Saturday, April 21, 2018

Colorado Day 2 (26Mar2018)

Day 2 of my Colorado adventure started well positioned in Craig, CO.  I had obtained coordinates from an unnamed source for a good Greater Sage Grouse lek and somehow convinced my family to wake at 5am to go witness this amazing display.  We arrived well before light and while my family watched a movie in the car, I walked around listening for signs of grouse.  It was very cold but after a short walk I started hearing them.  The bubbling display calls are remarkable and instantly transported me to a world unknown to me.


Two males face off while the covey of females watch or feign disinterest.


The filling of the airsacs and strange dance had me staring more than the females.


I was able to get my family out and we all watched the scene in awe.












Ummmmm...... That's some serious chicken breast.


I should have taken more scenery shots too. A beautiful place.


Plenty of game backed up the signs we saw entering Craig as the sportsman's heaven.


But as usual I was more interested in the birds.  Horned Lark.


Sandhill Crane


Sage Thrasher


Pronghorns


Our next destination was the Black Canyon of the Gunnison which is Colorado's version of the Grand Canyon.  Of course on the way I had to hit the brakes a few times.


Common Mergansers


Mountain Bluebirds abounded.


Townsend's Solitaire in the Black Canyon.


Cassin's Finch!!!



Cassin's Finch female.



Spotted Towhee


Woodhouse's Scrub Jay



This river at the bottom of the canyon undoubtedly had some American Dippers but the trails to the bottom were still closed for the winter due to icy conditions.


Common Raven


"Nevermore"


Not sure about the species of Prairie Dog.


Mountain Bluebird


I heartily recommend the Black Canyon.  I plan on going back.

More Colorado fun in another post.  I'm hungry and need to raid the fridge.

Thursday, April 19, 2018

(08Apr-19Apr2018) Prime Time

It's getting really good now for migrants.  Here are some birds from the past couple weeks.  I have not gone anywhere special due to the in laws being in town, but I am going to the mountains next week and plan to clean up all the warblers.


Yellow-throated Warbler at Burnt Mill Creek


Barred Owl at BMC


Cattle Egret at the old Monk Parakeet stakeout in Northwest



Chimney Swift at Lock and Dam


Swallow-tailed Kite at Blue Banks Rd.  Usually I have to lurk around 3-4 times around Blue Banks to get a STKI, but this was only my second drive through.





Chimney Swift


There have been tons of gulls and terns on the North end of Wrightsville but I have not seen the Black-headed Gull.  Lots of Bonaparte's with hoods.


Least Tern


This Royal Tern gave me some trouble as the bill was super red and there was more dark underwing than over wing but the lack of a dusky tip was problematic.  I suspect that Caspians are over reported at the North End.  As well as Long-billed Dow.



Bonaparte's Gull with full hood.


Forster's Terns need to be more closely scrutinized this time of year as they are missing the eye patch.






Sandwich Tern!


Last week I had a short business trip to Raleigh Durham and I managed to work in an early morning visit to the NC Botanical Garden at Chapel Hill.


The resident Louisiana Waterthrush couple was holding court over the stretch of creek that passes by the garden.



Pine Siskin!  They have been few and far between in the triangle this year.



After my work obligation I swung by Mid Pines to avoid the traffic on the 40 and found this Vesper over by Chi Rd.



Saturday George had a game up in New Bern, so I planned a trip to get my Long-billed Curlew at Shackleford and then head over to the field in New Bern to watch the game.  The plan went off without a hitch.


Royal Terns courting.  This guy offered this young lass a tasty fish.


I am not sure what it is, but every time I see a Sandwich Tern I start to get hungry.


Tons of Whimbrels feeding in the mud flats kept throwing me off in my LBCU search.


Long-billed Curlew - after searching the mudflats for over an hour, I crossed to the beach and there it was all alone on the beach.


Cinnamon underwing is a great field mark.


Little Blue Heron




Eastern Kingbird at ILM Observation area.


Osprey


Caspian Tern at Twin Lakes in Sunset Beach.



See the dusky bill tip?



Fox Squirrel black morph.





Black-bellied Plover at Ocean Isle Beach.


Gull-billed Tern at OIB




Lesser Black-backed Gull



Finally I was able to do a quick visit to my favorite coastal plain warbler spot of Howell Woods yesterday.  It was soooooo nice to hear all my friends back from the tropics.  The orchestra of bird song was amazing.


Hooded Warbler


Swainson's Warbler



Wood Thrush - my favorite all time song for NC breeders is Wood Thrush.  Ethereal!  I heard 5-6 of them singing yesterday.


Summer Tanagers also were singing up a storm.

Life is good...