Thursday, July 30, 2009

Goin' on a Photographic Moose Hunt

Wilson's Phalarope

Last evening I caught the local news, and was amazed to hear that a moose was being monitored in my home town of Broomfield! In several recent posts I have mentioned moose. On an early June camping trip early risers were treated to a view of a moose cow walking just past the turn off to our camp, as I snoozed. Later, I was disappointed to learn that I had just missed a cow and calf on the western descent from Trail Ridge Road. Those I easily deal with, because I have seen moose in the past, and don't expect that I will see them each time I am out. It makes it that much more special when they are sighted.

Well one in my own back yard was too much to pass up, so I started out early this morning to see if I could catch a glimpse of what I believe is the second reported sighting in Broomfield since the species was reintroduced to Colorado.

Sadly, while I later confirmed that I was in the right area I did not see it. I was easily consoled by my stop at Prince Lake #1 in Boulder County on my way to work. The Wilson's Phalarope above was just the first lifer I had this morning as I braved the cool temps and varying precipitation of an October-like July morning.

California Gull

Also added to the list was this California Gull. It was in the mix with about 85 Ring-Billed Gulls, but was distinctly darker even from a distance. Anything not a Ring-Billed is a welcome sight for me, but I am still as novice as it gets in Gull ID. If anyone reading is sure I am incorrect after looking at these two pics, please don't hesitate to let me know.

If there is anything I am less sure of in identification than gulls, it would have to be shorebirds. For the Wilson's at the top of this post I am very confident. This last one is still a mystery to me as I type.

Update: After some quality time with "The Shorebird Guide" by O'Brien, Crossley, and Karlson I had a forhead smacking Spotted Sandpiper epiphany. Leaving the original text below because the notes I had on behavior were so indicative of this species. I have to get used to them losing their spots!

Granted I have only had my Peterson's Guide to Western Birds, (my bag book), to check so far. The coloring and bill length suggest Mountain Plover to me. When I checked BNA Online I found that they are rarely seen around water. While this species stayed more to the mud flats than the Killdeer that were all around, they were definitely in a shorebird area rather than the plentiful prairie and scrub habitats in the area. Then again with all the rain we have gotten in the past few days those habitats may be equally muddy, leaving the potential plovers to mix it up a bit and get some inter species socialization in while they have a chance. The two individuals I observed were much more mobile than other shorebirds. They seemed to be following clouds of flying insects in fairly straight lines across the shore. They moved quickly, and somewhat constantly without much bobbing or checking of the ground. Their size was close to the many Killdeer amongst whom they were moving, but they were more streamlined.

If this is a no brainer, or if you have a strong conviction about what this species is please feel free to leave a comment or send an email.

2009 Count: 170
Lifetime: 180

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