Monday, September 14, 2009

New Mexico

On my way back from Arizona I made a couple stops in New Mexico. The first stop was at Bosque Del Apache NWR. This was my my first summer visit here and it was very dead. I didn't take any pictures but I did get a glimpse of some Gambel's Quail, Ring-necked Pheasant, Black Phoebe and Wilson's Warbler. On the road leading out of the refuge I spotted a rattlesnake crossing the road. I pulled over and walked back along the road until I heard the snake rattling in the weeds.

Western Diamondback Rattlesnake

Of course I couldn't drive through New Mexico without heading over to Conchas Lake to see the Blue-footed Booby. I believe this is the first Blue-footed Booby in New Mexico. When I got to the lake I stopped to pay the entrance fee and a couple stopped and asked if I was there to see "The Bird". They said that they had been looking for two hours with no luck and then they drove out of the area. I got my camera and started walking toward to shore not really expecting to see "The Bird" but within a few minutes it appeared and spent about 5 minutes flying back and forth in front of me.

Blue-footed Booby

Monday, September 7, 2009

Southern Arizona Trip

I recently returned from my 2nd SE Arizona trip. It was my first trip to Arizona in the summer. It was beautiful, hot, and slow.

On the first day I headed out to Sonoita Creek Preserve in Patagonia to find that it was closed on that day. I spent some time walking along Blue Haven Road looking for the Sinaloa Wren. I got a few poor photos of young Phainopeplas, a Summer Tanager, and this post-bath Rufous-crowned Sparrow.

The next day I returned to the preserve because I knew that it was open.

I quickly found this Gray Hawk. He looked angry. Maybe it's the eyes.

And this small and noisy group of Thick-billed Kingbirds.

At Madera Canyon it was hot and dead quiet.

A Yarrow's Spiny Lizard possed for his photograph.

Ladder-backed woodpeckers were a common sight. I didn't see any on my first Arizona Trip.

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Some Summer Insects

In addition to my camera, telephoto lens and tripod I also like to carry my Canon 100mm Macro lens with me in the summer in case I find any interesting insects.

Tailed Copper - Waldo Canyon - 7-12-2009

The Mueller butterfly and moth were in the same area by School Pond. I would like to have stayed longer to see what else was around but the strong smell of black bear made me want keep moving.

Hoary Comma - Mueller State Park - 8-2-2009

Ctenucha Venosa? Moth - Mueller State Park - 8-2-2009

Ctenucha Venosa? Moth - Mueller State Park - 8-2-2009

Aphrodite Fritillary - Ute Valley Park - 7-5-2009

This small flowering plant had 8-10 of these wasps on it. They look wicked but are not at all aggressive so I was taking pictures with my macro lens a few inches away. When I got home I did some research and found out that they probably have the most painful sting in North America. As adults they eat flowers and pollen. They kill tarantulas to provide a food source for their larval young.

Tarantula Hawk - Brush Hollow Reservoir - 7-18-2009

Robber Fly with prey - DeWeese Reservoir - 7-18-2009

Robber Fly with prey - DeWeese Reservoir - 7-18-2009

With their intensely white tail, this species of dragonfly is difficult to photograph in full sunlight. This particular dragonfly waited patiently while I took several photos, checking the over-exposure alert and using exposure compensation to adjust the exposure so that the tail wouldn't be over exposed.

White Tail Dragonfly male - Bonny Reservoir State Park - 8-8-2009 - Canon 400mm

White Tail Dragonfly female - Bonny Reservoir State Park - 8/8/2009 - Canon 400mm

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Williamson's Sapsuckers

Earlier this month I photographed this pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers at Genessee Mountain Park west of Denver. The nest is in an area that gets a lot of foot traffic and the birds appear to have little fear of people. It is amazing how hard this pair was working to keep their chicks fed.

Williamson's Sapsucker male

Williamson's Sapsucker female

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Ramah SWA

Saturday I drove out to Ramah State Wildlife Area to see if there was any water in Ramah Reservoir. With the unusual amount of rain that we have had here this summer I thought the reservoir might have recovered. It was still completely dry. It's strange that last year it was full and this year it is dry.

Not having any water really limits the wildlife so it was really quiet. I did find some Western Kingbirds feeding their young.

Western Kingbird feeding young

Western Kingbird (immature)

This Northern Mockingbird acted like it was part of the Western Kingbird family.

Northern Mockingbird

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Reddish Egret at DeWeese Reservoir

Reddish Egret

It has been a great summer for rare birds visiting Colorado. Right on the heels of the Black Vulture comes a Reddish Egret to DeWeese Reservoir. This bird, first reported by Rich Miller on July 17th, will likly be the 9th or 10th reported in Colorado.

