Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Monday at the Marshes

I wanted to get back up to the Cottonwood Marsh, Sawhill Ponds, Walden Pond area in Boulder now that the migrants are arriving. Monday, being the day I get off work at 3:00 was the perfect opportunity.
Before heading up I checked the recent emails that referenced the location and knew that both Mew Gulls and Black Phoebes had been spotted recently. I did a quick lookup on each so that I would be prepared to identify them if I saw them. (I didn't see either, but it seems like a good way for me to prepare for trips, and learn about likely species before I see them.)
At the entrance to the complex I was checking the Cottonwood Marsh mudflats for shorebirds when a couple passed me and told me that if I wanted to take pictures I should head over a couple of lakes to one where 50 or so Pelicans were feeding.
The complex is large - there are many different lakes, marshes and woodlots to explore. As such it is always nice to get a target destination right off the bat. I headed over and sure enough there were a large group of Pelicans feeding in the lake.

I initially counted 66, and another dozen arrived in pairs or solo while I was watching. Carry a camera and binoculars around a nature preserve and you will quickly find that others in the area immediately consider you an expert....either that or they were testing me. I started getting questions about how long the Pelicans would stay, and whether or not the American White Pelican was the largest bird in Colorado.
Anybody know the answer to that one? I said that I wasn't sure, but that some of the swans or cranes may be larger.

The Pelicans were fun to watch, and I hope that some of them hang around. This one successfully caught a fish and was happy to show it off.

Just to the north of the Pelicans I spotted a Great Horned on her nest, and just around the corner - west of the boundary - there was a fairly developed Great Blue Heron rookery. It looked like the pairs were still in nest building mode, but getting back there with some morning light will have to be a priority.

I spotted this bird from across a lake and despite being the first one I had seen in the wild I knew it immediately.

Osprey! When perched with their wings folded their white heads can look a bit like a Bald Eagle, but the black eye band/cheek patch gives them away, as does their white belly from below. I really like this bird, and got the opportunity to direct a late arriving birder towards it as I was heading back to the entrance.

In an area like this heading back is an hour proposition, and I still had plenty of time to enjoy the American Wigeon seen here and all the other waterfowl as the sun sank.
I stopped by the spot where I had listed my first Great Horned Owl back in January, and there were two sitting in the next tree over. Back to back days seeing three Great Horneds, I am getting spoiled!

In addition to the great Owl, Pelican, and Heron sightings I added three new life birds on my trip. As well as the Osprey pictured above I got a Barn Swallow (not even close to pictured), and a Black-and-White Warbler (pictured but too small and far to show up well on the page). The day was very good, I got 35 species between three stops and just enjoyed a long enough afternoon that I could almost bird/hike 5 miles before it got too dark to continue.

2009 Count: 83
Lifetime: 107

1 comment:

  1. How nice to see this place again! You got some excellent shots of some spectacular birds. seeing your photos and reading your posts makes me want to move back there! BTW, I saw my first American bittern at Walden Ponds!