Monday, November 23, 2015

Trip Report: Raptors of the Laramie Plains

by Brian Waitkus

Five people joined Chad Olsen for our annual raptor field trip on November 14.  The day was a surprise with sunny skies and little to no wind.  The trip began by going to the Gelatt Lake area via Pahlow Lane.   The lone Great horned owl was seen at the Hill ranch building complex.  In addition, Golden and Bald eagles, and Norther Harriers, Rough-legged hawks, and Ferruginous hawks were observed along this portion of the trip.  The day before Chad viewed eagles taking coots at the small open water areas on Gelatt Lake, but the warmer weather opened up larger portions of the lake today making the hunting more difficult.  Ducks, gulls and the lone meadowlark were also seen in this area.

Traveling to Brubaker Lane,  near the Laramie River, we observed a Redtail hawk sitting in a cottonwood eating a squirrel.  Traveling from this point to Sand Creek Road and back to Laramie more hawks and eagles were located.  A very good day was had for all and Chad once again delivered an excellent a trip providing great insight into the various raptors.

Species Number
Great Horned Owl 1
Northern Harrier 3 (1 juv)
Rough-legged Hawk 3
Ferruginous Hawk 8
Red-tailed Hawk 1
Golden Eagle 8
Bald Eagle 14 (4 adult, 10 subadults)
Eagle sp. 2
American Coot 156
Mallard 5
Gadwall 1
Green-winged Teal 1
Ring-billed Gull 3
Horned Lark 6+
Western Meadowlark 1

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Program Announcement: Nov. 18, 7PM: Sharpt-tailed Grouse in South-Central Wyoming

Please join us tomorrow, November 18th for our last fall program of fall semester.

We will be hearing about the "Population Status of the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse in South-Central Wyoming." University of Wyoming PhD Candidate, Kurt Smith, will discuss his research on the Columbian Sharp-tailed Grouse, an imperiled subspecies of the Sharp-tailed Grouse that may be threatened by energy development. Laramie Audubon contributed to Kurt’s research through its small grant program.

***Note Change of Venue*** Instead of our usual meeting place in the Berry Center, we will be meeting in the CLASSROOM BUILDING on the University of Wyoming campus, Room 214. We will still gather at 6:30PM to socialize and for refreshments before the program starts at 7:00PM.

In addition to our scheduled talk, we will also hold our annual board elections at the start of the meeting.

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Upcoming Trip: Raptors of the Laramie Plains, Nov. 14

Ferruginous Hawk, Albany Co., WY © Shawn Billerman
This coming Saturday, November 14, Laramie Audubon Society will lead a field trip that will focus on spotting our local birds of prey. Though it is getting chilly, November is one of the best times to find raptors around Laramie, with good numbers of Ferruginous Hawks still moving through, and Rough-legged Hawks arriving from their Arctic breeding grounds for the winter. If you need help identifying hawks, eagles, and falcons, and want to learn about the natural history of our local raptors, then this trip is for you. All levels of birders are welcome.

Meet at Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse, downtown Laramie, at 8:00 a.m. to caffeinate and carpool. Please gas up ahead of time.

Bring binoculars, spotting scope if you have one, field guide(s), snacks, and plenty of water. Dress in layers for our Wyoming weather. If you have any questions, please call Sophie at 307-742-6138.

Monday, November 9, 2015

Sagebrush Sea Film Showing

If you missed seeing the Sagebrush Sea when we hosted a showing in August, you have a second chance! We are co-sponsoring a viewing with UW Student Chapter of The Wildlife Society and other local agencies. Join us Thursday, November 12 at 6 pm in the Berry Center auditorium. This film was produced by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and has been highly acclaimed.

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Grassland Birds and Wind Energy Talk

Hi all! I'd like to invite you to my talk on the effects of wind energy development on the habitat use and nesting productivity of Horned Lark and McCown's Longspur.

It's taking place Monday, Nov 9 at 2pm on the University of Wyoming campus in the Classroom Building, room 310. 

I hope to see you there!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Upcoming talk: Feathers & Talons by Jeff Birek

Swainson's Hawk. Photo ©Shawn Billerman.
Join Laramie Audubon Society for a free public program:

Wednesday, Oct. 28
UW Biodiversity Center Auditorium
10th Street and Lewis Street
Laramie, Wyoming
Free parking after 5 pm

6:30 pm Refreshments and Bird Chat
7:00 pm Program begins

Feathers & Talons: A Closer Look at Wyoming's Raptors
Raptor expert Jeff Birek of the Rocky Mountain Bird Observatory will discuss the identification and ecology of Wyoming’s hawks, eagles, falcons, and other diurnal raptors. He will review field marks, shapes, and behaviors to help us better identify raptors in flight.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Trip Report: Laramie Plains Lakes

On a lovely October morning, 6 people joined the Laramie Audubon trip to the Plains Lakes. Although songbirds were notably absent, waterbird numbers were increasing on many of the lakes. Diversity of waterbirds was still rather low at many sites, but we were treated to wonderful views of the some unusual birds.

We started the trip off at Blake's Pond, where there were well over 100 American Wigeons, as well as a lingering Blue-winged Teal. American Coots were also out in force, not only on Blake's Pond but on every lake we visited, with numbers well into the hundreds on Meeboer, Gelatt, and Twin Buttes Lakes. On the deeper water of Twin Buttes, we were also treated to many grebes as well as many diving ducks, including Ruddy Ducks and Lesser Scaup. The highlight from Twin Buttes was one Horned Grebe associating with the many Eared Grebes.

Between Blake's and Gelatt, we encountered what was undoubtedly our most unusual bird of the day, a Sharp-tailed Grouse that was flying fast but low from west to east. With no breeding populations in Albany County, this is a very odd bird, and may represent one of the first records from the county. Its origin remains unknown, but may have come from either the eastern plains near Cheyenne, or from the population in Carbon County on the west side of the Sierra Madre range. Unfortunately, not everyone was able to get on the bird as it disappeared just as quickly as it appeared.

While the Sharp-tailed Grouse may have been the most unusual bird, the undeniable highlight was a very confiding Pacific Loon that we were able to watch closely at Lake Hattie. This bird was associating with two Common Loons, which allowed for an incredible opportunity to study the differences between these two species.

Pacific Loon (left) with Common Loon (right) - Lake Hattie, Laramie Plains © Shawn Billerman

Thanks to everyone who joined the Laramie Audubon on a great trip to the Laramie Plains Lakes!