Monday, March 15, 2010

Sharp Yard-bird

Sorry, not a single picture from this weekend to post. Just some general housekeeping updates and a few notes on things I am anticipating in the immediate and not-to-distant future.

First though, I had an awesome new yard bird while I was talking to my family back in Minnesota yesterday afternoon. I was looking out the back door at our miserable weather and saying good bye when something fairly substantial flew up into the neighbors' tree. It had a banded accipiter tail - and what appeared to be a snack in its clutches. A Sharp-shinned Hawk, right in my backyard! Hopefully, it hangs around in the area, because by the time I had gotten back to the door with my camera the bird was out of sight.

So far, I have held to my goal and spent my on-call week as a 'project' week. Various indoor and outdoor tasks have been completed, with my last major overhanging task being to complete and submit my taxes. This is only relevant because it explains the lack of updates, and because I have completed my upgrade to Windows 7 and added Photoshop Elements 8. That should lead to some more post processing on pictures and improve the overall quality a bit. At least some photo specific before and after posts should be coming down the pike.

Also on the photog side of the equation; some new gear is on order, and should be arriving shortly. I will finally have a legit tri-pod rig that will allow for some more tele-converter shots and may induce some blind and hide shooting. I am sitting on pins and needles waiting for my new Canon body to arrive as well. In addition to all the improvements that have been made since my 30D came along, I am really excited at the prospect of having a dedicated body with a second lens at the ready. Oh, the possibilities!

Tomorrow night I got to my first of two sessions to be certified for hunter safety in the State of Colorado. I am not sure that I will be going hunting anytime soon, although I am certainly not opposed to hunting in general, (I grew up in Minnesota where each fall half the population seems to vanish to the north each weekend for deer or pheasant or duck season). I can understand the perspective of those who would prefer not to participate, but I have great respect for hunters, and what their pooled dollars and interest mean for the wild places that I like to visit. I also strongly believe that most hunters are prime candidates to be cross-over wildlife observers. Imagine the data that would quickly pile up, if even a quarter of the licensed hunters used a tool like eBird to record their observations from the time they spend in the field. While I may not make any difference by my actions, at least I will be getting a first hand look at both sides of the fence, and besides, shooting is fun. The Eagle Scout inside me always wants to be responsible in such matters, and hunter safety is smart whether or not I am carrying a gun in the field.
Birders, how many times have you been on a field trip and heard gunfire in the distance? I for one want to be aware of what those hunters may be shooting at, what game is in season, and the regulations to which the hunters should be abiding. I'll post a follow-up with some of my impressions when complete.

Finally, as migration arrives I have a few organized bird activities coming up. Next weekend I do a group high country snowshoe trip to see what niche species we can find. Then, in the later half of May I will be spending a few days up in the Estes Park area with my family. That is going to be fun on many different levels. The next weekend I am off to my first time CFO Convention based out of Ft. Collins. I am not sure which of all the field trips I am in on, but my requests offer a range of possibilities in northern Colorado and Wyoming. Here is a quick summary of the first choices I submitted for each day:

C2 - Cameron Pass and Jackson County 5:40 a.m.
Cameron Pass and Jackson County. Departing at 5:40 a.m., visiting Cameron, the visitor’s center, and other various locations in Jackson county. Targets include, mountain species, Bald and Golden Eagles, courting Western and Eared Grebes, nesting American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants, California and Franklin’s Gull, Forster’s Tern, Black-crowned Night-Heron, Snowy Egrets, Willets, Greater Sage-Grouse, and many waterfowl.
*C14 - Phantom Canyon Preserve 6:00 a.m.

Special Field Trip! Phantom Canyon Preserve. Departing at 6:00 a.m., this spectacular private holding of The Nature Conservancy (TNC) ordinarily has limited public access. TNC has graciously provided access to CFO conference attendees. Phantom Canyon is one of the largest roadless river canyons on the Front Range, and the scenery is spectacular. We will bird in riparian, montane grassland and shrubland habitats with great potential for breeders, and migrants. CARPOOLING WILL BE REQUIRED THROUGH THE NEIGHBOR’S LOCKED GATE. This trip will require moderate climb up out of the canyon- 600’ elevation gain in 8 tenths of a mile. Leaders will be TNC staff and Ted Floyd.

*C32 - Photo Trip 6:25 a.m.
Photo Trip. Departing at 6:25 a.m., Bill Schmoker will lead this trip visiting Hutton Lake NWR, and the Laramie area. This trip will provide time for those that want to take photographs. There will be opportunities for help with both DSLR and Digiscoping techniques.

I hope it will be a good combination of trips, and I have a fairly strong chance of getting in on those, as this morning's email indicated that only one trip had filled so far for the convention. Even if I didn't get those, my next choices are just as appealing - with the Redfeather Lakes and southeastern Wyoming among the possibilities.

Anyway, I hope that everyone out there has had more excitement in their week than I, and I hope my efforts will provide more field time as migration heats up.

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