Friday, August 14, 2009

Walker Ranch Afternoon Visit

On Tuesday afternoon I drove up to the Walker Ranch trailhead which has access to Eldorado Canyon State Park. I didn't have enough time for a long hike, but got to spend some time in the burn area between that trailhead and the Meyer's Homestead area. There was a good species mix, the most colorful of which was this Rufous Hummingbird.

It later showed off its balance and flexibility skills as it presumably scratched an itch or stretched out a stiff leg.

Do you think little creatures can't appreciate a view? With that seat the meadows and burned forest open up before him for some nice background during a snack.
Unfortunately Tuesday afternoon was tough for pictures, there were mixed amounts of cloud coming out of the west, and everything interesting seemed to stay up sun from me. That, and the bluebirds are all looking a bit drab in their worn plumage. **I just now learned a cool new fact. Mountain bluebirds molt in feathers with brown edges, which are gradually worn away. This leaves the males looking bright and fresh at the beginning of breeding season. Taken from BNA online:
"The feathers of both sexes have brownish-gray edgings that are worn away by the next breeding season, giving the appearance of the colors becoming brighter (Bent 1949)."
How smart and cool is that? What an adaptation! It makes sense to me though, bluebirds on returning to their breeding grounds are already in their fancy duds, without having to follow up an energy depleting migration with another taxing molt. All that just from normal wear and tear.
Another species whose pictures weren't worth posting here was a group of Violet-green Swallows. An add for my life list, but one that I will have to keep watching for to get some keeper pictures of.

Finally as I was driving back down Flagstaff Mountain I just had to stop for this roadside deer. I was shooting out my passenger window and it was literally three feet from my car!

2009 Count: 175
Lifetime: 183 **Corrected Count**
While reviewing my ebird data I found that I had reported a Black-throated Sparrow from my home in Broomfield, Colorado on December 16th of last year. There are so many reasons why that was incorrect, that I really don't need to check back to my photos to confirm that I was confused by a House Sparrow. Black-throated sparrows have never been reported in Broomfield, and while their breeding grounds do encompass western Colorado, any Black-throated Sparrow trying to breed in December would have been in big trouble.
I also noted that I had somehow not entered Pygmy Nuthatch from my June 8th sighting.

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