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Black Vulture

Black Vultures rarely visit Colorado. For several days one has been staying at Castlewood Canyon State Park. The Turkey Vultures seem to love this place so it seems fitting that the Black Vulture would end up here.

Black Vulture

While waiting for the Black Vulture to make an appearance a few other attractive birds stopped by the parking area to get there photographs taken.

Young Bluebird

Lazuli Bunting

Lazuli Bunting

Sunday, July 5, 2009

San Luis Hills

San Luis Hills

Last weekend I was in the San Luis Valley visiting my parents. We went over to the San Luis Hills to look for Black-throated and Sage Sparrows. We didn't have much luck with the sparrows but it was a good trip anyway. It is amazing how such a dry desert like environment can be so full of life.

The Green-tailed Towhee always seems to keep a stick between it and a photographer. Maybe someday I will get an unobstructed view.

Green-tailed Towhee

This place was crawling with insects. A little rain does wonders.

Three-banded Grasshopper

We also took a loop through the Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge. It was fairly quiet but it was fun watching the baby American Avocet chicks.

American Avocet chick

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Lake Pueblo

Summer has arrived in Colorado and there are now few email alerts for rare and unusual birds to lure me off to the far corners of the state. So I head down to Lake Pueblo, not too far away and always has something to offer. About 30 feet from the parking lot I see a female Blue Grosbeak about 15 feet in front of me right out in the open. It's the best Blue Grosebeak photo op I have ever had. The only problem is that the camera is in the backpack, I chose comfort over being prepared. I slowly take off the backback and lower to the ground and the bird is still there. I unzip the bag and pick up the camera and the bird is still there. I mount the camera on the tripod with one eye on the bird. I slowly remove the lens cap, the bird appears to be waiting patiently as if it wants to have its picture taken. I slowly aim the camera and look through the viewfinder... the bird is gone. Oh well, it was only a female. I have seen Blue Grosbeaks twice in Colorado and they were both at this location.

Loggerhead Shrike

A short distance later I come upon a Loggerhead Shrike. This bird allows me to get really close without even trying.

On my way back to the car I see movement at my feet and notice a Lark Sparrow running away from me. It acts like both of its wings are broken. Once it gets about 30 feet away it flys up onto a Yucca and then acts completly normal. Is this behavior like the injured killdeer act? Was it trying to lure me away from its nest? Do Lark Sparrows nest on the ground?

It appeared to be a great day for Lizards but I only found this one.

Triploid Checkered Whiptail

Bee Assassin Bug

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Colorado National Monument - Lizards etc.

Colorado National Monument is also a good place to find lizards. I found 3 species without a lot of effort.

Side-blotched Lizard

Western Whiptail

Plateau-striped Whiptail

Rock Squirrel

Prickley-pear Cactus

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Colorado National Monument

Last week I headed out to western Colorado to do some camping at Colorado National Monument. After a couple of hours at the monument we had seen several of the birds that specialties of the area including: Black-throated Gray Warbler (campsite), Pinion Jay (campsite), Gambels Quail (road to campground and in Grand Junction), and Juniper Titmouse (campsite). I had one curious Juniper Titmouse fly to within 3 feet of where I was sitting on the picnic table. I thought that it was going to land on my hand, it might of if I had had some seeds.

As lively as the Monument was the best opportunities for photography were at the Kokopelli trailheads near Fruita. It was at this location that I was able to photograph my first Black-throated Sparrows in Colorado.

Black-throated Sparrow with Food

Black-throated Sparrow with Grasshopper

Black-throated Sparrow

A few other birds agreed to pose for a photo.

Western Kingbird

Violet-green Swallow

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Manitou Lake

Looking for a change of scenery I headed up to Manitou Lake. Manitou Lake is a small mountain lake outside of the town of Woodland Park. For the most part the lake had very few birds but lots of fishermen. There were eight American White Pelicans on the lake that seemed out of place and rather striking in this environment.

American White Pelican

Black-chinned Hummingbird

At one end of the lake is a boardwalk that goes through a cattail marsh. I sat on the boardwalk for about 10 minutes and saw a Virginia Rail and a Sora. I also heard some really strange calls (like a laughing Java the Hut) coming from what I believe were the Virgina Rail. It is hard to believe that an animal that small can make such a loud and deep sound.

Friday, May 22, 2009

More Good Migrants in Colorado Springs

It has been a great migration season for Colorado Springs. Most of this activity takes place in Sonderman Park and Fountain Creek Nature Center (south of Colorado Springs). For me it has been all about Vireos. I have added 3 new Vireos to my life list. The White-eyed, Yellow-throated and Plumbeous Vireos. The following photos were all taken on the same day.

Warbling Vireo
Sonderman Park

Plumbeous Vireo
Fountain Creek Nature Center

White-eyed Vireo
Sonderman Park

Yellow-throated Vireo
Fountain Creek Nature Center