Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Spotted Sandpiper chicks getting bigger

I continue following the Spotted Sandpiper parent and when possible it's chicks. Over the week-end the parent, who gives warning calls for the chicks to hide when it is concerned, allowed one of it's chicks to come out from the heavy vegetation to learn how to walk along the edge of the river and forage there. I stood very still about 35-40 feet from where the chick was located to get these pics with my long zoom lens.
And the chicks have certainly grown taller since I last saw them just 4 days before. Nevertheless the parent bird stayed nearby clearly watching over it's offspring.
The pic just above shows the sparse feathering where a tail is growing--they just look like fuzzy-butts.
The bills on the chicks are also growing quite a lot both in length and width though clearly much smaller than the parent's bill.
And finally yesterday both chicks were out from the thick vegetation and I got the bottom 3 pics of that chick (they are the same size and look just alike).
This little guy practiced the one legged bird stand.
And another fuzzy-butt shot. SeEtta

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Silver-spotted Skipper

Another critter I photographed at Florence River Park, this member of the skipper family of butterflies ["Skippers have large eyes, short antennae (often with hooked clubs), stout bodies, and three pairs of walking legs"] was perched near their wetland area. Though the descriptions of this Silver-spotted Skipper state that the patch on it's hindwing is silver or silver-white from which it gets it's name, it looked whitish in the field just as it does in this pic. SeEtta

Friday, July 24, 2015

Band-winged Meadowhawk, female dragonfly

I photographed this female dragonfly, a Band-winged Meadowhawk, at Florence River Park this week. "This meadowhawk is named for the band of amber color near the base of the wings." (from http://thedragonflywhisperer.blogspot.com/2013/09/band-winged-meadowhawk.html). The males are red and females like this one are yellowish.
Band-winged Meadowhawks are approximately 1- 1.5 inches in body length with wings about 2 inches across (from https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Band-winged_meadowhawk). SeEtta

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Spotted Sandpiper Chicks, 3 more days older

Two days when I went to check on the Spotted Sandpiper family at Florence River Park I thought they had likely perished--there were two men engaged in gold panning right where the parent sandpiper had been and they had dug some of the sand from the bank where I last saw the sandpiper chicks. Arggh, I was afraid that all this activity, plus a large off leash dog with these people, would have scared the parent away and even if the chicks were successful in hiding in the vegetation they would not survive without a parent at their young age. What a surprise when I returned that evening for one last check to be accosted by the parent sandpiper calling loudly and challenging me by walking right towards me (and my dog). It took awhile for the parent to settle down and for one of the chicks to walk in some grass where I could spot it--the parent had moved the chicks about 150 from the river into an area with a lot of vegetation. I returned day before yesterday and refound the parent and chicks back near the river where I had first spotted them--that is when I took these pics. They are 3 days older than the first pics I took.
After I took these pics I was able to observe the location where the chicks went into the vegetation by the river, with the parent nearby guarding, from my car. As I sat in my car checking my phone messages 2 men with large off leash dogs arrived and started towards the location where the chicks had gone. I couldn't handle watching these dogs possibly find the chicks so I explained the situation to the men and asked them not to let their dogs just run free in that location--I was pleasantly surprised that they were agreeable and they took their off leash dogs to another part of the park. Arggh, next came a girl with a horse she brought over to the vegetation near where the chicks had gone as she looked for grass to feed her horse. Fortunately she decided the grass there wasn't sufficient and took the horse elsewhere. Geese, there are a lot of dangers for young sandpiper chicks. I had to leave so hoped the parent was moving the chicks to a less active location. When I returned yesterday the parent had moved further from away from the parking lot and where more people access the river. It called vigorously and came towards me as before. I did not have time to look for the chicks but given the parents behavior I expect they are ok. Same for tonight-parent guarding the area same as yesterday. SeEtta

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Red Canyon Park: Gray Flycatcher carrying food and more

I drove up to Red Canyon Park this evening as I have not been up there for a month or so. I spotted several Gray Flycatchers, the specialty bird species here, but they were very shy. This one with what looks like a dragonfly in it's bill would not deliver this food to it's offspring with me around. I walked 50 feet away but it did not budge so I left. I suspect the others still have babies in the nest or fledglings they are taking care of.
There were several Lazuli Buntings singing near the park entrance and more by Four Mile Creek near the park entrance. Also Blue Grosbeak singing in that area. Plus I found a likely pair of Evening Grosbeak (two adults perched together in breeding season) in the park. Not bad for early evening in July. Arggh, but the nasty gnats were out in force, had to stuff pieces of a paper napkin in my ears to keep them out of that sensitive location. SeEtta

Monday, July 20, 2015

Just fledged Yellow Warbler and dad

Summer is such fun with all the newly fledged youngsters that look so little like the adults of their species to add a lot of challenge to identification. Fortunately if one can locate the parent doing the feeding as I did for this recent fledgling the identification is obvious--these Yellow Warbler fledglings followed their dad from tree to shrub, begging to be fed. The male bird was very busy finding food for them and also getting them to follow him to a safer location off the main river trail of the Canon City Riverwalk (actually I stood guard for awhile to let these birds move across the trails to further from the trail as many walkers coming by had large dogs that could if nothing else step on one of the young birds). SeEtta

Sunday, July 19, 2015

Video clip: Protective parent Spotted Sandpiper


Agitated Spotted Sandpiper from SeEtta Moss on Vimeo This is the parent Spotted Sandpiper that gets agitated as I try to walk the trail past where it's chicks are hidden. Unlike Killdeer it does not try to track me away from the chicks but comes right towards me. At the end of short clip it gets even closer as it flies past me. Once it flew past I walked on away from the area. SeEtta

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Tiny Spotted Sandpiper chicks

I had to sneak up and sit, partially hidden from the parent, about 35 feet from where I watched the Spotted Sandpiper chicks in order for the parent bird to let these chicks come out from inside the vegetation where I could watch and photograph them. The parent continued in a state of alert and called the chicks back into hiding several times when other park users walked by. I was able to see two chicks together at one point but not sure if there may have been more as otherwise I only saw one at a time, and then usually at least partially obstructed by some vegetation.
I was surprised to see such young chicks already doing the Spotted Sandpiper teetering. I am more amazed to read in Birds of North America (BNA) online that this begins within 30 minutes of hatching-these are indeed a precocial species.
As I watched the chicks spent a lot of time in the cover of vegetation but when in view they would peck on the ground. BNA says they begin feeding themselves about 2 hours after hatching. Like other shorebird chicks they are cute little downy critters. This is the first time I have found young Spotted Sandpipers or other evidence of their breeding along the Arkansas River in my area though I have looked for breeding here for some years. More on the parent bird tomorrow. SeEtta