Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Eldorado Mountain Open Space - Boulder County

I got in two more walks yesterday, in two new sites, and added another pair of birds to my list, including the Blue-Gray Gnatcatcher (above).
I started at lunch by heading into Superior and checking Hodgson-Harris Reservoir to see if there were many shorebirds or waterfowl in the area. There wasn't a whole lot of activity, but there were 8 Double-Crested Cormorants snoozing on the shore.
I then decided to stop and check out a greenbelt I had seen previously, but hadn't yet visited. It is tucked just behind a grocery store and strip mall, but seems to have a good stretch of riparian habitat and a small pond where a pair of accommodating Pelicans landed as I walked by.
I made a quick dip into the shade of a Cottonwood where I was able to watch two lesser Goldfinches chasing in the brush. As always though, I had to break off and return to work - responsibility yeah!

Throughout the day I had been trading emails with a Boulder birder who had reported Lewis Woodpeckers on a trail close to the Doudy Draw area in Boulder County. I had him clarify the directions a bit and headed up for my evening walk.

It was a continuation of the great landscape I had described from my walk on Monday. The Eldorado Mountain Open Space is further west, and the road and trail I took runs along the first major ridge of the foothills, just south of Eldorado Canyon. I was on the east side of the ridge, and knew going in that the light would be poor, but it was so worth it. Climbing at dusk from a grassy meadow cut by a prime riparian stream, through a fire scarred area along the hogback, to the beginning of the Ponderosa Pine Forest habitat is just a great way to spend a spring evening.

I was on the lookout for the previously mentioned Lewis Woodpeckers and for any additional Owl species, but did not end up finding either. I was treated to a number of Steller's Jays moving their way up the ridge and to the aerial maneuvering of around 30 Chimney Swifts just above the ridge. They would catch the sunlight as they rose and then turn or dip back into shadow.

The swifts were cool, but about as easy to get a good photograph of as swallows. Someday.....

This is definitely a site to visit at sunrise, as the burned trunks of trees offer good habitat, and in full soft light should give even better photo ops. Not to complain though, because walking through the woods as they begin darken is spectacular. As I came back down I looked across the small valley to the ridge beyond and was scanning to see if I would catch any mammal activity in the better lit distance. I did see one, but it was not what I had been particularly thinking of....a skunk. I am glad there was a good distance separating that encounter!

2009 Count: 140

Lifetime: 153

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