Sunday, September 24, 2017

Trip report: Laramie hotspots

This past Saturday, we checked out two of Laramie's best birding spots: Greenhill Cemetery and the Greenbelt at Optimist Park. Despite chilly temps and overcast skies, the birding turned out to be pretty good.

Greenhill Cemetery was quite active, with a large warbler flock consisting of mostly Yellow-rumped Warblers and Wilson's Warblers. However, we also lucked into a Nashville Warbler. A flock of mixed sparrows, including several Clay-colored Sparrows, foraged in the community gardens. A Yellow-shafted Northern Flicker was present among several individuals of the Red-shafted subspecies. We also managed to get the nuthatch slam: Red-breasted, White-breasted, and Pygmy. In total, we encountered 36 species; our complete list is here.

The Greenbelt was not as birdy, but we did add a few species to our day list. Most notably, we had a distant flyby Lewis's Woodpecker. In total we had 27 species; our complete checklist is here.

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Migration Day at Commissary Ridge

HawkWatch International (HWI) announces the beginning of the 15th season of raptor migration research at the Commissary Ridge HawkWatch, located 25 miles north of Kemmerer, Wyoming, and will be co-hosting a migration celebration event.

This area hosts an amazing migration route for raptors traveling south for the winter, however few people are aware of the treasure in their own backyard.  Audubon Rockies, HawkWatch International, and the Wyoming Game and Fish Department have teamed-up to provide free public events on October 6 and 7.

Daly Edmunds, Audubon’s Director of Policy and Outreach in CO and WY, talks about Migration Day, October 6 and 7. "Together, we want to raise awareness and appreciation for these species," said Edmunds. "This is the first time we are offering this event and are really excited to be able to offer a variety of events that not only bring live raptors for people to see up close but also gives people an insider’s look at why Commissary Ridge is such an amazing place to see thousands of raptors each year."

For more information, visit register for these events so that organizers can stay in touch with you should weather conditions change. 

Click here for a downloadable PDF version of the poster.

Migration Day Events Schedule

Friday, Oct 6th – Come enjoy presentations by HWI, Audubon, and WGFD Nongame Biologist Susan Patla. Patla will briefly present about how Game and Fish manages bird (avian) species in WY and about avian species of conservation concern. Snacks will be available as the public learns about the unique migration route that sees thousands of raptors come by Kemmerer every year, and tips shared to help you identify a variety of beautiful birds.  Be ready to be amazed at seeing some of these live birds up close! Presentations will take place at the Kemmerer Public Library, beginning at 6 pm.

Saturday, Oct 7th – Start the day with a bird walk at Lake Viva Naughton, 8 am to 10 am.  If you have binoculars and/or spotting scope, you are welcome to bring them as we explore the lake and learn about the birds that call it home.  Note: Audubon and WGFD will have limited equipment that people can use at the site.

Saturday, Oct 7th – The public is invited to go hawkwatching with experts at Commissary Ridge HawkWatch from 11 am to 5 pm. Participants are welcome to stay as long as they want – to learn about raptor identification and why this area provides such unique opportunities for HWI to conduct migration research. Trapping efforts will be underway and if successful, participants will get to see one or more of these impressive birds up close and learn about measurements collected to help understand the health of our raptors.

This post written by HWI/Audubon Rockies/WYGFD, I just put it up. --Libby

Monday, September 18, 2017

Trip report: Hutton Lake NWR

Despite looming rainclouds, eighteen birders headed out to Hutton Lake NWR on Saturday, September 16. It turned out to be a good decision! We had a sprinkle of rain but then the cloud cover cleared.

I noted more waterfowl on Hutton Lake during this trip than when I was out there a couple of weekends ago, but they were still mostly dabblers and relatively few diving ducks. There are definitely a lot more Eared Grebes out there now, and Redheads are increasing--so hopefully diving duck diversity will pick up in the next few weeks. We found six species of shorebirds as well.

