Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Ivory-billed Woodpecker? Elephant Bird Eggs?

After grabbing a bite to eat last evening I went in to the museum to meet some of the DFO folks and watch the presentation “One Hundred Years (and counting) of the Denver Museum of Nature and Science’s Ornithological Collection” by Dr. John Demboski the Curator of Vertebrate Zoology.

It was a very cool presentation considering that my expectations of a museum curator talking about a collection were tempered by experience. Sometimes they can be a bit like listening to a musician practice their music. The causal listener can't necessarily discern the details that are so important to the person who has poured their soul into the work. Dr. Demboski was not like that at all. He was a sociable speaker and shared his enthusiasm for the treasures in the collection and the potential that it holds for our and future generations. He did a great job of expressing to a lay audience that a collection at a museum does not just have to be static "old stuff".

Dr. Demboski tied in the early history of the museum with the levels of collected specimens over the decades. The peak growth periods were between the 1920s and 1940s, (think Indiana Jones era collectors). During the 1970s the additions to the collection essentially stopped, and no significant growth occurred. The historian in me, (my major in college) was going nuts - history and birding doesn't happen every day!

Of course Dr. Demboski has his priorities for the museum’s collection moving forward, and as expected he would like to reverse the downward trend of new specimen additions. He has a positive attitude towards technology and the non-traditional benefits that museum can have for the community at large.

These primarily relate to digitizing the collection catalogue, and the use of “deep freeze” preservation for tissue specimens to keep DNA samples available. These are not the stuffed, mounted displays we think of from our general public visits to similar museums, but are ironically of more value to researchers as they can contribute more to statistical analysis.

During the lecture I also learned that mounts and skins prepared in the early 20th century were all heavily coated in arsenic, and as such are technically hazardous materials. While they must now be treated with care to avoid human contamination the arsenic continues to do its job of preventing pests from infesting those mounts. The current practice for pest control in the collection is to monitor for any signs of infestation, and if a presence is detected – to deep freeze the specimen for a period of two weeks. This keeps the specimens pest and damage free, without the pesky side effects of poisoning or chemical contamination of the specimen.

This brings me back to the title of this post, some of the cool items that Dr. Demboski had on display for our group. There were study skins from the late 19th century of an Ivory-billed Woodpecker, and a similar and also feared extinct relative, the Imperial Woodpecker; as well as a Pileated for comparison. There was the sample that was studied to confirm the species status of the Gunnison Sage-Grouse and used in the documentation. Among the other interesting specimens was the 5000 year old semi-mineralized egg of the extinct Elephant Bird of Madagascar. It was literally the size of a larger than normal watermelon. The museum has two of the 16 known eggs from this species, which are the largest known eggs in the history of Earth. Very unique and very cool to have seen.

Dr. Demboski requested our assistance, and I will pass along the request to all of you to help the museum gather more samples. As the age of hunting expeditions to foreign lands has passed, and we now see more value in keeping a species alive in its habitat than stuffed in a collection warehouse, the sources of new specimens have diminished. However there is still a value in preserving those animals that have been found deceased. A current pool of specimens, and continued collections into the future will lay the groundwork for comparative research on habitat and diet change, and the continued viability of these collections in years to come. So, if you come across a deceased bird that was road-kill or suffered a window strike consider freezing it and contacting the Denver Museum of Nature and Science or a museum in your area.

In addition the DFO is also continuing its efforts towards getting Denver to join the Audubon Society's Lights Out campaign where owners of skyscrapers turn off their external illumination lights between 11pm and 5am during peak migration periods. Chicago's Lights Out Program has shown real results, with an estimated 10,000 building strikes avoided each year.

The program really capped a phenomenal afternoon of bird related activities.

