Monday, March 16, 2009

Big Dry Creek - DFO Field Trip

Because who wants to waste a beautiful Saturday sitting on their butt?

OK, for that guy sitting on his butt is probably well earned. In a world where hawks, snakes, and coyotes all want to eat you getting a few minutes of relaxed sun time must be a rarity. For me it was not OK, and I joined up with my first DFO field trip group.
This was the first time that I had been a part of a large group session to seek out the birds, and it was a good experience.
I intentionally chose a trip in an area where I frequently visit to see just how much I have been missing along the way. It was reassuring after the fact to know that I really haven't been missing too much. There was one fun exception though, a Yellow-Rumped Warbler, aka "Butter-butt". It was moving around fairly high in a cottonwood, and the bin views were much better than the resolution I could get from the camera. So everyone will just have to take my word that it was there.
Instead check out this nice view of a Great-Horned Owl.

I knew these were in the stretch of habitat, but my previous visits hadn't generated one for a sighting. Fortunately one of the benefits of a large group is the "fortuitous flushing". In this case a group that had split off to another side of a wooded area happened to flush the Great Horned, and he perched in a tree just ahead of my position. He stayed for a bit, long enough to pose from all angles and then flew back to his original perch.
From that perch it was easy to see why these large birds are so difficult to pick out, even when there general location is known:
Other highlights in the area were a pair of Sharp-shinned hawks who met in mid-air and made a few passes with one another in a shared thermal. and this pair of Red-tails who were sharing a branch together and occasionally seen engaged in nest building activities.

This was the second of three paired up Red-tails I have seen since last Friday. Until last fall I had never really been looking, but seeing the birds pairing up is neat. In this picture the female is on the right. Raptor species feature larger females and smaller males. This shared perch is a good place to compare the size difference between the two.

We also had two good views of Kingfishers along the trail. This background was a bit busy, but in the blog the view I had of one perched in the foreground of the Rockies would have looked like a sharp-edged speck.

Sometimes there is nothing better than scratching an itch you just can't reach.

Three new species on the day, Yellow-Rumped Warbler, Greater Scaup (I have probably been seeing these, but did not know for certain until more experienced trip members helped to show the difference), and Cinnamon Teal.
No great pictures of any of the three, but I'll keep looking.
2009 Count: 69
Lifetime: 96

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