We accumulated 48 species; the highlights were Red-necked Phalaropes, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Horned Grebes, and cooperative Virginia Rail and Sora.

Our full checklist is here.

Birding from the back side of Hutton. Photo by Libby Megna.

Upcoming talk: Buzz Hettick

Please join us next Wednesday, September 27, for a talk by Buzz Hettick from Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. Buzz will discuss issues related to public lands in Wyoming.

As usual, 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 talks will begin at 7:00 pm.

Sunday, September 17, 2017

Higher Ground Fair

Laramie Audubon will have a booth at the Higher Ground Fair, 23 and 24 September. The fair will be open 9 - 6 am on Saturday and 9 - 4 pm on Sunday at the Albany County Fairgrounds.

Visit our booth to find out about our upcoming field trips and programs. We love talking about birds in the area, hearing your bird stories, sharing the best local birding spots, and discussing local conservation projects and priorities. You can also join us for Bird Bingo to win prizes!

Check out Higher Ground's website here to see a list of activities and vendors at the fair. Click here to download a copy of the poster.

Upcoming trip: Laramie hotspots

Join us on a journey through the best birding spots within Laramie this Saturday, September 23. We'll look for migrating songbirds, especially warblers and sparrows. We usually visit Greenhill Cemetery, Labonte Park, and the Greenbelt. This is a great outing for beginning birders or families.

We will meet at 8 am at Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse downtown to carpool. Bring binoculars and field guides, dress for the weather, and bring water and snacks. If you'd like to meet up with us later in the morning, feel free to email to find out where we're at.

Lincoln's Sparrow

Monday, September 11, 2017

Citizens' Climate Lobby events

Our local chapter of the Citizens' Climate Lobby has a couple of events this week. See the poster below if you'd like to get involved in climate action locally! Click here to download a copy of the poster.

Note that the Encana Auditorium is in the Energy Innovation Center at the University of Wyoming. The Advocacy Training event on the 15th will be a good chance to learn about the Carbon Fee and Dividend proposal.

Sunday, September 10, 2017

Trip report: Hereford Ranch

Photo by Laurel Armstrong.
On Saturday, September 9, twenty birders joined our trip to the Wyoming Hereford Ranch in Cheyenne. And it turned out to be a beautiful day with excellent birds!

We found a total of 48 species. The highlights were a Blackpoll Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, and Red-eyed Vireo. We also found a Blue Grosbeak and Cassin's Kingbird--not unexpected for Laramie County, but not always easy to find. Sparrows were lacking but there were flocks of finches--including more Lesser Goldfinches than I have seen all in one place.

The eBird checklist with photos of the rare warblers is here.

Blue Grosbeak. Photo by Nate Behl.

Upcoming trip: Hutton Lake NWR

We will bird Hutton Lake National Wildlife Refuge this Saturday, September 16. The refuge is one of the best places to bird during waterfowl migration. We should see dabbling and diving ducks of a variety of species, and hopefully will luck into some shorebirds. Hutton also hosted a Little Gull in September 2013, so keep a sharp eye out!

We will meet at Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse at 8 am to preemptively caffeinate and carpool. Please bring binoculars, a spotting scope if you have one, field guides, and snacks and drinks. Be prepared for windy conditions. Our trips to Hutton usually last until noon, but anyone is free to leave early if they bring their own vehicle or coordinate with carpool buddies.

Little Gull

Thursday, September 7, 2017

Project Nest Watch report by the Laramie Girl Scouts

Girl Scouts checking nest boxes at Hutton NWR,
photo by Lisa Cox
Please join us for our upcoming evening program, next Thursday, September 14.  Bird chat starts at 5:30 pm, and the program will begin at 6 pm pm. Please note the day and time change for this program, as compared to our regularly schedules evening programs.

The Laramie Girl Scouts have been working with the Laramie Audubon Society all summer to check Tree Swallow nest boxes out at Hutton National Wildlife Refuge.  They will report back to us on what they learned about bird nesting biology and ecology this summer, as well as describing their experiences with checking nest boxes, and giving us their findings from a summer spent on the refuge.