South Boulder Creek & Denver Birding

Monday at lunch-time I headed up to Boulder, to check along South Boulder Creek and the southwest corner of Baseline Reservoir. There wasn’t much in the way of exciting species, but I did get to witness some cool behavior on the part of two Northern Flickers. When I first spotted them they were on opposite sides of the same tree trunk. For a few minutes I watched as they danced back and forth around the trunk. It was almost like a young child playing peek-a-boo around a centerpiece at a dining room table. After a bit, one of the two flew to another tree and began vocalizing in a different manner than I had heard previously. Those spring triggered hormones must be activating for the Flickers.
Being that Mondays are my early day at the office I had an early afternoon, and decided to use it in conjunction with the Denver Field Ornithologists meeting/presentation at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science.

My first stop was at the Denver Botanical Gardens. I have to say that I was a bit disappointed with my decision. I had been there once previously when my sister and her husband lived in Loveland and my parents were out visiting from Minnesota. At that time the gardens were obviously more interesting, and the entire area just seemed larger and more involved. The Koi above was as happy as a fish could be to have a visitor. Yesterday the gray skies, dead gardens and lack of people all made the site less interesting. Granted I did not spend any time in their indoor habitats, which I am certain I would have found more appealing in late winter, but I was looking for birds. There just wasn’t much to be seen, aside from the squirrels which had lost all fear of humans.

I did see a Red-tailed Hawk soar overhead, which was unexpected in such an urban area. As I was getting ready to leave I saw American Crows assembling in a murder to head off to roost. They just kept arriving from everywhere, and as the first to arrive headed west more were emerging from treetops and from behind buildings. It was very cool to watch.

I left before it started too get dark because I wanted to get to City Park with some remaining daylight. I had a specific target in mind, but had never really spent any time in City Park itself before. I have been to the Denver Museum of Nature and Science in the past, and knew that it was connected to a large park area which included the Denver Zoo, but that was the extent of my knowledge. I parked at the Museum and headed along the first lake towards Duck Pond. In the lawn just to the west of the museum building were two banded Geese in a crowd of many. There was a great variety of waterfowl in the first lake, and I stopped a few times to take pictures, but I was very aware of the setting sun, and needed to reach my destination before it got too dark for pictures. On the way I looked up into the trees that divided the Zoo from the Park and saw this:

Juvenile Red-tail Hawk

Urban raptors, what a deal! I did also see a Cooper’s Hawk fly right over my head, but being dusk it was too dark to track him for any pictures. Finally I did reach my destination and beheld:

Double-Crested Cormorants! Here is a closer view from the same pic:

I had no idea that there was a Double-Crested Cormorant rookery right in an urban park habitat until it was mentioned on the COBirds mailing list. Apparently the birds are still just arriving and will have totals in the hundreds at their peak. For the time being there were around 40 that I counted.

I did also see this unknown goose. After I had a chance to look it up I determined it was a Graylag Goose, which can be found wild in the Eastern Hemisphere, but here they are deemed released/escaped domestic birds and therefore uncountable.
Update 01/26/2010: After a return visit to the park and seeing two individuals I correctly identified Greater White-fronted Geese, and realized that I had made an incorrect ID last year.

Oh well, I did add the Double-Crested Cormorant and Coopers Hawk, not bad.

I walked back towards the museum in the growing darkness, and caught the novelty of sunset at City Park, lions snorting and roaring as they welcome the dusk, their natural hunting time. Not to mention a view that has gotten a bit of Executive attention in the past week.

