Saturday, June 24, 2017

Trip Report: Rock Creek Canyon

Five birders managed to dragged themselves out of bed quite early this morning for a hike in Rock Creek Canyon. I was hesitant to schedule the trip this early for fear of losing possible participants, but, in the end, I think we were all quite happy with the decision. The dawn chorus in the canyon was simply overwhelming.

Looking for a singing Northern Waterthrush...and a MacGillivray's Warbler...and a Veery...

The primary impetus for this trip was the chance to see uncommon breeders that are difficult to find elsewhere this time of year. We got great looks at most species in this category and heard all the other ones we were hoping for. Highlights included Fox Sparrow, American Redstart, Golden-crowned Kinglet, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Northern Waterthrush, Veery, Swainson's Thrush, and Gray Catbird.

Singing (Slate-colored) Fox Sparrow.
 The group also got incredible looks at some of the more common yet delightful species including many Evening Grosbeaks, Western Tanager, MacGillivray's Warbler, Hammond's Flycatcher, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, and Spotted Sandpiper.

As always, the butterflies, wildflowers, and non-avian wildlife (including 3 moose) in the canyon did not disappoint.

Spotted Sandpiper.

(All pictures in this post are from Laurel Armstrong)



A full checklist of the species encountered is listed below:

2 Common Merganser
1 Great Blue Heron
1 Red-tailed Hawk
1 Spotted Sandpiper
2 Mourning Dove
4 Broad-tailed Hummingbird
1 Red-naped Sapsucker
1 Northern Flicker
1 Olive-sided Flycatcher
4 Western Wood-Pewee
8 Hammond's Flycatcher
2 Dusky Flycatcher
3 Cordilleran Flycather
15 Warbling Vireo
1 Steller's Jay
1 Clark's Nutcracker
1 American Crow
2 Tree Swallow
6 Mountain Chickadee
5 House Wren
2 Golden-crowned Kinglet
5 Ruby-crowned Kinglet
5 Veery
5 Swainson's Thrush
10 American Robin
1 Gray Catbird
2 Cedar Waxwing
3 Northern Waterthrush
6 MacGillivray's Warbler
1 American Redstart
8 Yellow Warbler
6 Yellow-rumped Warbler
1 Chipping Sparrow
3 Fox Sparrow
2 Song Sparrow
1 Green-tailed Towhee
8 Western Tanager
4 Black-headed Grosbeak
3 Lazuli Bunting
6 Pine Siskin
4 American Goldfinch
15 Evening Grosbeak

Wednesday, June 21, 2017

Upcoming Trip: Rock Creek Canyon

Golden-crowned Kinglet, photo by Stephen Parsons
Our next field trip, this coming Saturday, June 24, will be to Rock Creek Canyon, up in the Snowy Range. Rock Creek Canyon is a true gem of the Snowies. This cool, shady canyon is home to a fantastic diversity of organisms that aren't always easy to find in the Laramie area. Swainson's Thrushes, Veery, Least Flycatcher, Fox Sparrow, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Evening Grosbeaks breed here among many others. The area also hosts an impressive diversity of plant life and a special reptile that we will also look for. We will plan on spending a couple of hours exploring the area, including a roughly 2 mile hike.

For more info on Rock Creek Canyon and the Arlington trailhead, check out this website.

Meet at 6:00 am the Eppson Senior Center to carpool. We will be back to Laramie by noon, so if you can only join us for part of the trip be prepared to drive yourself or coordinate with others ahead of time.

All Laramie Audubon field trips are free and open to the public; families are welcome. Bring binoculars, water and snacks, and dress for the weather.

Monday, June 12, 2017

Kids' Nature Walk Recap

Photos and post by Lisa Cox, I'm just putting it up. - Libby
 
A small but enthusiastic group gathered for a nature walk BINGO game in LaBonte Park on Saturday morning, June 10. The weather was perfect, with sun and only the slightest breeze, and the group took a leisurely walk around the lake with many stops to look closer and talk about the natural world around us in the park. We spied many of the items on our BINGO cards, including irises and other flowers, cottonwood and spruce trees and seed cones, bees, damselflies, several birds, and at the end of the walk, in the Feeding Laramie Valley yard (of course!) a rabbit and squirrel.

Birds observed: several red-winged blackbirds, house finches, American crows, grackles and house sparrows, four California gulls, three mallard ducks, grackle, two nighthawks, two American goldfinches and a Eurasian collared dove.

