Thursday, October 1, 2015

Trip report: Laramie hotspots

This past Saturday Shawn Billerman led a group of Auduboners to several Laramie parks in search of migrating passerines. Along the Greenbelt we found many Spizella sparrows--mostly Chipping but with a few Clay-coloreds--and foraging flocks of Wilson's, Orange-crowned, and Yellow-rumped warblers. "Stink Lake" in LaBonte Park hosted several species of dabbling ducks and a lone California Gull. The links below take you to our complete checklists.

Greenbelt - Optimist Park
Greenbelt - Flint St
LaBonte Park
Greenhill Cemetery

However, the most unusual bird of the day--dare I say, best bird of the day?--was a sapsucker at Greenhill Cemetery. The bird seems to be a Red-naped x Yellow-bellied Sapsucker hybrid. I have included Shawn's description of the bird and one of his photos below; see our eBird checklist linked above for more photos.

"Presumed hybrid individual that showed intermediate characteristics between Red-naped and Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. This bird had us leaning toward Yellow-bellied, due to the black border around the red throat and overall lack of a red nape, but these traits were imperfect for Yellow-bellied. The black border around the red throat was very narrow and irregular, and had some red extending over it when the bird was in certain positions. The nape was not clean white, and had a pinkish wash that suggests introgression with Red-naped. The markings on the back are also not consistent with pure Yellow-bellied, being in two rows that are too narrow for typical Yellow-bellied, and possibly too wide for pure Red-naped. This hybrid combination is not well understood, in part due to the strong similarity between the two species. These two species are known to hybridize in the Rocky Mountains in southwestern Alberta. Presumed hybrids have been documented in eastern Colorado, and likely pass through this region regularly but are overlooked due to the difficulty of identification."

Presumed Red-naped x Yellow-bellied Sapsucker. Photo © Shawn Billerman.

Monday, September 28, 2015

Upcoming talk: Alison Lyon-Holloran

Cordilleran Flycatcher at the MAPS station near Laramie.
Alison Lyon-Holloran will kick off our fall program season with her talk titled "Audubon Rockies' Programs and Priorities". Alison is the executive director of Audubon Rockies; she will update us on the organization's current programs and activities. Audubon Rockies is one of the regional offices of the National Audubon Society, and serves the states of Wyoming and Colorado.

Alison's talk will be held in the Berry Center auditorium at 7 pm on Wednesday, September 30. As always, feel free to come as early as 6:30 pm to mingle and enjoy refreshments in the Berry Center lobby.

Friday, September 25, 2015

Upcoming trip: Laramie Hotspots

Greenhill Cemetery. Photo by Libby Megna.
This Saturday, September 26, Shawn Billerman will lead us on a tour of the best birding locations within Laramie. We usually visit Greenhill Cemetery, the Greenbelt, and other city parks in search of migrating songbirds. Birders of all levels are welcome! This is a particularly good trip for beginning birders.

We will meet at 8 am at Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse to carpool. Bring binoculars and field guides, dress for the weather, and bring water and snacks. This will be a shorter trip, and will likely be over by noon or 1 p.m., though participants are free to leave at any time.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Trip report: Plains Lakes and Hutton NWR

This past Saturday seven Auduboners got out to enjoy sunshine and birds at several lakes outside Laramie. Waterfowl diversity wasn't as high as hoped, but we did have some great looks at several species of raptors. eBird checklists for our main stops are linked below.

Blake's Pond
Meeboer Lake
Hutton Lake NWR

Rush Lake at Hutton Lake NWR. Photo by Libby Megna.

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Saturday Field Trip to Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge, Sept. 19th

Shawn Billerman and Libby Megna will lead a trip to our favorite national wildlife refuge and the lakes west of town (Plains Lakes) to view fall migrants and resident waterfowl, raptors, and shorebirds.  Come and see what birds are stopping in Laramie to rest and refuel while on their long journeys south.  Immature species are often difficult to identify, but Shawn and Libby are knowledgeable and helpful to novice (and expert!) birders in identifying birds in various plumage.

Bring your binoculars, field guides and spotting scope if you have one.  Also bring plenty of water and snacks for the lengthy trip.  Wear layers that are appropriate for changes in the weather.  It's plenty windy at Hutton, so be prepared to hold on to your hat.

This trip will last several hours, maybe into the afternoon, but anyone in their own vehicle can return home early.

Meet at Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse in downtown Laramie on Ivinson Street near the railroad tracks at 8:00 a.m. to caffeinate and carpool.  If you are driving your own vehicle, be sure to gas up ahead of time.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Call for board members

As you are probably aware, Laramie Audubon is dependent on the financial support of its members and on the interest of members and friends in our programs, field trips, and other activities. What you may not be as familiar with is the behind-the-scenes work that is done by volunteer board members to keep the organization operational. Board members serve two-year terms, which typically begin in November. This fall we have room for several new board members.

Anyone who is a member of Laramie Audubon, interested in our mission, and willing to donate time to the organization may be a board member. Board members are expected to attend all board meetings (approximately three per year) and at least some of our programs. Otherwise, involvement can be quite flexible. We generally take a divide and conquer approach!

We are looking for folks who are interested in being “odds-and-ends” board members, willing to fill in as needed for various activities—perhaps helping to arrange speakers, lead field trips, contribute articles to our newsletter or blog, or spearheading an outreach program in the community. We are also looking for people to fill the following specific positions:
1) Membership coordinator
2) Newsletter editor
These positions will require a larger contribution of time compared to the “odds-and-ends” board members and require someone who is computer savvy.

If you are interested in becoming a board member for Laramie Audubon please let us know at that you would like to be a board member candidate. Also let us know if you would be willing to fill either of the specific positions noted above. We will hold board member elections in November—current members of the board as well as Laramie Audubon members vote in order to confirm candidates. If you have questions before committing to be a candidate, please feel free to direct your concerns our way as well.

Libby Megna
LAS Secretary

LAS board members and friends enjoying a day at Hutton NWR. Photo by Libby Megna.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Saturday Field Trip to Hereford Ranch, Sept. 12th, 7:00am

Tim Banks will lead this field trip to Hereford Ranch, just east of Cheyenne, Wyoming, where many eastern bird species can be seen. The ranch holds riparian areas as well as grasslands and forests. Meet at 7:00 a.m. at Night Heron Books and Coffeehouse in Laramie (across from the Buckhorn Bar) to caffeinate and carpool to the ranch. The ranch is located south of Interstate 80. Take the Campstool Road exit to County Road 209 and turn east onto 209.

This trip could last past the noon hour but participants can leave at any time if they have their own vehicle. Be sure to gas up ahead of time; wear layers for the weather; bring plenty of water and snacks. Don’t forget to bring your binoculars, field guides and a spotting scope if you have one. This trip requires lots of walking so wear appropriate shoes.

Questions? Call 307-760-9518 or 307-399-9557.