2009 Count: 63
Lifetime: 93

Sunday, February 22, 2009

Recovery at the Refuge

After my very enjoyable first day skiing this winter I had some lactic acid that was screaming to get out of my calves. So I headed over to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge to do some walking. I love the drive in almost as much as anything about the Refuge. I head north from I70, through some light industrial area with warehouses and train-tracks. The four-lane road hits a "T" intersection at the gatehouse, and after pulling through the road is transformed into a two lane road in the prairie. Granted there is still a mountain of rubble left from the old Stapleton Airport runways, but even that is shrinking. The best part about the road is that generally you can take your time driving down it, and you never know what you are going to see before you even reach the visitor center. In the past I have seen Bald Eagles, herds of Deer, and Coyotes just as a kind of appetizer for what awaits in the refuge proper. Today I was looking left as I drove along slowly, and spotted a nest with what may have been a lump in it. I dug out my bins and sure enough there was a Great Horned Owl nesting within sight of the road. I grabbed my camera and got a few quick shots, but the nest was to far to be more than a large blob in a tree.
Being in my car I decided to try something that I haven't done much in the past. I pulled my 2X extension tube out and attached it to my lens. I was able to use my door frame as a solid rest for my arm and got a much more satisfactory image.

After getting a few frames I headed on to begin my actual walking part of my recovery effort. I started off in the same general direction that I normally follow, heading out across a floating bridge on Lake Mary, and then popping up to the road that overlooks Lake Ladora to see what there is in the way of waterfowl. Being mid-day it was not the bird paradise I have seen in the early mornings, but I did see large numbers of both Common Goldeneye and Canvasbacks, with a handful of Common Mergansers thrown in for good measure.

While watching the Lake I enjoyed a Northern Harrier hunting on the far side, out of camera range, but a fun show through the bins. I walked South and East away from the lakes and through open fields and low shrubby growth. There was not much bird activity, but I did see two Bald Eagles ascending a thermal, and two Red-tailed Hawks perched at the top of a large tree. As always I was surrounded by deer, near the lake I had six Mule Deer casually walk behind me through an open field, and later I passed another group lounging under trees.

I crossed back to the East and returned to my car via the Prairie Trail. Unfortunately the clouds were filling in, and aside from the Prairie Dog town there wasn't much activity to be seen. It was a beautiful day for a hike though. I love that in Colorado you can be carving turns in fresh snow one day, and be warm on an easy hike the next. Spring is close at hand in our urban prairie refuge.

Finally as I drove back out I caught site of a Kestrel with prey. I made a quick stop to soak in another great moment at the Rocky Mountain Arsenal.

2009 Count: 61
Lifetime: 91

Blue Sky Day at Breckenridge

I think the Summit County Chamber of Commerce got together and decided to make me realize what I had been missing this winter.
I spent a beautiful, mild, calm day at Breckenridge. Anyone who has visited knows that even on the most mild of days the tops, if not all of Breckenridge's four peaks are assaulted by constant wind. Yesterday that wind was a mild breeze, which was nice at the tops of lift rides to keep everyone cool in the sunshine.
Birding was not my primary focus, as I was catching up with some old friends, and making sure I did not get ahead of myself and ski to aggressively on my first day back. I did get out for a walk in the morning before everyone was ready to leave, and enjoyed the activities of 40 or so Mountain Chickadees busy in the trees.

On the mountain I was more limited, both Ravens and Crows made their way through town and over the runs, but there wasn't much beyond that. Until that is we pulled into one of the lodges, Tenmile Station, at the end of the day. While on the deck I was treated to 6 Gray Jays who were working over the leftovers from many skiers' lunches.

The Gray Jay was a new species for me, so I had a phenomenal day all in all.

2009 Count: 61

Lifetime: 91

Friday, February 20, 2009

Windy Week Wrap

This is going to be quick for two reasons, after the Dipper there was not much blog-worthy birding in my world, and two I am about to dash home and head from there to Breckenridge for my first skiing of the year. Horrible I know. The twenty something deep inside hates me for not getting up before late February.
Tuesday began the wind, but I had an update from a fellow Broomfield birder that he had seen a Cinnamon Teal in Plaster Reservoir over the weekend, so I rushed over on my lunch to see if it was still around. If it was I didn't see it, instead it was lots of wind, and a harried lunch.

This American Coot was riding the whitecaps.

Last evening I had another go at the Cinnamon Teal, it had been so windy that I would not have been surprised to have missed it in plain sight. It was still absent though, so I had to make do with singing birds and a less windy pleasant evening.

