Saturday, July 25, 2009

I'm all eyes (Burrowing Owl)

I saw this little owl earlier this week when I made a quick trip down to the Rocky Ford, CO area. Burrowing Owl's large eyes take up most of their face. Those sultry looking eyes are probably what makes them so appealing to us. SeEtta

Cool cat--bobcat that is-

Here are two more pics of that bobcat I saw in full daylight, a great way to get some good pics like these. The cat was about 70 feet away at this point and not seeming to hurry. It ran out across the road just after a SUV passed (they stopped also and kept saying "its a bobcat, but that didn't seem to bother it). It then went under the barbed wire fence, then stopped to turn as shown in the top pic to look back at us (I think mostly at the lady yelling "it's a bobcat"). SeEtta

Unusual daytime bobcat

The previous bobcats I have seen were at dusk so I was surprised to spot this bobcat crossing a gravel road just south of Canon City at 6 pm in full daylight. However a little research shows I shouldn't be surprised: "Highly mobile, the typical bobcat, according to Mallow, ranges widely in late afternoon and early evening, during the midnight hours, and through the early morning hours. In between the times of its longer distance movements, it forages and rests" (from /DesertUSA, a good website with reliable info).
Note the bold bands on the back of it's tufted ears, which are a some identifying field marks. More field marks are the the bobbed tail and the bold bands on top of the tail.
In the bottom pic the bobcat is taking a break in the shade, just over 125 feet away, just before it saunters off towards a canyon. SeEtta

Friday, July 24, 2009

Rock Wrens-up close and personal

I had to post these close-up's of the Rock Wrens I photographed near Canon City. Though I was hand-holding my camera, I got good enough pics to crop them for big enlargement. And they are good enough to enlarge more by double-clicking on them. SeEtta

Rockin Rock Wrens

I ran across a family of Rock Wrens in a canyon only a few miles from Canon City,CO. They appeared as interested in me as I was in them. They kept flying back near to me giving me a chance for these pics. Though one of them was in juvenal plumage, I was unable to get a good pic of that bird so all these pics are of adults. One of the adults was carrying food to feed a young bird so apparently there was at least one fledgling. I included the bottom, which isn't good quality, because it gives an interesting view of the underside of the bird's wings. It is interesting that this bird, which was just taking off, had it's eye's closed?? SeEtta

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Handsome pronghorn

The handsome young buck pronghorn (no, they are not antelopes, they are pronghorn) was with a herd composed mostly of young males (that seems unusual?). I think they are such beautiful animals I had to enlarge his photo. I think the photos are enhanced by the warm glow of waining daylight just before sunset.
The bottom pic show a view of the Sangre de Chriso Mountains taken from the Wet Mountain Valley below. SeEtta

Choir singings--Vesper Sparrows

Yesterday I drove up to Lake DeWeese to "chase" a very rare bird for Colorado, a Reddish Egret. Though it failed to show-up, I had a very pleasant day. Lake DeWeese is located in the Wet Mountain Valley, a high park that lies at almost 8,000 feet between the very scenic Sangre de Christo Mountains and the Wet Mountains. So the temps were in the low 80's in the afternoon while back in the Canon City area they were in the low 90's.
There were good numbers of shorebirds in the mudflats of Lake DeWeese including Least, Spotted, Semipalmated, Baird's and 2 Stilt Sandpipers. There were also Greater Yellowlegs, an Eared Grebe in brilliant Alternate (breeding) Plumage, Western Grebes (as well as Mallards and Canada Geese) with young swimming close behind plus about 2 dozen American White Pelicans. In the grassy fields were Horned Larks, Brewers, Savanannah and Vesper Sparrows including the one in these pics. In the early evening the Vesper Sparrows were living up to the definition of vesper--"a religious service in the late afternoon or the evening." Their beautiful singing was like listening to a choir. One of the pics I took caught this Vesper Sparrow just as it was about to lift off giving an interesting view of it's wings and lower back not usually visible. If you look close (it helps to enlarge the pic by double-clicking on it) there are reddish lines close to the bottom of the wings that I think may be a bone showing through the skin and feathers. And do double-click on the top pic as it enlarges nicely for a great close-up view. SeEtta

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Easten Phoebe bonanza

After finding the Eastern Phoebe at Pathfinder Park this morning, I thought it might have been one of the two Eastern Phoebes I had seen last evening at my friend's property which is in the area. Whether it was or not, I was surprised to find a total of 3 Eastern Phoebes along with the juvenile Black Phoebe that has been staying by their pond for several weeks. The lighting wasn't good as it was late in the day and cloudy so I didn't see any yellow wash on their underparts, but I suspect 1-2 of these are juveniles. The bird in the top pic shows juvenile characteristics in the cinnamon buff edging shown on coverts.
I don't think these were born on my friend's property but are moving through as they engage in post-breeding dispersal. They could even be from the first brood of Eastern Phoebes born at the old sewer tanks on the western part of the Canon City Riverwalk, about 4-5 miles west of this location. SeEtta

Eastern & Black Phoebes share wetland

I birded Pathfinder Park near Florence,CO this morning to see if the juvenile Black Phoebes were still there. I only found one of the two juvenile Black Phoebes and it was calling frequently as it fed in the wetland area. Then a second phoebe flew into sight. I thought this was the second Black Phoebe, but no--it was a juvenile Eastern Phoebe. I got the top pic of the two as they perched quite near each other. They were about 75 feet away and I took the pic handheld so it is not great but shows how much more brown the Eastern Phoebe is, though the cinnamon edges to the juvenile Black Phoebe's plumage clearly stands out.
The two phoebes foraged near each other, seemingly without problem. However, they did have a fussy interaction at one point but then returned to sharing this small wetland. As I turned to leave the Eastern Phoebe flew out of the wetland and landed about 25 feet from me. It proceeded to forage out in the open and I was able to get the bottom two pics of it that show off it's plumage fairly well. The yellowish gape and bill flanges, found on young birds, is visible in bottom pic. However, the classic yellowish wash on the underparts on not visible in these pics and frankly not visible in the field--possibly a function of the light conditions.
Birds of North America online well describes the other juvenile plumage characteristics: "Wing coverts tend to have cinnamon-buff edgings, along with feathers of the lower back, rump and the upper tail coverts. This edging of the greater and median upper (primary and) secondary coverts gives birds in Juvenal plumage faint wing bars." The bottom two pics are of very good quality so can be enlarged by double-clicking on each of them for great close-ups. SeEtta

Black Phoebe with odd crown

This is the Black Phoebe in the post below but 8 days earlier (photographed within 50 feet of subsequent pics). It has a odd crown plumage but the remainder of it's plumage isn't as rugged (except the rump area) though it has clearly begun to molt. Definitely it's median and greater coverts are still intact but clearly not so in the pics in the post below.
In the middle pic the bird is engaged in 'sunning' behavior, one of things that birds do to get rid of parasites. It is also a great way to see more of a bird's feathers than usually seen as they spread them out for maximum sun-work. With it's beak wide open (likely for the air conditioning effect), it looks like it is exclaiming a very contented "aahhhh." SeEtta