Monday, December 31, 2012

A Year in Review

2012 has been a great year for me.  For starters, I started this blog in February and have had a wonderful time blogging my adventures for you all! As of this writing, this blog has accumulated 917 views(not including my own)!  My year list ended at 234 species, well exceeding my goal of 200 birds on the year.  This included 14 life birds, my 300th life bird(a Glossy Ibis at Stearn's Lake) and my 250th state bird(Bronzed Cowbird at Chatfield State Park on the December 15th Christmas Bird Count).  I also had the opportunity to lead five bird walks at Two Ponds NWR, and I would like to thank Joyce Persson for giving my dad and I this wonderful opportunity and we look forward to leading many more bird walks at Two Ponds in 2013!  This year also included an almost 100 bird big day, with the second day of my dad's and my Big Birding Weekend ending with 98 birds seen, and the weekend itself accumulating 114 species including a Golden-winged Warbler at Red Lion SWA.  This years Barr Lake Bird Festival was great fun as it always is.  Getting a chance to bird out in California again was very exciting, and I was finally able to track down my life Elegant Tern at Channel Islands Harbor.  The Great Backyard Bird Count at Two Ponds NWR in February and the two Christmas Bird Counts this year were great fun and provided a chance to bird with some excellent local birders!  These are just a few of the many great birding adventures I had this year. I look forward to the birding adventures that next year will bring, and look forward to keeping this blog flowing with posts and photos! Have a Happy New Year everyone and see you all next year!

Sunday, December 30, 2012

2012 Christmas Bird Count #2

Another fun and wonderful CBC under the belt!  Went back to Roxborough State Park this time.  I had a lot of fun last year on this count so I was really looking forward to this years CBC.
We again met up at Safeway, with a few returning members from last year and some new members to the count.  The weather report called for a mid 30's temp, but the wind made it seem like it was going to make for another miserably fun count, much like last year.  Once we were all together and on the same page for the plans for the day, we were off to find and count some birds.
Wind, wind and, well, lots more wind made it miserable. Northern Harrier, Rough-legged Hawk, Wood Duck and a Song Sparrow made the cold bearable.  We saw a few other more common birds, and lots of snow.
We continued on to Roxborough, stopping first to scan some open water on the reservoir just outside the park.  Common Goldeneye, Redhead and Ring-necked Duck were nice finds on the water, and shortly up the road the first Northern Shrike of the CBC provided some nice, fairly close views.
Arriving in the park itself, we were pleasantly surprised to find that the wind had died down and the sun was shining nicely.  Though it was only about 30 degrees out, it felt balmy compared to the windy cold we had earlier.
We walked up to the visitor center and saw many Black-capped Chickadees and some Dark-eyed Juncos, Western Scrub Jay and one Spotted Towhee.  We headed out along the Willow Creek Trail. Shortly along the trail, we heard an odd call and started searching the rock face for the bird that made it.  A Canyon Wren hopped out, making a short appearance before disappearing back into the rock.  This was a nice bird to see, and the first of the CBC.  A large raptor appeared in the distance, and after some discussion and consulting of a book, identified it as a juvenile Bald Eagle.  Continuing along, we picked up some more chickadees and jays.  Two Red-tailed Hawks were soon discovered overhead, including a Kriders race Red-tailed Hawk.  We were able to enjoy some long, excellent views of this uncommon bird before they disappeared behind the ridges.  Golden Eagle, a pair of heard American Goldfinches and more jays concluded the walk along the trail.
Back at the nature center, I set up shop outside and took some pictures of the chickadees.  After a short lunch we headed back outside and headed out on the Fountain Valley Trail.  Chickadees and another junco greeted us, and soon another Northern Shrike made an appearance.  One of the three that we saw.  Heading further along the trail, a pair of American Tree Sparrows were found, with one landing feet away from us on the pathway to bathe in the snow.  While we were watching the sparrow, a falcon flew by.  We only got a short view, but my dad and I saw it well enough to identify it as a Peregrine Falcon. This was the first time this bird had been seen on this count.  The pictures I took of it turned out less than spectacular, but at least they show the bird to be a falcon.  The trail was very quiet bird wise for most of the next mile.  A pair of odd calls drew our attention to the rock face.  We scoured the rocks for the source for a few minutes before we finally spotted some movement.  A close look revealed the birds to be a pair Canyon Wrens foraging along the rocks.  We were able to get everyone to have a nice view of these birds before we started heading along the trail.  An American Kestrel suddenly swooped in and made a pass at the wrens, but got nothing.  The kestrel then perched on the top of the rock face for a minute before taking off again.  We proceeded back to the nature center with very little bird activity.
We saw a total of 31 different species of birds, a very productive CBC.  Thankfully the weather was much nicer in the park, unlike last year when the entire CBC day was miserable.

