The Last Week of May

I took vacation days for the final three days of the week. On Tuesday after work, I walked down to Monument Branch. I shot this Black-billed Magpie on the lawn at Compassion HQ. I  know I’ve taken a lot of photos of magpies, but I’m still searching for the perfect shot of the blue and green sheen on their wings and tails. This is close.

Monument Branch isn’t what it used to be. With all the construction going on, there are a lot fewer birds. In the second shot of this Western Wood-Pewee, I though the light through the tail feathers was interesting. Unfortunately, I didn’t get the entire bird in the photo.

Lesser Goldfinch seen on the way home.

On Saturday, Sally and I drove to Lake George and spent three hours in Elevenmile Canyon. At first, we got on the wrong road and happened upon a pond with three American White Pelicans.

When we finally got turned around, we spotted two Clark’s Nutcrackers along the road. These two shots are of the same bird.

Common Mergansers in the South Platte River in Elevenmile Canyon.

Townsend’s Solitaire

We pulled over in a quite stretch of the canyon and ate the picnic lunch Sally prepared. There were many birds around, including this Gray Catbird.

The top two photos are looking upstream and downstream from the spot where we ate lunch.

On Thursday, I drove to southeast Colorado, south of La Junta, to look for Gray Vireos. I’m 60% sure I saw one on County Road 197.6 (really), but it disappeared before I could get a photo or a satisfying look, so I just can’t pull the trigger. The other road where they’ve been seen this spring had aggressive No Trespassing signs, so I skipped it and birded Higbee Valley. It was near midday by this time, so there wasn’t a whole lot of birds around.

Cassin’s Kingbird

Blue Grosbeak

Lark Sparrow

Red-headed Woodpecker

I stopped at Holbrook Reservoir north of Rocky Ford on the way home. I parked on the north side and walked along the shore. There were a few shorebirds and ducks left, but not many. I missed the path to my car on the way back and walked an extra mile, but that’s OK because it led me to my first Colorado Snowy Plover.

Lousy photo but a fun pose

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Aiken Canyon

It’s Memorial Day weekend. Nobody is allowed up into the mountains because of the ongoing virus silliness. Sunday and Monday are supposed to be rainy. So I figured everybody would be out today. I was right. When I got to Aiken Canyon, which I often have to myself, at 7:00 am, there were already four cars in the lot. Two hours later when I got back to the trail head, there were probably 15. And I kept running into people on the trails, even when I took the rarely-walked trail up into the canyon itself.

Here’s some of what I saw.

Ash-throated Flycatcher

Western Bluebird

Female Broad-tailed Hummingbird making a nest

Plumeous Vireo

Cassin’s Kingbird

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Reptile/Amphibian #31 — Greater Short-horned Lizard

phrynosoma hernandesi

Thursday, May 21, 2020 — 3:45 pm

Pawnee National Grassland — Road 47

I was driving carefully along the tire tracks that were all there was to Road 47 when I saw what looked like a toad in one of the ruts. I pulled over to avoid running it over and looked down on it. The body was flat, and I wondered at first if it had been squished but then I saw that the head was moving. I pulled forward and parked, then walked back to it.

It put up with me crouching down and taking photos from inches away for a couple minutes, then scurried away along the rut. I decided I’d given it enough grief, and we went our separate ways.

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