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Tuesday, July 30, 2019

Colorado Trip - July 2019

Mountain Goat on the summit of Mt Evans - 14,420'
        Sharon and I made the trip to Colorado to watch over our grandson Max. After my son successfully piloted the Stratolaunch's first flight in California, he accepted a new job with a company called Boom in Centennial, CO. He moved there and brought Max with him, but Christine had to stay in California until the show she was directing ran it's final production on stage. So we were in charge of Max while Dad went to work. Our stay was for a two week period.
          One of the highlights of this trip for me was a trip at dusk along the Cathy Johnson Trail. Chris, Max, Sharon and I all participated carrying flashlights to help navigate the dirt path. We arrived at the trailhead around 8:35PM and started our hike. We immediately heard a Killdeer calling on the hillside. Seemed liked a strange place for the Killdeer but nevertheless it was there. 
         We kept hiking and saw some eye shine which turned at to be two coyotes. Max was a little nervous but quickly got over it. Finally, a 9PM we heard the call of my target bird, the Common Poorwill. It called for about ten minutes and then flew directly overhead. Awesome! On the way back to the car there were some larger type bats but I not certain of their identity.
           The next day we headed to Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR in search of a Badger and a Black-footed Ferret among the Prairie Dog towns. Both would be life mammals for us. Well, we found neither, but got a few birds while driving the loop.
Western Kingbird

Western Meadowlark
          A few days later, we took Max up to the summit of Mt Evans, which is the highest paved road in the USA. At 14,420' the landscape is quite rugged and also treeless. This is American Pipit country. 

Tundra at top of Mt Evans - Pipit country

Just had to throw in another Mountain Goat picture
American Pipit on breeding grounds
          While descending the mountain we stopped for lunch and found a few more things of interest.

Broad-tailed Hummingbird at 7,500' elevation

Some species of Odonata
View from Restaurant
          The next few days I just birded by myself in the mornings visiting many different areas. One was the Platte Canyon Reservoir where I found some Hooded Mergansers (no photos taken) which were reported as being rare at this time of year.
Common Mergansers(not rare)

Belted Kingfisher

Immature Cliff Swallow

Lesser Goldfinch
          Towards the end of our stay, I visited Roxborough State Park. This is a very popular park due to great scenery and hiking trails. On the entrance road I heard than spotted a Northern Bobwhite. I was attending a scheduled bird walk and told the guide about the bobwhite. She told me it has never been reported, so I showed her the photos I had. She didn't have an answer for that.
Northern Bobwhite

Great scenery

Prairie Falcon- one of three

Lazuli  Bunting

Lesser Goldfinch

View of one of the great trails

Black-headed Grosbeak

Western Tanager

Female Lazuli Bunting

More great views

Western Tanager- You never get enough photos of this guy

I'll let the expects ID this one

This one also

Mule Deer-check the size of those ears
          Finally the last full day in Colorado, Sharon and I headed to the higher elevations once more. We climbed to over 8,000' in search of American Three-toed Woodpecker. I have only seen this bird once before in Alaska. I really wanted this bird for the lower 48. We had tried for this guy about five days ago in the same area with no luck. This was going to be our last chance. We drove around for awhile and picked a spot to pull off the side of the road. I got out of the car and listened for the call notes. Instead, we heard a woodpecker drumming on a distant tree. I walked down the road about a tenth of a mile trying to track down the drummer and hoping it was the right species. There were Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers and both Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsucker in this area. Finally, I was able to spot the culprit. Not only one, but a female and a young bird following the female around begging for food.
American Three-toed Woodpecker

Young American Three-toed Woodpecker

Note yellow patch on crown. Immature in background
             Other birds in the area were Red Crossbills, Pine Siskin, Hermit Thrush and Mountain Chickadees.

Pine Siskin
     Success! Now I could go home having fulfilled my objective.


Thursday, July 18, 2019

Mammals of Colorado - July 2019

Cottontail Rabbit - not sure if it is Eastern or Wetsern
          I thought I would send out a few photos of the many varieties of mammals that we have experienced recently in Colorado. On our first full day in Colorado we traveled north to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR. It's a 15,000 acre expanse of short and mixed grass prairies located northeast of Denver. This area used to belong to the military and was used for storage of ammunition then converted to a wildlife refuge. 
A portion of a herd of Mule Deer on the refuge.

Everyone loves the Prairie Dogs

           One day we took the train to downtown Denver and found these creatures.

Homo Sapien - goes by name of Robo Mike

           During the heat of the afternoon we would go to the rec center to play soccer and swim. I took this photo an artist redition of a pair of Pronghorn Antelope which I hope to try a duplicate in acrylics when I get home. 

          Another day we visited Mt Evans, which is the highest road in all of the United States, reaching an altitude of 14,260' above sea level. Talk about having a hard time breathing, but it was worth it for the great wildlife.

Yellow-bellied Marmots doing their thing.

                Around the summit we also found two Bighorn Sheep which were shedding their winter coats. They looked very scruffy.

I believe these are females due to the short horns

            I was surprised that we were able to find Mountain Goats here. I knew they liked high altitudes but I didn't realize they were found this far south of Montana, which is where we first saw them years ago.

Maybe a second year goat just growing its horns

Momma and youngster

Love this picture

Little Darling. Look how cute the little hooves are.
           That's it for now. See you all later.