Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Fire and Fall Friends

Last things first. As I was returning to work from my lunch I looked up towards the Flatirons, trying to compose a shot that would show off the yellowing shrubs, when I saw this view:

I have seen one other fire in my life in forest land that was about the same size, I was in Junior High School, hiking to a lake high on the Grand Teton with a church group. Walking back down we saw a plume of smoke about that size and watched it grow as we descended. It became the giant fire that devastated a good portion of Yellowstone National Park. Needless to say I did a quick double take. I quickly noticed the shape of the fire though. Note how it has a wide base, fairly parallel to the flat ground. That is a good indication of a prescribed burn. In a normal fire without significant wind a fire will burn uphill. In that case I would expect a single low point, and an inverted funnel shape going upslope.
Even so, I checked the Boulder County OSMP closure page when I got back and confirmed that it had been planned for today and intentionally set.

Now for the birds, I took my time with these first two species and am as confident as I can be about the IDs, but if I am wrong please let me know. Above and below is an Orange-crowned Warbler. Unfortunately the branch was in the way, but oh well. Even without a clear look at the face profile the dark legs and presence of yellow under the bill seem to rule out a MacGillivray's Warbler.

Then, the ever challenging flycatcher species. I am thinking Willow Flycatcher after some back and forth.

The closer I look at Flycatchers the less certain I become, but this one seems to meet the Willow field marks, was hanging around in willows, and is in the same location where I have spotted Willow Flycatchers in the past. Seems like a compelling case to me, but if I have missed the obvious feel free to comment.

These two were both a part of a fairly large loose group of birds that I saw as I arrived, and then passed again as I returned up the trail and they moved south along the creek. The group included eight Black-capped Chickadees, one each of the Orange-crowned Warbler and Willow Flycatcher, and the White-breasted Nuthatch below that was just oozing personality and very intrigued by my "pishing".

Another great day to embrace the arrival of fall. I hope you all are doing the same!


  1. Howdee! Thanks for visiting my blog..
    I am enjoying yours! Colorado is an amazing place.
    I see also that you hiked the tetons..I had some amazing hikes there recently! Wonderful place.
    I added you to my blogroll. Hope to keep up with your posts! Happy birding!

  2. Thanks for visiting Dawn! Your traveling write ups keep the travel bug alive and well in me.