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.

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