This Song Sparrow kept well back in the vegetation, but some of his mates began to sing.
Red-Winged Blackbirds were singing everywhere.
The irony was not lost that I was enjoying an evening full of signs of spring before heading home to dig out my ski gear from all of last year's hiding spots.
Today at lunch I was looking for shelter from the wind again, so I headed to Eldora Canyon State Park for lunch. It was a bust, but I did spot a Slate-Colored Junco at a trail-head on the way back.
At first I did not even know that it was a Junco, it seemed to long, and light. After looking at the pics more closely I knew it was a Junco, and then noted that it had white wingbars.
From there I did some searching on the White-winged variety, and found that they are larger, and a paler shade of gray. Both of those attributes were what had kept me from initially nailing the id as a Junco in the first place. I guess at least I am getting better at noticing essential differences, even if they are not clear to me at the time.
Now I am off to the mountains, hopefully some good high elevations species while I am there.
2009 Count: 60
Lifetime: 90

Monday, February 16, 2009

The Entertainer

Admittedly I am no expert birder. Far from it, I am a newbie, who makes up for a lack of knowledge and experience with enthusiasm and technology. I am approximately 100 days in to listing the birds I have been able to identify. For a large part the birds I have found have either been ones that I had already known of, or ones that others have notified me of, either directly, or through email.
There has been one bird that I had not been familiar with at all until I began to educate myself about species. The bird is the American Dipper, and I first read of it in the Brdpics Archives. I have been intrigued since I first read about the songbird that "flies" underwater in fast moving mountain streams. How cool did that sound. Since I read about it I have had limited opportunities to even look for the bird, but it has remained in the back of my mind as something I just had to see for myself.

So this afternoon I headed to Boulder Canyon to see if I could find any Dippers. I walked the twenty or so feet to the creek and began to look....not really sure exactly what I was supposed to see. I began to slowly work my way downstream, and not only did I not see a Dipper, I didn't see any birds.

Sometimes coming straight from work I find that I am not in tune with my environment, so I pulled off to the side and stopped looking. I just soaked in the sounds of the creek, and the beautiful afternoon. After a minute or two I began to "pish" the creek to see if there were any birds on the far bank. Immediately I got a response, and scanned to find it. There right below my nose was my target, the American Dipper.

This is one of the most cool birds to watch that I have ever seen. It works the fast moving water by standing, and get this... dipping its head below the water.

Then it would swim, jump, walk and fly its way between various rocks and underwater perches. So very cool to see live. Seeing one I thought I was locked in and would have nothing but birds from there on, but it was not to be. After starting with a lifer in the first ten minutes I saw two Rock Pigeons and a single Raven high overhead. All the same, this afternoon will be memorable for a long time to come, a day when spring was in the air and an expectation was far exceeded.
To top it all off, I swung by Baseline Reservoir on the way home to soak up as much of the lengthening daylight as I could. It was a beautiful evening, and two Common Goldeneye were the only creatures visible on the calm lake surface.

2009 Count: 60

Lifetime: 90

Sunday, February 15, 2009


Getting out on a dreary weekend can be tough. I was glad I forced myself to endure the cooler weather and drab skies over the past few days.

Friday evening I swung by Stearn's Lake, but decided to hike through the Preserve area and Open Space instead of looking at the geese in low light. I was greeted by a curious calf.

I then got to watch a Red-Tailed Hawk having supper.

The light degraded even more, so I abandoned the camera and just enjoyed walking in the open countryside. As I returned I checked some trees where I thought I had seen a Great Horned Owl on an early morning in January, but had not had enough of a view to be sure. This time I was fortunate to see him perched on a branch before he took flight for his evening hunt. Seeing an owl always makes time outside exciting.

