Thursday, March 29, 2012

Great Day of Birding

Today was an absolutely beautiful day to go birding! With temps in the upper 60's and no wind, things were a perfect recipe for a great day.  I started off the day at Baseline Reservoir in Boulder, scoping the lake with my dad.  We picked up Hooded Mergansers for the month list, as well as I got Great Blue Heron and Eared Grebe for my year list, moving me up to 65 on the year and 50 on the month.  The lake was otherwise fairly quiet so I moved on to Walden Ponds(yes, again, can you tell this is my favorite place to bird??).  At Walden I immediately picked up Common Grackle and Killdeer for the year and added many waterfowl to my day.  A couple Canvasbacks were still hanging around, as well as a handful of Bufflehead.  American Coot and American Wigeon dominated the waterfowl scene though, as they have the last couple times I've been to Walden.  A Pied-billed Grebe and some Northern Shovelers added a little flavor to the waterfowl buffet.  With the boardwalk still under construction(though it appears to be about halfway finished), I headed down the back trail to see what the rest of Walden and the back ponds of Sawhill had to offer.
After a short scan of Duck Lake, I noticed a large raptor heading my way and was ecstatic to discover it to be an Osprey! It flew off over to the Sawhill side and I was in hot pursuit.  After a few yards, though, the calls of some American Goldfinches stopped me in my tracks and I paused to admire these beautiful birds.  After a  brief pause in my chase, I was back after the Osprey.  I soon spotted it and another flying over one of the Sawhill ponds.  About halfway to the pond I suddenly felt all the weight disappear from around my neck, and I looked down just in time to see my binocs hit the trail.  Somehow the strap came undone but no damage was done.  I picked them up and in no time flat came to the edge of the pond and was viewing two outstanding raptors.  I was able to get some decent pictures and some good video, and at one point one of the Osprey flew over me by only 20-ish feet, one of my all time favorite moments of birding.   They continued to circle about, though back on the Walden side, for about 5 minutes before heading off.  I then decided to head back to Cottonwood Marsh and see if I couldn't tease out some different waterfowl.  Along the trail back, a flock of American Goldfinches flew in affording great views.  I paused to watch some Red-winged Blackbirds in a tree and noticed one to be crawling headfirst down a branch(not kidding), which surprised me as I never thought they would be able to pull off such a feet.  A Song Sparrow soon came hopping through the reeds just a few feet in front of me, offering up the best views I've ever seen of this bird.  Scanning the marsh, my heart skipped a beat as I saw a wader standing with it's bill pointed to the sky.  A quick look revealed it to be a Great Blue Heron, and my hopes of it being a bittern were smashed.  Back at Cottonwood Marsh, I met up with a wonderful lady who was just getting into birding.  My dad stopped by about this time and the three of us had a blast discussing birding and looking at the birds on the lake.  I picked up Belted Kingfisher, Horned Grebe and Blue-winged Teal for my year list, bringing me up to 71 on the year.
But...the birding didn't stop there.  On break at work at about 9:15, I saw a Short-eared Owl fly by, bringing my month list up to 59 birds.  Only three days left to March...can I hit 60? Stay tuned!

A pair of Wigeons.

A pair of Bufflehead.

Northern Shoveler.

Canada Geese.

Pied-billed Grebe.

One of numerous Red-winged Blackbirds.

American Goldfinch! One of the most beautiful birds.

The Osprey.

A Robin checking me out while I'm checking him out.

See it?

There he is.

A muskrat.

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