Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Clouds over Wet Mountains in Colorado

Just some nice recent clouds that I have seen formed over the Wet Mountains that lie to the southwest of Canon City. In the top pic the strong winds formed this very smooth lenticular cloud that was backlit with a little color as the sun had just set. The bottom pic shows some strong color to clouds at sunset over the Wet Mountains. Only editing to these pics was to crop them. SeEtta

Bald Eagle in Bighorn Sheep Canyon of Colorado

I saw both this and a second adult Bald Eagle while driving through the Bighorn Sheep Canyon that runs west of Canon City to near Salida. Both of these eagles were perched over the Arkansas River just within a few miles to the east of Cotopaxi. I watched they surveyed the river below watching for fish go after. They were in the area where Christo plans to use large drilling rigs, like are used to drill for oil, to drill large holes in boulders along the river banks in order to erect tall poles that will hold the fabric that will be draped over the river. SeEtta

Monday, February 6, 2012

Handsome Barrow's Goldeneye


I found this flock composed of 1 male with his 8 female harem in Salida, CO at a small fishing lake called Sands Lake. As small as this lake is, it is really a large pond, it attracts and holds a good number of common waterfowl. For some reason it often has Barrow's Goldeneye during the winter.
The middle and especially the bottom pic show well the very steep forehead on this goldeneye species. With it's forehead feathers fully erect the the forehead appears to overhang the beak in the bottom pic. I think Barrow's Goldeneye are especially handsome duck. SeEtta

Townsend's Solitaire being unusually friendly

I was very surprised yesterday when this Townsend's Solitaire landed less than 10 feet away and stayed put while I photographed it. I have never found this species to be quite so tolerant of humans. And I was standing out in the open and had been taking photos so it would have heard the sounds of the mechanical shutter on my dslr releasing. There were several Townsend's Solitaire nearby and one had sang their sweet warbling song that brightens a winter day.
Both pics are the same, just the one on top was severely cropped to get a super close-up view. SeEtta

Northern Pygmy-Owl, view from the top


I should have put this photo in earlier, it is actually the same as the top photo in the entry right below but not cropped. I think it provides an interesting view of how high up in this conifer this little Northern Pygmy-Owl was perched. And it is likely why I kept thinking I heard it calling from different locations (and then looked in those directions rather than up where it was)--when they turn their heads their call sounds like it is coming from a different location and with it up this high it had me looking in all the wrong places. SeEtta

More Northern Pygmy-Owl

The eyes and light eyebrows of the Northern Pygmy-Owl can be seen in the top pic as the owl was looking down at me in this photo. If you look hard you can see the beak though the falling snowflakes are better seen.
In the bottom pic the owl is perched facing my direction but it's head is turned to the side to look at something other than me (which I am glad for as it is important that these owls are able to watch for predators and look for food, not just focus on birders). This pic does give the best view of the narrow black streaks on the belly of the owl which are framed by whitish sides. Interestingly this is only about a hundred feet from where I found a pair of Northern Pygmy-Owls in April, 2008 (see photos and post about that in my old blog) that were engaged in 'allopreening' (mutual preening), singing and a most unusual melodic singing that is still a mystery. SeEtta

Calling NorthernPygmy-Owl

I found this Northern Pygmy-Owl calling from the very top of this 60-80 foot tall conifer (in the center right of the video). Since Northern Pygmy-Owls are only about 7 inches tall it cannot be seen in the video but can be clearly heard as it gives it's repetitive toot calls as well as those of a Mountain Chickadee that was roused by the touting.  It also did some trilling but it was given in short bursts so I didn't get it on the video.  This location in Chaffee County, Colorado is about 9,000 feet and though it wasn't snowing when I got there, it was snowing moderately when I took the video and these photos. With the backlighting form the overcast sky, the falling snow and the distance, these are the best photos I could get (and they are severely cropped to enlarge this little owl). Though not very clear this pic does show this owl's tail the best. I did use taped playback to solicit this owl and used my own whistled toots that it did respond to but stopped both after I located it (I could have kept using the playback to try to get the owl to come closer but I think that is too much intrusion and the owl needed to get back to it's activities of daily living--it did fly off after I got the video and photos. More pics follow SeEtta