Friday, June 22, 2012

More pics of Grace's Warbler

The top photo was almost full screen. And I like to add photos with back views, that are eschewed by most photographers, since most of us see birds from behind as well as from the front so helpful to see how they look from that view. I might add that I was concerned about whether this population of Grace's Warblers had been impacted by the very dense gas drilling (fracking)that has happened in that area as I haven't been up there in several years. There were gas wells peppered throughout this ponderosa forest and I could hear them as I drove through the area and also when I was watching these birds. It isn't possibly to know if there have been impacts as this population has never been surveyed so can't know if there are fewer now--sad that we have so little info about so many birds. SeEtta

Grace's Warbler, very close-up

After I snapped a couple of photos of the bird in a conifer 80 feet away, it flew right into a tree near where I was standing. Instead of being bothered by the mechanical noise that my dslr camera makes when I take a photo it actually appeared to be drawn to it as it came so close in the tree that I couldn't focus my big telephoto lens set-up. So I was able to get some unusually close photos which I only cropped a little to bring up close and personal. I suspect that the fact these birds are located so distant from most birders (it is almost a 3 hour drive for me) that they have not been previously exposed to being photographed and aren't disturbed by many people. There are lots of gas wells and this areas has many large acreage ranchettes but since these small warblers are often high up in conifers there are likely not often even seen by people. SeEtta

Grace's Warbler, rare in eastern Colorado


Since I had to drive to Trinidad (the one in Colorado, not the island) yesterday to give a presentation to a watershed group I went early so I could do some birding in western Las Animas County as I don't get down that way often. I missed on the Hepatic Tanager at an established site just south of Walsenburg so headed to an established site for Grace's Warbler southeast of Aguilar,CO. I was rewarded by at least one singing Grace's Warbler and possibly a pair. This species is rare in eastern Colorado as most populations are in western Colorado. More pics to come. SeEtta

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Acorn Woodpeckers, a pair


I watched this male and the female whose pics I posted previous for about an hour and a half. They both perched on this same tree that is peppered with holes. They individually sallied out in pursuit of flying insects and most often returned with an insect in their beaks (some looked like flying ants, an apparent favorite of theirs per Birds of North America BNA online). They rarely interacted but would perch near each other as shown in the bottom pic. Given their ability to forage and perch near each other without apparent antagonism it seems likely that they are a pair. And since this is breeding season it is possible that they are or may breed here.

Though there are holes in this tree that are large enough to be nest holes, I did not see either bird going into any hole. Of course there could be another tree that might have a nest hole. I did observe each of them fly off to other trees on occasion. I did see them appearing to cache insects on occasion into some of the smaller holes and crevices in the tree (noted in BNA). SeEtta

Acorn Woodpeckers at Pueblo Mtn Park-wow

Late this afternoon I drove to Pueblo Mtn Park to look for the Acorn Woodpecker that had been found last week-end by Dave Van Manen, Director of Mtn Park Environmental Center that manages this city owned park, and the members of his field trip. Paul Hurtado and Dave Van Manen had spotted one in 2000 but no other sightings have been made in Pueblo County until last week-end. This is a very rare bird in eastern Colorado with only a small population very near the New Mexico border in Sugarite Canyon State Park, where I saw one some years ago, and a couple of sightings in the Colorado Springs area in recent years. Otherwise there is a population of them in the Durango area. SeEtta

Monday, June 18, 2012

A Yellow-billed Cuckoo, rare here

[note: I haven't posted as I have been very busy finishing Colo Breeding Bird Atlas II surveys, following a few special birds, and several conservation duties]

Yesterday morning while checking for breeding birds on private property in the Canon City, CO area I heard soft 'coo-coo-cooing' calls. When I investigated I spotted this Yellow-billed Cuckoo skulking inside the branches of a tree. It stayed partially hidden behind vegetation and this is the only photo I got off before it responded to the camera mechanical noise by fleeing out the back and into a thicket. Though not a large area of trees, it is very scrubby around the cottonwood and Russian Olive trees on the uplands bordering a marsh below (I did hear a Virginia Rail giving it's kiddick calls from there). I was not able to refind it then nor several times since then. It has several years since I have seen, or heard, Yellow-billed Cuckoos in this area with only one year when I recall hearing them calling in several areas during one season. I believe they have nested in my area as I once saw one carrying nesting material and they have generally been present in riparian areas consistent with their breeding habitat. I am always thrilled to see this species as it has suffered serious population declines, especially in the West, and is a Candidate species for T&E listing. SeEtta