WARBLERS HAVE RETURNED TO THE LARAMIE VALLEY!
Yellow-rumped Warblers (both subspecies and lots of intergrades) are all over right now. Additionally, several Orange-crowned Warblers and a snazzy American Redstart were seen around town today. The warblers seem to be preferentially foraging in deciduous trees and shrubs right now, especially ones that are flowering or budding. The tree area and the Greenbelt have been especially good lately, while Greenhill Cemetery has been relatively birdless.
Waterfowl migration is still underway and there are plenty of birds on the lakes, but new arrivals are likely done for the most part this year. Nonetheless, a Cackling Goose was seen this past week. Furthermore, other waterbirds are just starting to show up. Highlights on the plains lakes this past week include Black-necked Stilt, Semipalmated Plover, Marbled Godwit, American Avocet, White-faced Ibis, Glossy Ibis, Great Egret, Bonaparte's Gull, Western Grebe, and Common Loon.
While checking the plains lakes, be sure to keep an eye to the sky, as swallow diversity also picked up this week, with Barn, Bank, and Northern Rough-winged joining Tree Swallows this week. Violet-green and Cliff Swallows should be right around the corner! American Pipits were also seen on the plains this week.
Sparrows are just starting to make a push into the area, with Savannah Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, and Lincoln's Sparrow seen recently. An unusual find was a Harris's Sparrow along the Greenbelt. Over the next month or so, checking the Greenbelt and other areas with lots of low-lying vegetation around town could produce this species, which shows up regularly along the Front Range in migration. Why shouldn't they come through Laramie?
The first report of a Hermit Thrush in the area came from a residential area on the east side of town. This species should be picking up quite a bit soon, though perhaps they will skip town as some other songbirds have this year and head straight for the mountains!
Two interesting raptor sightings came this past week from the Greenbelt. The first Osprey of the season was seen flying over the river and a juvenile Northern Goshawk was perched in a cottonwood on the north end of the Greenbelt. Keep a look out for Broad-winged Hawks in the coming weeks!
In non-bird news, a massive movement of Painted Lady butterflies into the valley happened this past week, and they are now quite abundant around town. A few whites (Pieris spp.) have also been seen, though I haven't managed to get good enough looks to identify them to species. Wandering Garter Snakes have emerged from their winter hibernacula as well!