Monday, March 10, 2014
I spotted 4 Sandhill Cranes foraging in an agricultural field on the east side of Canon City today. Migrating Sandhill Cranes fly over this area and can be heard during both spring and fall migrations with their distinctive calls. Small family groups usually stop-over to feed though generally I have only seen them in less public (and thus less disturbed by people) fields in the area. These were feeding alongside a number of Canada Geese and 2 Snow Geese (that are vagrant to this area) in a field where manure was spread last week likely providing lots of insects plus some grain for a good crane feed.
Here is a very brief video clip of one of the cranes feeding. SeEtta
Monday, March 3, 2014
I spotted this Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk today on the east side of Canon City. It was very shy flushed when it saw me photographing it from more than 250 feet away so photos are not the best--and it was 5:30 pm so light was low.
With it's mostly white face, dark crown, brownish-black body, streaked white breast, blackish belly I believe this is a Light morph (or using Wheeler's scheme, a light intermediate morph) Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk.
The tail is whitish above on the basal half with rufous on the outer half. The underside of tail looks like marble with rufous. SeEtta
Thursday, February 27, 2014
I spotted this hawk on the bluff not far from my house as I drove by then turned around to check it out. I originally thought it was a Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk. However, on closer examination of my photos I could see the following field marks consistent with an dark morph Rough-legged Hawk described by Brian Wheeler in Raptors of Western North America (p.390): "Very defined white mask. Yellow gape is narrow but obvious as it contrasts against the dark head." The yellow gape is clearer when the photos are enlarged further (tho parts get more blurry).
I believe this bird fits best the 'Adult brown type' described by Wheeler as one of 3 subtypes whose head is "all dark without pale supercilium and auricular regions." (p. 390). In describing the body of this type, Wheeler states,"There is often a sharp demarcation line between the more tawny-brown neck and breast and the darker, uniformly blackish brown belly and flanks." (p.391)
This bird appears to have the tail type described by Wheeler as "Partially banded type (many females, some males)--Ventral surface is pale gray with partial, narrow gray bands." (p. 391) Dark morphs are usually noted to be less than 10% of the Rough-legged Hawks in western U.S. which follows Gloger’s Rule: ("the amount of black pigment increases with more humidity") SeEtta
Sunday, February 23, 2014
My area of south Central Colorado is interesting in terms of biogeography--we have a lot of cholla cactus grasslands in addition to juniper grasslands with a major river providing a ribbon of lowland deciduous riparian forest cutting through the middle. It provides the proper circumstances for limited numbers of several bird species generally thought of as 'southwestern'. This includes a small ongoing resident population Rufous-crowned Sparrows that are found in our Tunnel Drive area that is at the mouth of the Royal Gorge canyon. Today was a perfect day for a hike up the trail to look for these birds as it was the first day in a week that we didn't have strong winds (this canyon makes even a little wind unbearable as it is like a wind tunnel) plus the temperature wasn't too cold (around 50 F during my walk). I had to walk more than a half mile to find them but I did spot at least 2, maybe 3. And is almost always the case for me in this location, they were in the company of Canyon Towhees. Wish the photos were better but these birds spent most of the time behind or inside foliage so hard to get a clear view. SeEtta
Wednesday, February 19, 2014
I photographed clouds similar to these in 2010 then again in 2012. I shared them with the Pueblo Weather Service meteorologists who confirmed the photos are called rotor clouds that are a rare phenomena caused by "Kelvin-Helmholtz instability" that is related to wind shear likely from strong winds near mountains.
I spotted these yesterday as strong winds caused the wind shear along the Wet Mountains just to the southwest of Canon City to create these rotor/wave clouds again. SeEtta
I have stayed in this funky older motel in Junction once before. It was very reasonably priced, clean, allowed my dog and had all these neat bird and other paintings on the outside of each room (about 18-24 inches high)
They were all quite good and of course made me feel at home. The area has excellent birding though not so much with the nasty weather this time.
I asked about them and was told they had hired an artist from out of town to come to do the paintings over a year ago.
None of them were signed which was too bad as this artist is not only a good painter but also knows local flora and fauna.
And inside each room there was a mural painted on one wall, or sometimes extending the scene to the next wall. SeEtta
Sorry about not posting for past 2 weeks. I moved to stay with friends near South Padre Island for a few days then packed up for return trip home. Terrible weather--snow and freezing rain in the northern and western areas that I could travel through to get home. Then woke to freezing fog that had laid a thin layer of ice on everything including the roads so stayed extra night in Junction,Tx. When I got near Amarillo I saw this fog bank (looks like mountains in the distance) looming ahead--and the weather radio reported it was freezing fog with travel advisory so had to backtrack to a highway I could head west into New Mexico to try to stay ahead of it-I did and made it home the following day. SeEtta
Posted by SRM at 11:02 PM