Friday, July 31, 2009

Larking About - Sparrow Style!

After work yesterday the clouds began to break up a bit. To be fair my office is close to the foothills and got rain and heavy overcast all day - I think just a bit east the weather was much nicer all day. Yet another cool thing about close proximity to mountains, micro climates and ever changing weather!
Anyway, I took a drive back to the moose area in Broomfield, still no luck but I wasn't expecting any at that point. Instead I headed to an undeveloped area with park access near the Northwest Parkway. I took a walk through some semi developed acreage. It is a weird bit of land where apparently the housing boom planned a neighborhood, and now hasn't built any homes, leaving an area that had been graded and "improved" to sit idle for a few years.
Thanks to the rain there was a heavy flow through a drainage ditch stream, and some oddly overdeveloped underpasses and walkways that don't connect to anything. Weeds are already beginning to break concrete, and fancy lightposts have shifted off vertical. Leaving me to find these oddities and wonder, and hope, that they can remain known to the just the handful of folks who get off the beaten track for even a few years more.
Another Swainson's Hawk (above) was there to keep an eye on me. The sun broke through to catch it, with the still lingering dark thunderheads for a backdrop.

While I walked I was treated to constant entertainment by what I believe to have been a group of 4-6 young Western Kingbirds. They seemed to be practicing flight displays and territory disputes, and would go all out for a few seconds. Then in a blink they would settle down together to preen or relax, sometimes all sharing the same branch. I found a convenient rock to keep the seat of my pants clean and watched for a few minutes. It was a great level of activity for relaxing, they would call - much like prairie dogs, and perform their displays. I have often seen solo kingbirds hawking insects, but to see so many all engaged in a variety of activities was a real show. It is what made me think that they were a group of youngsters, likely with a few adults showing them the ropes, who were learning and practicing the skills that they will need to thrive throughout their lives. Very engaging.

Soon I was on my way though, and glad that I was. Had I stayed watching the kingbirds I would have missed out one of the more colorful sparrows around - the Lark Sparrow.

I had to do a bit of work to get past it, and then return along the trail with the sun coming from behind. Even so it was fairly tolerant of my approach. I wish my focusing had done the contrast in that face justice. A species that I am glad to have enjoyed in the field, and one that will make a return visit to that particular bit of wasteland a priority for me.
2009 Count: 171
Lifetime: 181

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