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