Saturday, February 11, 2012

Waterfowl ID Fieldtrip via FCNC 2/11/2012

It hasn't made it out of the teens today, so it was a very cold field trip but a very nice one this morning with Ken Pals, Gavin Scott and four other people whose names I haven't quite mastered yet (sorry).
Starting at the Nature Center, the Harris Sparrow was present along with, of course, red wing blackbirds, juncos (including a white-sided, oregons, pink-sided and grays), white crown sparrows, song sparrows, eurasian collared doves, flickers, chickadees and house finches.  Also at the ponds right there were a small group of Canada Geese and this great looking heron, hunkered down into the water out several feet from the edge, with a dusting of snow on its back.

We drove in the El Paso County van down to the Willow ponds area parking lot, and headed up from there toward Rice's pond.  In the run-off from the treatment plant we saw another heron and several green-winged teal and I think some mallards, too.  In the creek heading south, we saw some gadwall, more teal and mallard and Canada geese.

In the ponds we saw a great bird for me:  pintails!

Another neat one for me was a killdeer we saw in Fountain Creek.

It seemed so frigid I didn't expect to see one for some reason.  We also saw shovelers, American wigeons, Pie-billed Grebes, coots, Common mergansers and a muskrat.

A possible prairie falcon flew overhead before we got a good look, and of course crows were out and about as well.

As we left the park, a kestrel dove down right onto highway 85/87 in front of a truck and got up just in time - it must've seen something it thought was breakfast.

Next, we went to the Doubletree pond and saw lots of neat birds there including common goldeneyes, canvasbacks, ring-necked ducks, domestic/hybrid geese and ducks, mallards, and more Common Mergansers as well as Hooded Mergansers.   

Ring-necked (but ought to be named ring-billed!):  

At Prospect Lake we didn't see any new waterfowl species, but did see pigeons hanging out on the ice, and a whole bunch of robins, and a Downy Woodpecker.  There were Common mergansers, Canada Geese, coots, some domestic Geese, and American Wigeons, mainly.  The wigeons, coots and Canada Geese were obviously rather tame and came out of the water and sat down in the snowy grass near us when we arrived, clearly hoping for a treat.  The wigeons had this high-pitched squeak almost like a dog's squeaky toy but softer:  and the coots were adorably ungraceful.  They walk kind of like chickens, their heads bobbing, and they seemed to pick up their feet a little too high.

Then we went to Big Johnson Reservoir and saw mergansers, goldeneyes, lesser scaup, and red-heads. Somewhere along the way we also saw red-tail hawks and magpies.  There was a young bald-eagle that gave us quite a show at Big Johnson - it flew right over us - and in our area for awhile.  It had a white head and tail but still a mottled body.  It looked similar to this, but whiter in head and tail, more mottled in body:

Back at the center, I added a Hairy Woodpecker to the list, and arriving home there were some starlings in a nearby tree.  Very cold trip but lots of fun.

No comments: