Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Leap Day!

So it's the Leap Day, an extra day this month for those of us who are behind on our month lists to go out and bird and get that one(or two, or three, or four...) extra bird(s) to bring our month lists up to our goal.  Well, I added American Coot to my month list yesterday but that still has left me one bird short of my 40 birds a month goal.  So I am taking advantage of this extra day to do two short stops on my way to work to fight against this wind a tease out my 40th bird for the month.

What birding are you all up to on this Leap Day?

Happy birding!

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Nemesis Birds

We all have them.  Those birds we spend hours looking for, going to suitable locations, memorizing every little identifying mark from field guides, and we still can't find the bird.  So we go looking again later.  Days, weeks, months, even years, and this bird still manages to elude us.  Yup, it's our nemesis bird.
For me, my big nemesis bird is the Lawrence's Goldfinch.  A beautiful looking bird(from what I can tell looking at my field guides) that calls California, Arizona and parts of Mexico home.  This has been my Most-Wanted-To-See bird ever since I started birding years ago.  Even though I live in Colorado, my grandparents on both sides live in California so I've made numerous trips to California over the years.  I have put in hours of birding out in Cali, and have spent time in locations that fit the description of the habitat that the Goldfinch is supposed to like. But I still haven't had any luck.  This July looks to be another opportunity for me to take a shot at finding this nemesis bird again, and hopefully I will have a little luck on my side this time, and I'll be ready with a camera.
This last month I finally tracked down my nemesis bird for Colorado, the Barrow's Goldeneye.  Even though it is a rare bird out here in Colorado, it is a regular visitor in winter.  Up until this year, I had spent hours birding open water in wintertime and hadn't been able to see it.  Sure I'd see a zillion Common Goldeneye(don't get me wrong, Common's are great birds and I enjoy seeing them every time I come across them) but never the one with the out-of-place white face spot.  Finally, though, while chasing down the Long-tailed Duck at Duck Lake in Denver City Park last January, this other nemesis bird finally showed itself, a nice tick on my Life List as #298.

What are/were your nemesis birds?  And how successful have you been in seeing them?

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Lists, lists and more lists

We birders like to keep lists, and I am no exception.  I keep multiple lists myself, including but not limited to:
My all important Life List(ABA area)
My World List(species I've seen outside the ABA area)
A Yard List
A State List
as well as month lists, year lists, birding trip lists and vacation lists.

My Life List currently stands at 299 species.

I just found the bird list that my dad kept from our 2010 Hawaii trip and now I was finally able to create my World List! With 27 new species that I saw on the trip, my world list stands at 326.  My 300th World Bird was the Common Waxbill.  We saw a flock of 30+ on Oahu.  Other excellent birds we saw included: White Tern, Hawaiian Coot, Red-tailed Tropicbird(one of my all time favorite birds!), Hawaiian Stilt, a very uncommon if not rare Christmas Shearwater and Melodious Laughingthrush.  We were able to bird both the islands of Oahu and Maui.  Unfortunately, as I was not big into bird photography at the time, I do not have any pictures to post from the trip.  I do however have great memories.

From the Backyard

Birding was decent yesterday, though I didn't get out and go anywhere, birding from my parents house and driving yielded some nice species include Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Black-capped Chickadee and more.

I was able to do some photography at my parents house.

A Blue Jay atop the feeder pole.

A pair of House Finches waiting for the Jay to leave.

A male House Finch happily atop the recently vacated feeder pole.

A different male sliding down into a not-so-comfortable looking position.

Sliding further down.  He flew off moments later.

I missed getting a picture of the Slate-colored Juncos that were feeding on the ground at my parents place, but oh well, more picture opportunities will present themselves.

Friday, February 24, 2012


I know I haven't blogged in a while, I haven't been able to get out to do much birding.  Lately it has been VERY windy, so I don't know how good the birding would be if I did go out anyways.  So needless to say I'm waiting for the wind to die down then I'll make a trip to Standley Lake again.
For the time being, I have been looking at upgrading my digital camera.  So far I have two cameras that I really like and now need to 1- save up for and 2- choose between.  These would be the Canon PowerShot SX40HS and the Sony Cybershot HX100v.
With the addition of a Horned Lark on the 22nd, my month list is now up to 38 species.  I have 5 days(thanks to the leap day!) to find two more species so that I can exceed my 40 bird a month goal.
I can't wait for March to come around, as the waterfowl and shorebird migration will begin in Colorado.  Waterfowl are my favorite group of birds(hence why I like March for birding so much).  I will be sad to see my Buffleheads go, though, but excited to see the likes of Green-winged, Blue-winged and Cinnamon Teal, Northern Pintail, Western, Clark's, Horned and Eared Grebes and more, all in brilliant breeding plumage.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Great Backyard Bird Count and Guided Bird Walk 2/18/12

The guided bird walk my dad and I led at Two Ponds NWR for the 2012 Great Backyard Bird Count went extremely well!  We had 23+ people show up and had a list of 19 total birds.  We birded from 7am-8:30am, with the bird walk going from 7:30-8:30.  The weather was cold but warmed up nicely and we had about 6-8 inches of snow on different parts of the trail.  The bird list has been submitted to the GBBC site.

Morning at the Refuge

My dad giving a short talk before the walk.

The sun rises on higher.

The weather started off at a homely 17 degrees F.  By the time the walk started the sun had risen to a point where it warmed us up a few degrees and was actually a nice day for birding.  

Two Northern Flickers. Two of 12 that we saw in total.  On the top is a Red-winged Blackbird. The Red-wings are already setting up and establishing territories in the Refuge.  We saw roughly 30 Red-wings.

A flock of Canada Geese flying over.

My group observing a Canada Goose flock. 

A shot across the Refuge at my dad's group. He lead his group along the first loop trail and I lead mine around the second loop trail.

A pair of paw prints from a raccoon.  

A male Red-winged Blackbird observing his territory.

A different male Red-winged a few yards away watching his territory.

The entrance trail.

We are hoping to do more guided walks like this at Two Ponds NWR throughout the year.  We saw 21 Common Mergansers on the walk as well, which is a new bird for the Two Ponds bird list.  

The bird list:
  1. Canada Goose
  2. Mallard
  3. Common Merganser
  4. Bald Eagle
  5. American Kestrel
  6. Rock Pigeon
  7. Mourning Dove
  8. Downy Woodpecker
  9. Northern Flicker
  10. Blue Jay
  11. Black-billed Magpie
  12. American Crow
  13. Black-capped Chickadee
  14. American Robin
  15. European Starling
  16. Dark-eyed Junco (heard)
  17. Red-winged Blackbird
  18. House Finch
  19. American Goldfinch (heard)

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Clark's Nutcracker

For being a common bird in the mountains of Colorado, I manage to see 1-3 of these per year, so I was very excited to see one today.  Bird 55 on my year list and 32 on my month list.  This was a bird I was not expecting to see at all, I was just climbing into my car, getting ready to leave for work when he flew into a tree a few hundred feet away.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Tis late

Still looking for a new year bird, after January you have to start looking for year birds, as you no longer can count each new month bird on the year list.

Hoping to add another month bird or two to the February list! At 31 birds and counting. Nine away from my goal of 40 each month.

Bird Spy

This is my upgrade for my blog.  I will be posting still on my websites blog but due to the limited blogging capabilities that blog has, this will be my main blog.  Three days till the bird walk! I am absolutely stoked and cannot wait to see how it goes!  Two Ponds NWR may not be world class birding, but it definitely deserves it's place amongst the Colorado birding locations.