is surrounded by both large lakes and tall grass and sage brush. As a small diversion we visited one such lake, known as Lake John. As we drove the winding road out to the reservoir we passed an irrigation ditch with two large chicken-like birds sulking in the grass, Greater Sage-Grouse quickly shot out of my mouth and the car came screeching to a stop giving us a view of a male and female Greater Sage Grouse, score year bird #390! As the trip progressed no other birds where found except a very anticlimactic Hammond's Flycatcher and a Red-naped Sapsucker.

The solution to the photo quiz: Lazuli x Indigo Bunting hybrid

Thank's for reading
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins, CO

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Back from Maine with 26 Warblers!

After an amazing trip filled with memorable moments we traveled to: two countries, 10 states and 1 providence. We traveled over 2,000 miles and saw 198 birds. My Year list is now 389 and I am going to Arizona in late July for summer Mexican migrants. My life list soared to 485 and I am way over my schedule. I hope that birding is going well in the rest of the country for my followers and that one day you might be able to do a big year of your own! 
On another note earlier tonight I observed a group of 50+ Barn Swallows fly just over my house in a giant flock. All the birds flew in unison and gave Barn Swallow calls. It was also just before rain started to come down and thunder and lightning were going as they did this behavior. To me this seemed a little odd, any ideas? 

Thanks for reading!
Skyler Bol
Ft. Collins CO                               pics below from trip

Machias Seal Island, Canada
Atlantic Puffin (life bird)
Razorbill (also a life bird)
Black Skimmer, Cape May New Jersey
Forester's Tern (same location)
Also seen:
Black Bear
White-tailed Deer
Harbor Porpoise
Gray Seal
Harbor Seal