Thursday, August 11, 2016

Lark Buntings beginning to gather for migration

In southeast Colorado this past week I found several small groups of Lark Buntings including this one that appear to be gathering for migration. This is a female and I believe she is at least partially in her winter (definitive) plumage (per Birds of North America online, "Plumage similar to Definitive Alternate female, except in fresh plumage, pattern more blended, appearing less grayish brown and more strongly tinged with buff; middle secondaries (S4–S6) edged rusty; and chin without black.") SeEtta

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Olive-sided Flycatcher migrating through south central Colorado

8-14-16 correction--I stated below that landbird migration had begun but this was corrected by the following post on Cobirds listserv by Tony Leukering: <<< "While I typically like SeEtta's posts and blog, I have to disagree with her assessment of "landbird migration." Chipping Sparrows have been moving for more than a month, while Yellow Warblers, Lark Buntings, Bullock's Orioles, and an additional unknown number of Colorado-breeding species (but probably including all of the so-called "monsoon migrants"; see first link, below) have been on the move for 2-3 weeks (if not longer), now. As example, Lark Bunting does not breed in Arizona, yet migrants begin arriving -- even in southern Arizona, in late July, suggesting that migration was initiated sometime before then (see second link, below).">>> I spotted this Olive-sided Flycatcher this afternoon as it sallied out after insects at Brush Hollow State Wildlife Area just over 10 miles northeast of Canon City. Since this species does not breed in this lower elevation it has stopped over to feed on it's migration south. With indistinct wing bars it appears to be an adult bird with worn plumage (Sibley says they do not molt until they are on their winter grounds so adults have feathers almost a year old). Like many/most fall flycatchers it was silent but it's clear vested underparts, big head and short tail make it easy to id as an Olive-sided. Landbird migration has begun. SeEtta

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Showy Prairie Gentian, a field filled with this rarish native wildflower

I spotted these neat wildflowers several years ago in a pasture in Otero County that often has cattle grazing in it. After I found out these were rarish native plants I was going to try to learn more; but we went into drought conditions in southeast Colorado and though I have looked each year they did not grow again until this year.
And this year thanks to some good precipitation in that area they are flourishing. This is the largest area covered with them that I have seen.
The Colo Natural Heritage Program, which lists them in their rare plants database, describes their habitat as follows: "Along streams; in wet meadows, pastures, and fields; usually near old stream meanders or at the margins of lakes or ponds. Often in alkaline soils. Elev. 3500 - 6000 ft."
The map on the Colo Natural Heritage Program site does not show them in Otero County but it looks like it may not be updated as the most recent reference is 1989. I will make some inquiries to see if there is an updated map that shows this location.
The "Rare Plants of Colorado," Second Edition (1997) notes they were also called Tulip Gentian and I can see why as they do resemble tulips. The latin name for this species is Eustoma grandiflorum. SeEtta