Wind and snow.

The only open water in our count area.

Northern Shrike. Awesome views of this bird.

At the feeder.

The Krider's race Red-tailed Hawk.

On the Willow Creek Trail.

Downy Woodpecker on the Fountain Valley Trail. If you look at the second picture you can see the nictating membrane that protects the woodpeckers eyes when it strikes the branch.

The falcon.

American Tree Sparrow providing for excellent views.

Friday, December 21, 2012

BirdSpyBlog Widget!

Created a widget for my blog! If you would like to follow my blog, or link/share my blog, feel free to grab the html code and post on your blog or site! It is free and easy to use and I will return the favor if you create a widget too.
Link to the widget:
BirdSpyBlog Widget


Wednesday, December 19, 2012


One CBC down and one more to go! Of the five CBCs I have been on I have had a great time at each! Birded with great birders, saw many wonderful birds, have added a few life birds to my list as well as just had a great time outdoors.
Next CBC on the list! Roxborough State Park again on the 29th! Participated in last years CBC at Roxborough and had a wonderful time.  Saw around 30 species inculding Bald Eagle and Northern Shrike. Hope to see many more great birds this year!

I know it is still two months away but...never too early to start advertising the Great Backyard Bird Count! Last year my dad and I lead a bird walk at Two Ponds NWR for the GBBC and boy was that fun. In total, more than 104,000 lists were submitted with 623 total species seen and over 17 million individual birds counted! I was unable to submit or participate in any other counts over that weekend but this year I am looking forward to participating again!  For more information on the GBBC, click on one of the icons on the right of this blog!

Hope to see you all out there!

Saturday, December 15, 2012

2012 Christmas Bird Count #1

Finished a successful and very fun first CBC of the year! Went down to Chatfield State Park and birded the Plum Creek area of the park.  Day started off at 5am, arrived at the park around 7am with a lovely 20 something degree temp and light wind. Everyone in our group, led by the fun and great birder Norm, were given their respective sections of Plum Creek to bird and we were off. My dad and I were charged with birding the "Flooded Parking Lot" section of Plum Creek.  We had barely arrived at the parking lot when a Song Sparrow made an appearance. We then plunged headlong into the trees and undergrowth to seek out hidden birds.  A large herd of elk and a couple white tailed deer made appearances, as did a few Black-capped Chickadees and a few Red-tailed Hawks.  Black-billed Magpies were a dime a dozen, and a Wood Duck made an overhead pass, but due to the cold, dreary weather not many other birds were out.  We did manage to flush one Great Horned Owl, and then located another in the trees.  Two more Song Sparrows made it on the list as did a few other common birds.  After having bushwhacked and creek crossed for a few hours, we made our way back to meet up with everyone else and figure out what the next plan of action was.  We compared lists and counts, traded a few stories and then were off to the next leg of the days count.
We went with two other birders to head out to the dam and see what birds were around there.  We had almost come to our destination when we saw a decent sized flock of birds up in a tree.  From first looks they appeared to be robins, but once we got the scope on them we were delighted to find them to be Rusty Blackbirds, a rare but semi regular bird in Colorado during these months.  They took flight and we counted 10 of these birds.  We pushed out onto the frozen mudflats and marsh after they flew off, and were greeted with a bonanza of bird life.  Common Mergansers lived up to their name, three Hooded Mergansers made an appearance, as did three Killdeer that were still hanging around.  Bufflehead, Green-winged Teal, Common Goldeneye and a variety of other waterfowl were on the lake.  With time winding down, we turned around and headed back the way we came.  We barely got back into the trees and undergrowth when we discovered three Brown Creepers working the trees.  We enjoyed watching these wonderful little birds for a while, and then had to press on.  We parted ways with everyone at the parking lot, and on our way out picked up a Ferruginous Hawk sitting atop a pole.  
We finished the day with 31 CBC birds, and a list of 35 personal birds.  Not bad for a December day.

Sunrise at Chatfield.

Canada Geese. There were numerous Cackling Geese as well.


The Flooded Parking Lot.

Two Red-tailed Hawks

Black-capped Chickadee. They were our most numerous small bird.

One of the Great Horned Owls we saw.

Townsend's Solitaire. Horribly backlit.

Rusty Blackbirds. The lighting and sky made for rough time taking pictures but you can tell these are blackbirds at least.

The lake and one of three hardy Killdeer.

Brown Creeper. Presented numerous photo ops and a great time to observe.