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.

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