Thursday, May 9, 2013

Walden Ponds in...Spring?

With all this crazy Colorado spring snow, I figured this would be a good time to look back on the nice day that two Sundays ago was and the great birding my dad and I had that day.
Getting out to bird for the first time in about a month was amazing. Spring migration is off to a slow start and the snowstorms are not helping it pick up any.  I decided to call my dad up and see if he wanted to go out birding.  No surprise when he replied with a yes, and off we were to Walden Ponds.
Turning on to the road to the parking lot, an Osprey was spotted off in the distance. It never flew over the ponds though but was still a good bird to start off with.  Pied-billed Grebe and Western Grebe were spotted right off the bat.  Numerous other waterfowl dotted the surface of Cottonwood Marsh, as well as a large flock of 39 American White Pelicans.  We chatted with some other birders and heard about a Clark's Grebe on Cottonwood Marsh as well as a Solitary Sandpiper and American Avocets on another lake in the park. Scanning the lake, we tracked down a Lesser Yellowlegs, my first shorebird of the season outside of the common Killdeer, which we saw many of.  The teal trifecta soon appeared, which is something I always enjoy.  Watching the pelicans, I soon discovered a Black-necked Stilt foraging around them.  A wonderful bird that I haven't really seen many of. As we took another look over Cottonwood Marsh before heading deeper into the park, I was overjoyed to find a pair of Bufflehead still sticking around.
Heading into the park, we went to find the avocet and sandpiper.  Pretty quickly we tracked down the Solitary Sandpiper, but we did not see any avocet.   Scanning the water, we discovered a pair of gorgeous, spring plumage White-faced Ibis foraging toward the back, as well as a Greater Yellowlegs. Trecking further back into the park, only a Great Blue Heron was new for the day.  We enjoyed watching the herons in their rookery at the northwest end of the park and having a laugh watching them fly in to land in the tops of trees.   It still blows me away when I see them in trees as that is not a place you would ever logically think a heron could perch.
Pushing on back toward the entrance of the park, we scanned the waters on both sides of the trail and teased out a Wood Duck.  One of the most beautiful birds in the state, we enjoyed watching it for a few minutes before continuing on. My dad thought he saw a Wood Duck flying through the trees shortly before, but we weren't able to get a positive I.D. on it.  Arriving back at the parking lot at Cottonwood Marsh, we chatted with a couple other birders and scanned the the horde of swallows to see which species we could fine.  After about five minutes of scanning, we had tallied Barn Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Tree Swallow, Violet-green Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow and Bank Swallow.  Another birder came along and told us that the Clark's Grebe was hanging around the east end of the lake so off we went.  It didn't take too long to track it down. It wasn't a picture perfect Clark's but it was noticeably different than the Western Grebes hanging around there too.
After leaving Walden, we headed up the road to the South Boulder Creek trail head to walk the trail for a few minutes.  A Blue Jay showed up immediately, and a Song Sparrow made an appearance just down the trail too.  Not seeing much else, we started to walk back to the car and discovered another lbj(little brown job) skulking along the riverbank. I thought it was another Song Sparrow but the markings didn't add up and my dad didn't think it was one either.  Unfortunately, it disappeared into the bushes before we could get a better look at it. We spotted a Say's Phoebe, our first flycather of the year, further down the trail and a White-breasted Nuthatch made a fun appearance as well.  Just before we were about to leave, a Swainson's Hawk made a low fly over for us.  A first for the year for my dad and only the third I've seen so far.

Hopefully you all are having a great year of birding so far. I know I have been with the few times I have gotten out.
Next on the calendar: International Migratory Bird Day Bird Walk at Two Ponds! My dad and I are leading this walk at 7pm at Two Ponds NWR again. Hope to see you all there!
Then it's another Big Birding Weekend with my dad in a couple weekends.  Pawnee National Grasslands is our top choice right now, but we are also thinking about going up to chase down Ptarmigan as well.  Will keep you all up to date!

Happy birding!

Western Grebe

My first warblers of the year!


Red-winged Blackbird fly in. 

Lesser Yellowlegs

Blue-winged Teal

Monster flyover 

Find the Killdeer?

The rookery. 

Great Blue Heron

Swallow shots. 

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