Friday, April 22, 2011

American Avocet-no identification problem with these birds

This American Avocet was the highlight of my visit to Lake Cheraw which is northeast of La Junta. Though the wind had been gusting all afternoon, it became even stronger when I got to Lake Cheraw and the waves were pushing over the shore on the north side of the lake where much of the visible shorebird habitat is located.
The waves didn't stop this American Avocet from foraging and it was successful a number of times while I watched including in the bottom pic. I was surprised to see 3 Black-crowned Night Herons that were taking shelter by the wetland area where a flock of White-faced Ibis were sheltering. Other birds included Black-necked Stilts, aechmophorus grebes, Eared and Horned Grebes (in high breeding colors), and waterfowl including Ruddy Ducks. SeEtta

Another godwit pic

This pic gives some indication of the size of this godwit compared to the Ring-billed Gull which are listed as 17.5 inches in length in The Sibley Guide to Birds, while Hudsonian Godwits are listed at 15.5 inches and Marbled Godwits at 18 inches in length. With the gull being several feet closer, it should look larger relative to the size of the godwit. SeEtta

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Godwits-Hudsonian vs Marbled

Yesterday I saw 5 Godwits foraging at Lake Holbrook which is located north of La Junta,CO. Since the water level is fairly low, the shoreline is distant and even with my 40-60 zoom on my Zeiss spotting scope at full power I struggled trying to tell if these were Marbled or the rare Hudsonians. I had hoped that these photos would help me identify them but I am still not sure (tho I believe at least one of these is a Hudsonian). The features identifying them as godwits include dark and long legged shorebirds, long bill that is slightly upturned that is reddish/orangish at it's base (clearer in spotting scope than pics)
The bird is the top pic shows black tail feathers, a feature mentioned in The Sibley Guide to Birds though when in the context of distinguishing them from Willets (I think the dark marking in front of neck is shadow of feathers blown up in the gusty winds). I think the bottom pic looks the most clearly like a Hudsonian showing a very distinct supercilium with a darker crown and a lighter colored (gray?) neck than the breast and back. I will await feedback from birders who have more experience with differentiating these species. SeEtta

Monday, April 18, 2011

Yellow-headed Blackbirds arrive in Florence, CO

There are few locations that host Yellow-headed Blackbirds in the Canon City,CO area but one of the dairies in Florence is a one of those locations where this species occurs regularly from spring to early fall. Like the Starlings and other blackbird species, the Yellow-headed Blackbirds comes to eat from the spilled grain and seed here. And they have a distinctive tail-held-high-up stance when feeding as shown in these pics. SeEtta

Evening Grosbeak invasion

Known as an invasive species, Evening Grosbeak are living up to that descriptor as seem to be invading my area of Colorado. I have been hearing Evening Grosbeaks in my neighborhood in Canon City, CO for just over a week and have seen them high up in my neighbors tall trees.
Today I found two flocks of Evening Grosbeaks feasting on the tender shoots in groves of deciduous trees in locations about a half mile apart. Though the winds were gusting strongly, these agile birds fed on branches that jumped up and down as though riding some wild carnival rides. The winds also made taking these photos challenging. SeEtta

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Mountain gulls

I thought these pics of two Franklin's Gulls, though flying above some agricultural fields more than 5 miles from the foothills shown behind them, made interesting shots. They were part of at least one loose knit flock of 40-50 birds that stop over in Canon City as they migrated to breeding grounds in another part of Colorado. They are seen best by double-clicking on each pic, then clicking again. SeEtta

Migrating pelicans-not an unusual site in many parts of Colorado

American White Pelicans both migrate through and stay to breed in various parts of Colorado. Though they don't breed in my area, they do migrate through and often use our (few) local ponds as stop-overs as they make their way to South Park where they breed on 8,000 foot elevation lakes. I happened to be in Florence when this flock flew over. SeEtta

More migrating Wilson's Snipe: a photo study

Here are the rest of the photos of the Wilson's Snipe I found in the flooded fields in Florence this week. I like the top one as it shows just how well this species can be camouflaged when lying down in a field.
The middle two pics show the back plumage which is boldly striped and the short organge tail. The length of the bill is also clearly seen.
The bottom pic shows off the bold stripes on it's head. Again, double-click on each pic to enlarge (and then you can click again to super enlarge the pics). SeEtta