Families, keep your eyes on the calendar for future outings geared toward kids. 



Sunday, June 4, 2017

Upcoming trip: Labonte nature walk for Kids

Laramie Audubon will lead a special nature walk designed for kids at Labonte Park this Saturday, June 10, at 9 am. We will meet by the Feeding Laramie Valley building on 9th Street. 

Join Lisa and Beth to explore the habitats of Labonte Park, including the plants, flowers, and birds that live there! With our best naturalist skills we will hunt, question, and traverse through out local park. Please meet us at the Feeding Laramie Valley building with your naturalist tools (investigative eyes and curiosity) and we'll supplement the tools with a checklist and scavenger hunt. Bring binoculars if you have them. Please plan on exploring the park for two hours.


Mallard

Friday, May 19, 2017

The Universal Language of Birds

The Ucross Foundation, Bighorn Audubon Society, and Audubon Rockies invite you to participate in a special event combining art and birds. You can submit your own art and participate in an all-day event celebrating birds on 10 June in Clearmont, Wyoming. Please see the flyer below for details, and click on the image to download the flyer.


Laramie Bird Notes -- 5/6 - 5/18

Although we should be experiencing peak songbird migration about now, many of the local migrant traps have been surprisingly devoid of bird life recently. Nevertheless, several interesting birds have been found over the past week or so.

Birds continue to accumulate in the mountains as the Laramie and Snowy Range become more accessible to birders and birds. A Williamson's Sapsucker, a somewhat uncommon breeder in the mountains here, was photographed at the Vedauwoo campground in the Laramie Range. White-throated Swifts were also found around Vedauwoo recently. Dusky Flycatchers seem to have returned to several places in both the Laramie and Snowy ranges, including the Happy Jack area and Rock Creek Canyon. Northern Waterthrushes, which breed along some of the creeks around the Snowies, were found in Rock Creek Canyon and at the MAPS banding station near Centennial. After a ton of effort this spring, Nate Behl and I finally found a Boreal Owl in the Snowies. After ~17 hours of birding across southeast Wyoming on May 13, we were delighted to hear one bird singing in the Brooklyn Lake area multiple times.

It seems that the vast majority of plains birds have returned to the area and are gearing up for the breeding season. A Common Yellowthroat was found at Hutton Lake NWR, 2 Eastern Kingbirds were found on the road to Hutton, and a Mountain Plover was found on Old Laramie River Road. Mountain Plovers breed in this area and in some of the prairie along Highway 34, but they are notoriously difficult birds to find. A great way to find them is to drive the northern part of Old Laramie River Road during a heavy spring snowstorm (like the one right now). They, along with thousands of other birds, can reliably found on the road in these conditions. Just make sure you don't get stuck -- this road can get pretty muddy.

Indigo Bunting. Photo by Laurel Armstrong.


Lots of fun birds have been found in and around town recently. Swainson's Thrushes, Broad-winged Hawks, and Western Tanagers have been seen at several spots in town. In what continues to be a good spring for Zonotrichia sparrows, a White-throated Sparrow was found along the Greenbelt. A Lazuli Bunting was also seen along the Greenbelt recently. Finally, Laurel Armstrong continues to find great birds in her yard on the east side of town -- both an Indigo Bunting and a Gray Catbird were seen in the past couple days.

Today is a good day to get out and go birding! These late spring snowstorms are really hard on birds, but they offer us great opportunities to observe them. Birding the plains can be very productive in these conditions, as birds congregate in large numbers near roads, but birding around town can -- especially at feeders, can produce some very interesting sightings. As I write this, there are 10 Green-tailed Towhees, 12 White-crowned Sparrows, a Lark Sparrow, a Brewer's Sparrow, and a few Vesper Sparrows at my feeder.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Trip report: Hereford Ranch

This past Saturday, May 13, we had a great trip to the Wyoming Hereford Ranch. The trip coincided with eBird's Global Big Day, so it was nice to get out and submit some data! Highlights included Clay-colored Sparrow, Black-headed Grosbeaks, Plumbeous Vireo thanks to the Boulder folks that were also there, and fluffy Great Horned owlets. I also managed to pick up a Lazuli Bunting while I was working on my checklist after everyone else left...sorry guys.

Our full checklist is here. Thanks everyone for birding with us!

Great Horned Owl adult with two chicks. Photo by Tim Banks.