Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Hiking the Loop at Goshawk Ridge

Sometimes my attempts at birding put me firmly in my place as a novice, and sometimes that is just fine with me.
Yesterday afternoon was just such a time. I made a last second decision to hike in the Eldorado Mountain Open Space. I did this based on an email received from a member of the CObirds mailing list who has lead me to that area in the past with reports of good sightings or rarities. Yesterday afternoon and evening my streak of not seeing what had been reported to me continued unabated, but the area and birds that I did see more than made up for it. But for a moment lets focus on a family that is still far from being manageable for me, the flycatchers.
The fellow (or female) above was sociable enough, and willing to pose in the dappled sun for a good shot. That said, I have no confidence trying to assign a species name. With each site I visit or guide I flip through I become more convinced that these little fliers will remain unidentified in the field for some time to come. Worse, they are drawing me to a point that I had hoped to put off for at least a year, the reality that I will need to begin to use my ears more for identification.

Oh well, for yesterday at least I can let the flycatcher IDs go as I focused on two new life birds that I did identify, and the great experience I had in an area that is quickly becoming one of my flat out favorites.

The first new add I yesterday was this Lazuli Bunting, makes me think of a tough guy - messed up Bluebird.

In the same area, ironically within tens of yards of the hotspot where I was hoping to add the rarity, I got identifiable shots of this female Black-headed Grosbeak. It was a species that I had to wait for an ID on, until I was able to check the guidebook.

Later, after I had completed my loop, I returned the half mile to the drainage to see if I could sight the target species. I ended up finding the male in the same area where I had previously spotted the female. His portrait suffered as the light faded making exposures take longer. The appearance is so close to the Spotted Towhee that I wonder if I have dismissed these guys in the past.
In addition to the two new species and another twenty plus that I picked up along the way, I did add a species to my Colorado list that I have been watching for all along. As I reached the summit of my hike, I was downwind. I paused as I waited for a lone Mule Deer to notice me, rather than walking right up on it. It slowly lifted its head and took a casual look at me. Then we both noticed movement to the east. The first of a dozen Wild Turkeys crossed the small trail and began working their way up the wooded hillside away from the poppy decked meadow. I found it interesting that the deer followed their lead, and joined the group as it moved off into the cover of the trees. Deer will often use one another as an early warning system. I guess that one decided to join a new herd since none of its own kind were about.

So there it is, one of my first group of Colorado Turkeys. I had such a good time that I know I will be back sooner rather than later, and when I do who knows, maybe I will have listened to a few Flycatcher songs before I head up, perhaps even the song of the yet to be named in this space target bird. I do know that I have all the makings for a non-bird post on this hike it was that good.
2009 Count: 163
Lifetime: 174

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