Friday, June 20, 2014

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher building nest: video clip

Here is the short video clip of a Blue-gray Gnatcatcher working on a nest in Red Canyon Park north of Canon City. I think it is neat to watch birds shaping nests with their bodies as this one does. As noted in prior post I took the video as well as photos in other post from inside my car to reduce disturbance to nesting behavior. SeEtta

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher building a nest in Red Canyon Park


I drove up to Red Canyon Park this morning because I am leading a Denver Audubon Master Birder Field Trip on Saturday. Today was the coolest day this week but I wasn't able to get up there until almost 10 because I have a early class I went to first.

It was still quite productive: one pair and a single Gray Flycatcher, singing Bewick's Wren, singing Canyon Wren, several Plumbeous Vireo (singing off and on), several Spotted Towhees (singing), a few Black-head Grosbeak (singing), 3 Western Tanagers, 2 Blue-gray Gnatcatchers (building a nest as seen here), and several each Scrub Jays, Chipping Sparrows, and Common Ravens. Big miss was Juniper Titmouse and Black-throated Gray Warbler.
This pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers flew to a tree about 75 feet away to harvest lichen for the outside of their nest though it was on the tree where their nest was located. I got a nice tho short video clip showing the bird working the nest with it's body--but will have to upload tomorrow as it takes more processing and I have yet to get it uploaded to vimeo. Note: I took the photos and video from inside my car to reduce disturbance to nesting behavior.
In the bottom pic the bird has a relatively large piece of nesting material in it's beak that it is adding to the nest. SeEtta

Found a probable hybrid Black X Eastern Phoebe juvenile on the Canon City Riverwalk

Earlier this spring I found an apparent pair of what looked like Black Phoebes that were located across the river from the Canon City Riverwalk. Though I did see them a few times when they flew across the river so were closer, most of my views were about 80-100 feet away. So I did not get good enough views of these phoebes to tell if they appeared typical or not--which in my experience takes good close views and preferably close photos since we have had many pairings of Black with Eastern or combinations including one that is a probable hybrid over more than a decade.
Today as I walked the Riverwalk near that location I spotted this phoebe in intermediate plumage--see all the extra black feathering on it's belly below the inverted V where a Black Phoebe would be essentially all white -so a likely offspring of the phoebes from across the river and a probable hybrid Black X Eastern Phoebe. Note I added the last photo, which is not very sharp, because it clearly shows the brownish/rusty wing bars of this phoebe, a field mark for juveniles. I can also see a little of the residual orange flanges leftover from it's fledgling stage. SeEtta

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

I drove down to Pueblo Mountain Park over the week-end to see the Acorn Woodpeckers that were just reported as feeding young. I easily found both the male and female Acorn Woodpecker on the 'granary tree' that they have used to store acorns since their arrival at this location. It is also where they had an unsuccessful nesting attempt previously.
All of these photos are of the male. During the time I stayed watching (over an hour) both the male and female spent a lot of time in the nest hole (I think separately but they might have been inside together at one point). I never saw either bird bring any food to the nest hole nor spend time poking their heads in the nest hole as would occur when feeding. Instead they went in and out quickly leaving me the bottom pic showing just the tail as the male went inside. What I observed was more consistent with incubating behavior which is done by both the male and female.Birds of North America online.
I have some photos of the female I will post later. SeEtta
leavi

Monday, June 16, 2014

TRICOLORED HERON at Holcim Wetlands-photo taken from side of CR120

Wouldn't you know--the Holcim Wetlands had to be closed indefinitely after the very high water in the Arkansas River took out about 30 feet of bank including the trail, part of a small bridge that used to be over the tailwater stream. Now the wetlands are directly connected to the Arkansas River until Holcim can get engineering done and permission from the Corps of Engineers to repair it. So I was checking on it last evening from the side of CR120 that runs adjacent to the parking lot (it is closed off and locked. There was good water in the wetlands pond with several visible cormorants and a few Great Blue Herons loafing and feeding there. Then I spotted this TRICOLORED HERON, a big rarity in Colorado and a species that has been present in this wetland area during several previous summers including this one last year. At the several hundred foot distance my photo does show the white belly and long neck with some view of the white foreneck found on this species. You can click on the photo to enlarge it for a closer view. Due to the closure anyone now wanting to see this rare TRICOLORED HERON will have to do what I did--view it with a spotting scope from the side of the county road. And it requires a lot of care as many large rock carrying trucks drive fast by here all day every day except only a few on Sunday. SeEtta

Holcim Wetlands closed due to breach of river bank by high water in Arkansas River


I took these photos on June 12. Here is an aerial shot and one from the road of Holcim Wetlands just east of Florence that I got with my smartphone cam this evening. Richard Miller posted day before yesterday that he saw a Least Bittern in this location where that rarely found bird has been documented breeding for several years. Unfortunately it has been closed for an undetermined period due to the unusually high running Arkansas River that was just over 30 feet from the wetland pond just a day or so ago broke through the bank and bisecting the trail. As can be seen in both photos there is still plenty of water in the wetlands pond but Holcim Cement which owns this location has closed it for safety reasons so please respect their decision. I am working with Holcim to get this damage stabilized as it is possible that the river will take out more land area. I told Holcim at the Comm Advisory Committee meeting tonight that many birders will be anxiously awaiting re-opening as the Least Bittern is a very sought after bird. SeEtta

Working on Colorado State Water Plan past 6 weeks

Sorry for the extended absence.  I kept thinking maybe in a few days I can get back to posting but didn't work out.  I am the environmental rep on the Arkansas Basin Roundtable in Colo that plans for water for our entire river basin.  And we have been pushing hard to get a draft of our Basin Implementation Plan together as it is due at the end of July. 

Meantime it was migration and nesting season for birds here so I have been spending time with them.  I have taken many photos but something had to give and that was uploading, processing and posting photos here.  I also haven't been posting to my state's birding listserve.

Still up to my ears in conservation work but most of migration is over and the intensive following I do with hybrid phoebes is letting up so have a little time to do this.  SeEtta