Sunday, January 25, 2009

Walden & Sawhill Ponds

Another great day at a location I found via the Colorado Field Ornithologists' Birding by County site. This time it was a pair of preserves in northeast Boulder called Walden and Sawhill Ponds respectively. They are managed by different agencies, and are separated by a small fence with multiple access points. For the wildlife they make one large habitat with numerous lakes, ponds and marshes.

After seeing many Ring-billed Gulls, Mallards, Canada Geese and American Wigeons I spotted a juvenile Bald Eagle soaring above me.
Later I saw two adults soaring hundreds of feet above a human glider being towed aloft by a prop plane. That would have made a great picture, but trees and distance prevented it.
I got over it quickly though when I finally spotted a Great Horned Owl. This has been my most frustrating species since I started listing. I had decent pictures of one last spring in the wild, and worked with them enough at Birds of Prey to have one mistake me for a tree, but had not seen one yet that I could confirm since last October. I knew that they were out there, and that when I did find one it would be closer than I expected.

Sure enough this guy was sitting directly behind me at eye level. When I first spotted him he was on my sunny side and I couldn't get much detail.

I gradually worked my way around him at a safe distance.

What a magnificent bird!

These two were swimming on a larger lake as the sun began to sink behind a storm cloud on the mountains, a good portrait of Ring-necked Ducks.
As I took their picture movement erupted across the lake.

Another Great Blue Heron!

Two on back to back days is a nice trend, hopefully this means more owls soon.
Immediately after I saw what may have flushed him, this cool looking intermediate Harlan's Red-tailed Hawk, (also pictured at top).

He would have had more than he could handle with a great blue, so perhaps they were flying coincidentally.....
either way I'll take it.

The contrasts in that bird are very nice.

An excellent place for birding, and the Great Horned is a nice add to the list.

2009 Count: 56

Lifetime: 86

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