Sunday, September 30, 2012

Denver Trip (2): Rocky Mountain Arsenal

After a less-than-spectacular couple of hours birding at Barr Lake, I headed over to the Rocky Mountain Arsenal refuge.

On my way I passed a magnificent Red-tailed Hawk.


The RM Arsenal refuge was remarkably quiet for birds except for Ladora Lake. This had a pair of Western Grebes, a score of American Coots and several Double-crested Cormorants (below).

The edges of the lake had a few Dark-eyed Juncoes and a flock of 20 or more Chipping Sparrows (below).

I examined prairie dog burrows and mounds carefully in hopes of seeing one that had been taken over by Burrowing Owls.

However, for the fourth year in a row at this site I failed to spot any owls!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Denver Trip (1)

Sunday morning I was up and on the road before dawn, driving to Rocky Mountain National Park. This time I wasn't intending to visit the park itself but just to do a little birding around the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center.

The landscape was beautiful and I shared the Center's grounds with a family of white-tailed deer.

Unfortunately, though, there were no birds except a Pygmy Nuthatch and several Black-billed Magpies. So I drove back south and spent a couple of hours at Barr Lake State Park, where I was hoping to see a range of shorebirds and waterbirds.

My luck wasn't very good, because most of the lake and the surrounding marshlands were bone dry. I could see hundreds of Canada Geese and gulls near the remaining stretch of water, plus 30-40 White Pelicans, but all were too far away for photos, as were a Bald Eagle, a Swainson's Hawk and five Sandhill Cranes. As I walked back to my car to drive over nearer to the water, I saw a few other birds - a White-breasted Nuthatch, a Gray Catbird and six Northern Flickers.

Arriving at the water's edge, I enjoyed watching White Pelicans glide by.

A Great Blue Heron was fishing nearby - the only heron or egret that I saw on my trip.

Franklin's and California Gulls were resting on sandbars while Ring-billed Gulls zoomed around overhead.

Finally I spotted one of the birds I had hoped to see during my Denver trip - a Western Grebe.

So far my morning's birding hadn't gone at all well. Was the rest of the day going to be equally disappointing or would my luck change?

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Monday, September 24, 2012

Bolivar to Galveston

While I'm away in Denver, I may as well finish my report on our recent trip to the coast.

We took the ferry from Bolivar to Galveston, something we always enjoy.

As usual, the port was busy with Laughing Gulls and Double-crested Cormorants.

As soon as the boat started moving, we started seeing dolphins, too.

I was hoping to see a Magnificent Frigatebird or two, but I kept scanning the sky ahead to no avail.

Then Deanne told me to look off the stern of the ferry. I was amazed to see two Frigatebirds hanging out with the Laughing Gulls begging for scraps behind the boat.

I'd never seen Frigatebirds so close before. But better was still to come, because nine more of these wonderful birds appeared in the next few minutes. Wow!

Once we got to Galveston, we headed over to Lafitte's Cove, where we hoped to see migrating warblers.  

There were a few warblers around - Northern Parula, Yellow, Hooded and Black-and-White. I only managed to get a photo of the latter.

Half-a-dozen Baltimore Orioles were less skittish.

 The ponds at the Cove were busy with a range of wading birds,.

Our final sighting was of a Green Heron posing on the railing of the boardwalk. Not a bad way to finish end our trip to the coast!


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Early Morning at Anahuac NWR

After our visit to Rollover Pass we spent the night in Winnie. Sunday morning I was up before dawn to do some early morning birding at Anahuac. I like early morning birding - though I don't get to do it much - because I find the birds are generally more relaxed and are more tolerant of my presence. The only downside is that dim lighting makes taking clear photos more difficult.

The first birds I spotted on my drive around Shovelers' Pond were juvenile Yellow-crowned and Black-crowned Night Herons.

Green Herons were out and about, too.

Great Egrets usually fly off when you approach but this one was so relaxed that I was able to take photos from 7-8 feet away.

A couple of hundred Ibis were flying around or wading in the marshy areas. Some where adult White Ibis.

There were also a few Glossy Ibis and several White-faced ones.

Snowy Egrets were common, looking splendid in the early sunlight.

Tricolored Herons and Black-necked Stilts were everywhere.

All of them were having to keep an eye out for alligators.

Most of the Whistling Ducks I could see were Fulvous rather than Black-bellied.


As on the previous day, I saw many adult and young Common Gallinules (formerly Moorhens).

This time, though, I also caught glimpses of a couple of Purple Gallinules.

There were at least 5 Least Bitterns, too, but I didn't manage to get photos of them.

In contrast, this Northern Mockingbird seemed happy to let me photograph it.

As I was leaving, numerous male Red-winged Blackbirds were perching, singing and displaying.

Eastern Kingbirds and Scissor-tailed Flycatchers were on the utility wires lining the entrance/exit road but they were sharing the wires with at least two Olive-sided Flycatchers.


So a short visit to Anahuac had once again provided lots of interesting sightings. That's why it's one of my favorite birding sites, particularly now that it has more or less fully recovered from the effects of Hurricane Ike.