Sunday, September 27, 2015

Pretty wolf spider

While having breakfast at sidewalk table of cafe in downtown Canon City I spotted this spider moving under my table. Identified by Eric Eaton as a "large wolf spider, family Lycosidae. Might be Hogna carolinensis, the widespread "Carolina Wolf Spider," but we have at least a few species that look like this." SeEtta

Bald-faced hornet (yellowjacket wasp) nest

Beautiful bald - faced hornets nest on Canon City Riverwalk this week. (I think the nests they build are works of amazing. This one just about at the minimum of 3 feet above the ground-usually see the high up in trees). Actually they are a species of yellowjacket wasp. See a couple of wasps guarding the nest. Took pics with phone camera just outside of their 'personal space '.  SeEtta

Migrating Williamson's Sapsucker in Red Canyon Park

I am trying to get into posting sightings again. Have been birding but the toll of chemo followed by radiation has reduced by energy level and stamina but slowly regaining some. I found this male Williamson's Sapsucker in Red Canyon Park just north of Canon City two days ago. This species does not spend either summers or winters in the pinyon juniper habitat of this park but I have found a lot of sapsucker holes in trees and found one during spring migration. I believe this sapsucker stopped over to feed on his migration. Unfortunately I could not get close to this large pinyon tree and he stayed in the shadows. SeEtta

Friday, August 21, 2015

Bighorn sheep rams in bachelor pad

While driving in Bighorn Sheep Canyon (real name of this canyon) that runs west of me going up H50 I spotted these 3 bighorn sheep rams loafing. Except during breeding season the bighorn sheep divide into gender groups. As these 3 were all together on this big outcropping I decided it was their bachelor pad. I was well over a hundred feet away from them (cropped severely to make pics larger) and stayed in my car yet these rams really watched me. SeEtta

Monday, August 10, 2015

Common Nighthawks migrating through

Here are 2 of the 5 Common Nighthawks I spotted flying along the Arkansas River corridor, apparently migrating. There could have been additional birds flying earlier than the 5 I spotted. Last year I saw about a dozen migrating Common Nighthawks on Aug 19 and on Aug 5 a similarly large flock also flying along the Arkansas River corridor. Fortunately as they slowly make their way downstream they take detours to chase insects on which to feed. SeEtta

Friday, August 7, 2015

Harlequin Bug on sunflower plant

This bright orange and black insect is a Harlequin Bug which is usually thought of as a pest for a variety of food crops. However I found out it loves sunflower plants and sunflower plants are often recommended as a 'trap' crop to lure them away from food crops. I found this Harlequin Bug on this sunflower plant leaf in Red Canyon Park north of Canon City. I saw at least 2 of these on this sunflower plant but since this is a banner year for sunflowers in my area they should not present a significant problem. SeEtta

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dickcissels in sunflower field in El Paso County

After my medical appointment in Colorado Springs yesterday I decided to take a detour east on my way home to the southwest in order to do some birding in that area I haven't been to in a long time. While driving on Squirrel Creek Road in El Paso County (at the speed limit of 45 mph) I thought I heard a distant Dickcissel coming from a field filled with sunflowers. That seemed unlikely but... so I turned around , drove back by slowly--yes, not just one Dickcissel but several were singing in a field field with sunflowers on the south side of the road and more singing in a patch of sunflowers in a mixed field (a wooded area, a small pond, grasses that looked to be non native) on the north side.
I found this male Dickcissel on sunflower plants that made good singing perches for him (I rarely photograph them from the back so included the middle shot as it shows the back nicely). It seemed surprising to me to see them in these areas with sunflowers but they do like to have tall perches for their singing which sunflower plants can provide and I did subsequently find an older article in the Auk which described sunflowers as one of the tallest forbs in the breeding territories in this study. . As these males (at least 4 that I saw and I suspect more likely 6 males) were singing pretty frequently in mid-day (2 pm) I would think they are guarding territories with females on nests in those fields. The bottom pic shows the extensive sunflower field on the south side of the road. SeEtta

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