We will meet in the Berry Center auditorium. Parking adjacent to the building is free after 5 pm. Bird chat and refreshments begin at 6:40 pm, and the talk will begin at 7:10 pm.

Monday, September 4, 2017

Laramie Bird Notes (8/24 - 9/4)

Migrant activity has been really good over the past week, especially in the songbird department. Although the Laramie Valley doesn't generally get a great diversity of warblers in migration, a respectable 11 species were recorded this past week. Orange-crowned and Yellow-rumped Warblers seem to have made a decent push into town recently, while a few Yellow Warbler reports may be some of our last for this early migrating warbler. In addition to the expected migrant warblers, we also had reports of two unusual species for our area, Black-and-White Warbler and Magnolia Warbler. Good places to find migrating warblers include Greenhill Cemetery, UW campus, the Greenbelt, and generally anywhere with lots of trees. Rock Creek Canyon on the north tip of the Snowy Range can be quite good for warblers in fall migration.

Magnolia Warbler. Photo by Nate Behl.

In other songbird news, a decent selection of vireo species has been found around town lately, including Warbling, Red-eyed, Cassin's, and Plumbeous. Sparrows are also on the move, with a few juncos (both Gray-headed and Pink-sided) and Clay-colored Sparrows being seen around town, as well as gobs of Chipping Sparrows. Chipping Sparrows have actually been moving out of the mountains since mid-July, on their way to wetter and more productive regions to complete their molt.

Flycatchers have also put on a good show lately. In town, several Empidonax species have been moving through, including Dusky, Hammond's, Gray, and Willow, along with Olive-sided Flycatcher and lots of Western Wood-Pewees. Further out on the plains, Western and Eastern Kingbirds continue to move through. Be sure to check those yellow kingbirds closely for a Cassin's, or maybe even something more unusual!

In addition to a few miscellaneous songbirds such as Hermit Thrush, Gray Catbird, and Western Tanager around town, crossbills are still around in decent numbers, though the big push of types 3 and 4 has calmed down a bit lately. Most Red Crossbills around right now are type 2. Even more exciting, an immature White-winged Crossbill was seen at Greenhill Cemetery in a flock of Reds, so be sure to pick through those crossbill flocks carefully! Crossbills moving through are really struggling to find food, so now is a good time to make sure your feeders are filled -- you might get lucky and have a flock visit for a while!

Compared to last week we have several more waterbird species to report. Baird's Sandpiper, Least Sandpiper, Solitary Sandpiper, Lesser Yellowlegs, Greater Yellowlegs, and Semipalmated Plover are some of the more notable shorebird species. Other waterbirds include good numbers of Franklin's Gulls and White-faced Ibis. Despite modest effort at searching Hutton Lake and Lake Hattie for jeagers and rare gulls, nothing has been found. Those intent on finding these and other rare waterbird species should continue to monitor these lakes, as several reports from Colorado and other nearby states have really picked up recently.

Baird's Sandpiper. Photo by Shawn Billerman.
 A couple noteworthy birds that didn't really fit well into the rest of the post include Rufous Hummingbirds (which will likely leave our area entirely in the next couple weeks) around the Berry Center on campus and a somewhat early Merlin on the Greenbelt.

Sunday, September 3, 2017

Upcoming trip: Hereford Ranch

Our next field trip is this Saturday, September 09. We'll head to the Wyoming Hereford Ranch on the east side of Cheyenne. The riparian areas at the Hereford Ranch host an incredible array of expected migrants and often deliver rarities. This trip is a particularly nice one for beginning birders.

Meet downtown at Night Heron Books & Coffeehouse at 7 am to caffeinate and carpool. We will get back to Laramie at noon--if you can only join us for part of the time, be prepared to drive your own vehicle.

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.

Birding at Hereford last fall. Photo by Libby Megna.