Saturday, April 17, 2010
We took our time getting started this morning. After a nice full breakfast, we made a run to a local cemetery here in Fort Collins where a pair of White-winged Crossbills had made an attempt at nesting. The nest had been raided by a predator, but the adults had hung around and we were hoping to see them. We got to the area but didn't see the crossbills. So we headed east to the Pawnee Grasslands. Along the way we passed the Weld landfill where there were some gulls haggling over the refuse. Among them were a couple dozen Franklin's Gulls with their bright pink breasts along with a few hundred California Gulls and a small number of Ring-billed Gulls. We drove onto the Murphy's Pasture section of the grasslands and almost immediately had a lovely male McCown's Longspur in the roadway in front of us (photo). This was our last longspur for the list. We left the grasslands and drove to several area ponds and wet spots looking for shorebirds, but there were very few. We did see our first Ring-necked Pheasant of the year, though. There were lots of ducks, grebes, and the like, but virtually no shorebirds except for several Wilson's Snipe that were winnowing high above us. It was interesting to compare that call with that of the Boreal Owl we heard last night. From there we stopped for lunch at a truck stop and then drove to Lyons where we took a nice walk along a stream hoping for dipper. We ran into some dog walkers who told us they had seen dippers recently at a put-in spot for kayaks across from the Black Bear restaurant. Of course we went there. John hopped out of the car to take a look while I stayed in the car to listen to the Cards game (Did I tell you the rental car has satellite radio?) John called to say the American Dipper was right in front of us. I got out and took a look and a photo. That was our fourth new bird of the day bringing the total to 458. Tomorrow we go to Loveland Pass to look for White-tailed Ptarmigan. By the way they had fresh snow this afternoon at the high altitudes. Nothing like looking for an all white bird in fresh snow.