Monday, July 20, 2015

Trip report: Rosy-Finch hike

This past Saturday Laramie Auduboners were treated to excellent views of Brown-capped Rosy-Finches, right at the north end of South Gap Lake were our intrepid leader Brian Waitkus said they would be!

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. Photo © Brian Waitkus.

The Rosy-Finches were actively foraging, and some were carrying food. No nests have been located this year, but the birds' behavior certainly indicated that they have nestlings somewhere nearby.
American Pipit eggs by Libby Megna.

White-crowned sparrows, Lincoln's sparrows, and American pipits are also actively feeding young along the trail to South Gap Lake. Brian had previously located two American pipit nests, one with eggs and one with nestlings. If you are walking along the Gap Lakes Trail in the near future, keep your eyes open and place your feet carefully--the nests are right along the trail!
American Pipit. Photo © Brian Waitkus.
American Pipit nestlings. Photo © Brian Waitkus.

The complete trip list is available on eBird here. The weather and wildflowers were excellent as well. If you're looking for a short hike in scenic country, or want to see Brown-capped Rosy-Finches in their breeding habitat, I highly recommend Gap Lakes Trail! The trail takes off from the north end of the Lewis Lake picnic area.

Gap Lakes Trail. Photo by Libby Megna.

Friday, July 17, 2015

Upcoming trip: Brown-capped Rosy-Finch hike

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch © Shawn Billerman.
Join the Laramie Audubon Society this coming Saturday, July 17th,  to take a hike into the high country of the Snowy Range to search for the elusive Brown-capped Rosy-Finch. This rosy-finch, one of the highest-nesting birds in Wyoming, nests in the northern Colorado Rocky Mountains and Wyoming’s Snowy Range, which are some of the most spectacular vistas in this part of the country.
The mountains this time of year are also blanketed by native wild flowers along the trail that winds between Medicine Bow Peak and Browns Peak. In addition to the rosy-finch, we will likely view American Pipits, White-crowned Sparrows, Violet-green Swallows, California Gulls, raptors, yellow-bellied marmots, and pikas.

The hike will begin at the parking area beside Lewis Lake in the Sugarloaf Recreation Area above Centennial, WY. We will hike approximately one mile each way, to the northern end of South Gap Lake. Do not let the short length of the trail fool you, though. The high altitude of the area and the steepness of short sections of the trail can make this a challenging outing. The constructed trail winds through small wet drainage valleys and across talus boulder fields. It is essential that one wear good hiking shoes or boots that can get wet and give good support. Weather in the high country can be very variable from beautiful sunshine to cooler, with wind and rain. Dress accordingly and bring a coat to protect against the elements.

Sunglasses, insect repellent, and sunscreen are recommended, as are water and snacks, if desired. Binoculars, cameras, and bird, plant, or geology books are also encouraged.

We will meet at the parking area at the end of the gravel road by Lewis Lake at 8:30. The Sugarloaf Recreation area is a U.S. Forest Service fee area ($5); the USFS yearly pass and golden age card are accepted. The drive from Laramie takes the better part of an hour. People can park at the gate and car pool in if desired to cut down on the cost. The hike will last the entire morning, though since it will occur along a designated trail people may return any time at their own leisure.

For further information call Brian Waitkus at 307-343-3121.

Medicine Bow by Libby Megna

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Upcoming Trip: Saturday June 6, Pole Mountain/Happy Jack Trails

Cordilleran Flycatcher © Shawn Billerman
Please join Tim Banks this Saturday, June 6, as he leads a birding trip along some trails in the Pole Mountain area (Happy Jack Trails) to see what forest birds can be found. Many birds are back and singing on their breeding grounds, including various flycatchers, warblers, and other goodies. It should be great birding weather!

We will be meeting at Coal Creek Coffee (downtown) at 8:00 a.m. to caffeinate and carpool. Bring binoculars, water, snacks and suitable hiking shoes and clothes. Be sure to gas up ahead of time. It is about a 20 minute drive from Laramie to the Happy Jack area.

Questions? Call 307-742-6138 or 307-760-9518.

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Upcoming Trip - Laramie Hotspots, May 30

Western Tanager © Shawn Billerman
Join Tim Banks this Saturday, May 30, as he leads a walking field trip along the Laramie Greenbelt, LaBonte Park and other birding hot spots in Laramie. We will be searching for late spring migrants, including warblers, flycatchers, and any other lingering birds passing through, as well as breeding birds that have already set up territories. Over the past week, Laramie has seen some good migrants, including Western Tanager, Rose-breasted Grosbeak, Blackpoll Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo, so who knows what we will turn up on our trip on Saturday.

We will meet at 8:00 a.m. at Coal Creek Coffee, downtown Laramie, to caffeinate and carpool. Bring binoculars and field guides. Dress for the weather. 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.

Birders of all levels are welcome! This field trip is open to the public. Please join us!

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Trip Report - Hereford Ranch

Blue-gray Gnatcatcher © Shawn Billerman
Laramie Audubon's trip to the Wyoming Hereford Ranch in Cheyenne on Saturday, May 16 was very successful. We had up to 14 people join on us for at least part of the walk. We saw a total of 61 species over the course of the morning, including 5 species of warbler, including a young male American Redstart that was singing occasionally. In addition to the warblers, we found both Bullock's and Orchard Orioles, with one pair of each foraging together on the ground at one point, some nice sparrows, including Lark and Lincoln's, and a good variety of flycatchers. We ended up finding 3 species of Empidonax flycatcher, 2 species of kingbird, and Say's Phoebe. One particular highlight for everyone was a stunningly beautiful male Western Tanager that posed nicely in perfect lighting.

Swainson's Thrush © Shawn Billerman

The heavy rains and late snowstorms we have been experiencing here in southeast Wyoming have resulted in extensive flooding at the Hereford Ranch, with both foot bridges that cross the creek having been washed out. Though this limited the areas we could explore, it was still a great morning.

If interested, here is the link to our full eBird list from the trip: Wyoming Hereford Ranch

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Hereford Ranch Field Trip - Saturday, May 16

Bullock's Oriole - © Shawn Billerman
Laramie Audubon Society members and friends will be heading out to Hereford Ranch in Cheyenne, WY on Saturday morning. This is a great place to see eastern species that are migrating through the region, in addition to the other more expected regional migrants. This area is grasslands, riparian, and there is a lake in the vicinity for waterfowl and shorebirds galore.

Meet at 7:00 AM (earlier than usual) at Coal Creek Coffee, downtown Laramie, to carpool and caffeinate to Cheyenne. We will leave no later than 7:15 Be sure to gas up ahead of time--it will take about 50 minutes to get to the ranch. This trip will most likely last into the afternoon, but 
you can leave anytime you like if you drive your own vehicle.

Bring binoculars, spotting scope if you have one, snacks, water, lunch maybe (or you can eat somewhere in Cheyenne), and layer your clothes for weather. Forecast looks good for Saturday morning in Cheyenne!

Birders of all levels are welcome! This field trip is open to the public. Please join us!

Friday, May 8, 2015

CANCELLED - Field Trip to Arapaho NWR

Due to the arrival of heavy rain and the possibility of snow tomorrow, the field trip to Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge in Colorado has been cancelled for tomorrow, May 9. Stay tuned for the potential of a rescheduled trip later in the month.

If you are interested in a rescheduled Arapaho NWR trip on May 23, please contact Vicki Henry at 307-760-9518.

Stay safe and stay warm with the forecasted winter storm this weekend!