Sunday, February 19, 2017

Trip Report -- Snowy Range Hike (2/18)

Yesterday morning 27 participants went for a beautiful hike to the Brooklyn Lake area in the Snowy Range. The excellent cone crop of Engelmann Spruce in the area this year is supporting a large number of winter seed-eating birds compared to most years. In a couple hours, we managed to find the following species:

1 Steller's Jay
1 Gray Jay
2 Clark's Nutcracker
2 Common Raven
1 Red-breasted Nuthatch
4 Mountain Chickadee
6 Red-winged Blackbird
7 Pine Grosbeak (including a couple of singing males)
10 type 2 Red Crossbill
6 type 5 Red Crossbill (including one very cooperative pair building a nest)
4 Pine Siskin

One group also observed a Rough-legged Hawk and a Golden Eagle on the drive back to Laramie.

A small contingent also went out looking for owls yesterday night. While no owls were heard or seen, the group was treated to stunning views of the Milky Way and a handful of bright meteors. The only animal activity detected was a Red Fox feeding on a fresh Mule Deer carcass along the road near Centennial.

Pictures courtesy of Jimena Golcher.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

Change of location for this weekend's field trip


Given the lack of birds along Vedauwoo Rd. in the Laramie Range, and the abundance of birds in the Snowy Range this winter, we have decided to visit the latter instead of the former for our winter birds field trip this weekend (2/18).

Target birds for this trip to the Snowy Range will be White-winged Crossbills, Red Crossbills, Pine Grosbeaks, Gray Jays, Clark's Nutcrackers, all of which have been seen in the area in the last week.

We will meet at 8 am at Coal Creek Coffee to carpool. Bring binoculars and field guides. Dress for the weather and bring water and snacks. If you can only join us for a short time, be prepared to drive your own vehicle or coordinate with carpool buddies.

Birders of all levels are welcome! Our trips are free and open to the public.

Upcoming talk: Birding by Ear CANCELLED

Next Wednesday, February 22, Libby Megna will give an informal talk on common songbirds of Albany County, and how to identify them by sight and sound. We will especially pay attention to easily misidentified species. This talk should be very helpful for beginning birders, and hopefully the experienced folks can learn some new things too. February is too early for most birdsong in Wyoming, but start practicing now to be ready for spring migration!

We will meet in the Berry Center auditorium. Parking adjacent to the building is free after 5 pm. Bird chat and refreshments begin at 6:30 pm, and the talk will begin at 7:00 pm.

Yellow-headed Blackbirds sound hilarious--listen here. Photo (c) Shawn Billerman.

Sunday, February 12, 2017

Upcoming trip: Winter birds

Join us this Saturday, February 18, for a winter bird walk  Vedauwoo Glen Road in the Laramie Range (see map for meeting place) LOCATION CHANGED TO SNOWY RANGE. Last year, the highlights were some early Mountain Bluebirds, a family of Red Crossbills actively feeding young, a wandering flock of Common Redpolls, and a group of noisy Pygmy Nuthatches. We will also keep our eyes peeled for Northern Pygmy-Owl, which was found in the Laramie Range for the first time last year.

This trip will coincide with the Great Backyard Bird Count, a citizen science initiative to gather data on numbers of birds during the Presidents' Day weekend. We will count the birds we see and submit the data to eBird. If you can't join us for this trip, I encourage you to count birds in your backyard--or anywhere else!--during 17 - 20 February.

We will meet at 8 am at Coal Creek Coffee to carpool. Bring binoculars and field guides. Dress for the weather and bring water and snacks. If you can only join us for a short time, be prepared to drive your own vehicle or coordinate with carpool buddies.

Birders of all levels are welcome! Our trips are free and open to the public.

Common Redpoll

Monday, February 6, 2017

Trip report: Snow tracking

This post and photos are by Brian Waitkus

Tracks left by a weasel
On Saturday the 4th of February four people joined Dr. Gary Beauvais, Director of the University of Wyoming’s Natural Diversity Database, for what has long become an annual Laramie Audubon winter outing. We once again joined Gary to learn about identifying animal tracks left in the snow. The lessons learned over the years have been expanded to include other winter animal behavior and effects of forest session on various animal and plant species.

This year a light snow fall and wind combined to erase much of the evidence of animal movement. We were able to discover coyote/fox, pine squirrel, weasel, and moose tracks while also learning how domestic dog prints can easily be discerned from other canid tracks. The family dogs rarely practice the perfect step of their wild cousins. This occurs when the snow deepens and to conserve energy animals place their hind feet into the same location they stepped with their front feet.

Bird sightings in the deep forest was slightly better than most years with 3 stellar jays, 2 crows, 2 gray jays, and more than 20 mountain chickadees being observed.

Gary Beauvais discussing forest succession with the group

Monday, January 30, 2017

Upcoming trip: Snow Tracking

Tracks on Track
Photo by Per.

Join us Saturday, February 4, for our annual snow tracking field trip on cross-country skis or snowshoes. Gary Beauvais, Director of the Wyoming Natural Diversity Database, will lead us on a snow tracking trip to look for tracks made by mammals and birds. Dr. Beauvais will teach us how to identify what made the tracks while we learn about the behaviors of mammals during cold winter months.

Bring snow-shoes or cross-country skis, whichever you prefer.

Meet at 8:00 a.m. at Coal Creek Coffee, downtown Laramie, 110 Grand Ave., to caffeinate and carpool to Chimney Park Trailhead near Fox Park on Hwy 230. Chimney Park is a fee area so bring $5 per carload or US Forest Service pass to park.

This trip lasts several hours so bring plenty of water and snacks and warm outdoor clothes. You may leave at any time if you have your own vehicle. Otherwise, we should be back in Laramie by 1:00 pm.

Back-up date for this trip is February 11, if the weather is too harsh.

Sunday, January 29, 2017

Audubon Crane Festival

The Audubon Crane Festival, hosted by Audubon Nebraska, will occur March 16 - 19 this year. If you would like to attend the festival, Laramie Audubon is facilitating ridesharing and coordinating roommates. On-line registration for the festival itself has begun--see the link above.

For information on crane-watching, the Crane Festival, and facilities in Kearney, contact Tim Banks. To find others who plan on attending, contact Lindsey Sanders. We recommend that you arrange lodgings as soon as possible.

Sandhill Cranes in flight