Friday, January 27, 2012

Beep Beep!

Been reports of a greater
roadrunner along Dinosaur Ridge at the foot of the mountains for the past month or two. This is very far north for roadrunners, so it has been a very popular birding activity in the area. I'd been out four times looking for it before I finally saw it yesterday. Beautiful sunny day, very little wind, in the upper 50s. Sat for about two hours at one of the spots where it has been seen frequently, talking with some fellow birders, waiting for the bird to show. Finally a lady on a bicycle came down the road and said birders further up the road were seeing the bird. I hustled up there, and sure enough there it was. Got a few shots, but it was pretty far up the slope and in and out of the scrub oak. Even though there was only about a half hour or so of sun left, I decided to hike around the corner and see if I could catch it from above and get a bit closer. I no sooner topped the ridge and there it was. I got some pretty good shots. Observed it for a good twenty minutes as it worked along the slope below me.

The big speculation has been about just what is the bird eating around here this time of year?Certainly aren't many little snakes, lizards or bugs out this time of year along the Front Range. People have reported seeing it pecking at the ground like it's finding bugs. Of course, juniper berries are very plentiful up along Dinosaur Ridge, but not much protein in those. I did observe the bird pecking at things along the ground, but couldn't tell what it was after. I certainly didn't see many bugs around. A couple of flies, that was about it. I also observed the bird sharpening its beak on rocks, and it took a quick dust bath while I watched it. Didn't get a shot of it.

With all the juniper berries on the slopes, there are plenty of Townsend's solitaires around. Got a couple of shots of one.

Pretty cool to go out and find a rare bird like that. Took my mom out around Barr Lake earlier in the month to look for a reported snowy owl. We found it, and but it was quite far off in a field, much too far for a decent shot. Some other birders allowed us to look through their high powered spotting scope, so we got some pretty good looks. Mom found it quite thrilling to see such a rare bird.