Yesterday I had time, so despite the heavy clouds I decided to see where inspiration would lead me. I stopped by Lower Church Lake and saw the Trumpeters again. They were present along with tow cars of people watching them. I stopped for a bit, waved to the others who were there, and then decided to head on to Stanley Lake Park.

There were some Sparrows and Finches near the parking area, and this Rock Pigeon appeared undeterred by the giant fish above his head.

The lake was very quiet. I did get to continue my now apparent trend of seeing Ring-billeds eating crayfish.

He seems to be enjoying the snack.

I ended up on the far side of the lake, which had even fewer birds, there were two coyotes that passed a land bridge to an island.

Coyotes are getting a lot of bad press in the Denver metro area, and the media is full of proposed culling methods. I do understand population management issues, and that regulation is required at times. I grew up in Minnesota where for a time White-tailed Deer in the Minneapolis metro area seemed more numerous than rabbits. On the other hand it frustrates me that individuals blame the Coyote for attacking small pets. Personal accountability seems so unpopular these days. Despite the good time at the lake the leaden skies were getting to be a bit much, but Colorado offers a great solution....mountains!

Late afternoon didn't give me a large window, but I did get up to the Crescent Meadows section of Eldorado Canyon State Park. It was one of those quick moments that really makes me appreciate Colorado. A quick drive got me up 1500 feet, and above most of the clouds. I hiked up to the top of an outcrop and settled in to enjoy the sunset. While I was there I had what I thought was a Townsend's Solitaire perch in a treetop just above me. He was up sun from me, but I took a few frames while I had the chance. Despite the poor light conditions, the picture showed that this was not a Solitaire. Look at the shape of the bill:

It is a Northern Mockingbird. Correction - it is a Clark's Nutcracker, the Northern Mockingbird was a bad seasosnal fit, but I didn't think of the Clark's and as I had not seen it previously it did not pop into my mind immediately. A bit out of range, but fun to see that the sunshine was enjoyed by all sorts of species.

As the sun dropped I quickly headed back down the hill, and made one last pass by the Trumpeters on my way home.

Glad I made it outside!

2009 Count: 59
Lifetime: 89

Friday, February 13, 2009

Cool Diversion

© 2009 Xcel Energy

It is well known that Xcel Energy has been doing good things for bird nesting for many years. While I wouldn't consider myself a bird cam junkie, I have always taken note of the releases related to the project.
As a kid growing up in Minnesota my home was in fairly close proximity to the Blackdog Station on the Minnesota River, and now I live just outside Boulder, CO; close to the Valmont Station. The webcams are always fun, but I especially enjoy the two that I can envision in their environment. Knowing what the weather is like outside the box adds to the intrigue of watching for the success or failure of the Owl nest this year.

I think this picture is great for summarizing the update on the owl cam for the moment. The two eggs are visible, and it appears that the male has brought in the produce from his hunt. Incubation seems to be going normally from what I can tell. From a quick look through the past 24 hours the eggs have only been unattended for around 30 minutes in that time. The Xcel Bird Cam season has begun to get interesting, so be sure to check them out periodically to see how the various nests progress this year.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Pictures: 02/11/2009

Two pictures from last night's visit to the Ferruginous.


Such a change when viewing from a different angle.
2009 Count: 88
Lifetime: 58

Ferruginous Fortune

Yesterday was headed for a bust. The snow had left, and the temps were mild with a less significant breeze. I took my lunch at the Coal Creek Trail, where I had seen the Red-Tail circle overhead recently, and hoped that I would get a couple of good pics while I was out. What I saw were 14-16 Rock Pigeons and a lone Northern Flicker. I heard the constant howl of the wind that blew up out of nowhere and the roar from the highway. It was brutal. At one point I thought I heard a distinctive song from some bushes, but the wind tore it apart and made me unsure where it was coming from. Very frustrating.

Just before leaving I rechecked my CObirds email, and found to my surprise that a Ferruginous Hawk had been reported less than 6 blocks from my home! These hawks are one of my favorites. They are large, and essentially two-toned. From the back they are a mottled mix of rufous and brown, with a touch of white. From the front they are mostly white with a grayish head. Also, they are less common than Red-Tails or Eagles, as such I haven't seen one in the wild since I started keeping a list last October. The bust of a day had been averted!

I got to the reported location at about 5:20 last evening, and it was still light enough to see clearly, (finally). I knew what I was looking for, and even so I dismissed my first glance from a distance as a white plastic bag that had gotten caught up high in a cottonwood. One more careful look was all I needed to confirm that it was in fact the Ferruginous. Unfortunately when I got home I had to deal with some laptop issues, so those pictures are sitting unseen at home. I imagine that they will have suffered from the lower light, but hopefully I will have an update with the lighter front side of this great bird.

I knew that with an eastern exposure the Ferruginous would be well lit at sunrise, so I planned for a return visit on my way to work this morning. Spectacular, I love it when a day starts this well!

Buteo Regalis (royal hawk)

2009 Count: 58

Lifetime: 88

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

A Beautiful, Breezy Afternoon

After my trip to see the Trumpeter Swans Monday morning I was fired up and hoped for some more good birds after work. I did want to avoid as much of the wind as possible though. So I headed over to the Greenlee Preserve at Waneka Lake. There is a mile trail looping the lake, and the preserve has a wooden deck overlooking an adjacent marshland and pond. It is tucked into some trees - well sheltered from the wind. I fought the wind across the open areas surrounding the lake to get to the preserve, and then soaked in the peace and calm of the sheltered overlook. It was great!
The wind was clearing the air, and the sun was low enough to generate some good light - and frustrating shadows. I remained on the observation platform for an hour or so, enjoying all the sights and sounds I could, and relishing being back outside after the 4 days of sick. Nature was putting on a great show that afternoon. A group of Juncos were on one side of me as I arrived, and a pair of Downie Woodpeckers were working through the trees on the other. Robins, Chickadees, and House Finches all were busy around me; apparently they enjoyed the calm in the trees as well. Shortly after I got there a Red-tail, likely this one, took off from a spot further down on my side of the pond and made a slow circuit before settling on one of the far side trees. Red-winged Blackbirds were scattered throughout the reeds, displaying their epaulets and singing in the setting sun.
My photography was unproductive. The shadows of the tree limbs and thick branches made many shots cluttered, and many birds dark. It was one of those days where anything at a distance was in good light, and anything close was not. Even this Song Sparrow working an open area in the marsh grass was partially obscured.

That sun sure was nice, and down in the grass he wasn't feeling the wind at all.

Not the best pic of these Green-Winged Teal taking off, but the light caught the namesake green patch on the trailing edge of the male's wing.

Mmmmm! Tasty! I'm not certain what the main course was for this Ring-billed, but it looks suspiciously like a crayfish or shrimp head.

So I didn't add any more species, and there were no spectacular images captured, the day was beautiful despite the wind. Now that the Colorado weather has turned wintry again it is very nice to have a springlike memory from just two days ago.

2009 Count: 57

Lifetime: 87

Monday, February 9, 2009

Trumpeter Swans

I made my return to the land of the living today. Once I had gotten settled in I checked the COBirds emails that had piled up to see what I had missed over the weekend. Sure enough there were continuing discussions of the Geese on Stearn's Lake, which Bill Schmoker summarized and provided insight on at his blog, Brdpics.
In addition there was a report that 5 Trumpeter Swans had stopped on a lake minutes from my house. It was in fact a place that I had driven around when I ventured out to run two errands yesterday. I read on to see that people had been confirming their presence throughout the weekend up through mid-day Saturday, and then had gone silent. I was kicsking myself for missing the opportunity, but decided to run by on my lunch to see if by any chance they were still around.
Fortunately for me, they were! I got relatively close, and had an opporunity to watch them for a bit. They are huge!
There were no Canada Geese around to compare sizes, but my feel is that their relaxed necks are about the same height as a stretched Greater Canada. I could be wrong, but they sure do seem big.
The wind was both a blessing and a curse. It kept them close to the west bank, which was convenient to the road, but made it virtually impossible to hold the camera still and focus.

The 30-40 mph winds are supposed to continue, so I will not try again this afternoon. Maybe it will be more calm tomorrow.

2009 Count: 57

Lifetime: 87

Saturday, February 7, 2009


I feel a bit like the barn above. A little off kilter to say the least. Despite being the victim of the latest bug to make the rounds I did manage to get out for a short drive Friday afternoon in Weld county.

This Harlan's Hawk was trying to hold on to his feathers in the strong winds that were blowing across the plains Friday afternoon.

He was back in his element once he took to the air. I also saw an adult and juvenile Bald Eagle, and three Northern Harriers. Unfortunately no pics of those. My previous posts on the Norhtern Harriers have paid off. The tell-tale white rump patch really stands out when I look for it. I also saw these Eurasian Collared Doves perched on the wires. They are in the midst of a population explosion, having until recently been quite rare in this area.

2009 Count: 56
Lifetime: 86

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Weather & Goose Update

This Red-Winged Blackbird had to adjust his perch this morning to accommodate some early season buds.

Bring the kid, simple things like spring buds deserve to be shared on a beautiful morning, even if technically it is still winter.

I returned to Stearn's Lake last evening and again this morning because of all the Chen Goose excitement. Chen is a family of goose that includes Emperor, Snow, and Ross's Species. It is amazing that experienced birders can come to the same lake that I visit and pick out many more abnormal species than I ever detect, but then those are probably the same people who can identify minutiae on a Gull to determine what species and age it is. I am nowhere near that level, and for those people, picking out a rare goose must be a nice change of pace.

I must content myself with my camera and bins, they certainly give me enough identification challenges at this point. So I checked the lake again with better light on my way to work. Two of the three Snow Geese were around, with the white one hanging out even closer to shore this morning.

Perhaps his pose indicates the attitude he has to all the attention that is being paid to his "blue" counterparts. Anthropomorphic I know, "butt" really, watch out where you point that thing buddy! After I took his picture a few times his ego must have been satisfied. He resumed a much more proper pose for a dignified goose.

The "blues" continue to draw interest to Stearn's Lake. I caught one of them while I was there this morning.

I believe that he is the same Snow Goose that has been causing ID questions for me all year. At least he seems to think all the people around are worth a laugh, or maybe they are just preventing him from sleeping in.

Two posts already this morning, and I am just off for my mid-day walk. I even saw the Bald Eagle perched in the trees across from my office earlier today, and that was just going for a cup of coffee. Hopefully other good things await.

2009 Count: 56

Lifetime: 86

Jump for Joy!

Its warm and not windy! Like this junco I am feeling the spring-like weather, and it is nice.

For my walk during yesterday's lunch I headed back to the Coal Creek Trail. This time I went to the Superior side of highway 36, about a half mile from the stretch I had visited last week. I approached from an ice arena parking lot, and saw the hawk above perched in a distant tree.
Since he was a good ways off and sitting I headed on towards the creek where it emerged from passing under a four lane road.
I poked around a bit and saw some Rock Pigeons and a pair of Cottontails. I came back out from the underpass, and saw the Red-tail rising on some thermals. He seemed as interested in me as I was in him and after he had gained a bit of elevation he made two passes directly overhead.

The light was great for capturing the underwing details as he rose. He must have determined that I was no snack, and not much of a threat, because he worked his way back over to the trees. He made one quick pass, rolling his wings to vertical as he sliced his way between the branches.

So effortless! If only they would just do that in the open air without trees in the way. He made another loop and then pulled up to perch on a branch. A very nice way to enjoy a lunch break.

2009 Count: 56

Lifetime: 86