Things I Saw and Did in June

This was a slow month. I read. I watched TV. I hiked and birded on the weekends. That is all.

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Catamount Reservoir

I hiked to Catamount Reservoir from Green Mountain Falls—a hike I’ve made twice before with coworkers and friends. It was a beautiful day, although a bit warm and the trails were crowded. A touch of altitude sickness prevented me from spending as much time by the reservoir as I wanted, but I survived to tell the tale.

Band-tailed Pigeons were in their usual spot along the road to the trail head. The one in the top photo without the white band on its neck is a young one.

Two different Cordilleran Flycatchers seen a couple miles away from each other.

The Garden of Eden Meadow, which is pretty but overrated. I can think of several dozen prettier spots in the state.

Red-naped Sapsucker

Olive-sided Flycatcher singing its “Quick! Three beers!” song.

Tree Swallow

Pikes Peak

South Catamount Reservoir from the dam. The shores were lined with fishermen and picnickers, and the trails were almost single-file at times.

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Back to Elevenmile Canyon

When I looked at my Eleven Mile Canyon bird list after my last visit, I saw that I was only four birds away from to top of the list of most species seen there. And there is a trail to an overlook I haven’t hiked. And I like the place. And I wanted to go somewhere to get away from the nonsense.

I expected it to be packed on a summer Saturday, and it was, but there were still a lot of birds around. In addition to the overlook trail, I also walked a mile down a side road called Wagon Tongue Gulch. I ended up with 38 species and now have top spot on the list by 10.

The view from the overlook.

Violet-green Swallow

Broat-tailed Hummingbird

I spent a long time looking for this Warbling Vireo before I realized it was singing from its nest. That doesn’t seem like a wise thing to do, but 40 minutes later, I found a second one doing the same thing. These two photos were taken about eight miles apart.

Preening Ruby-crowned Kinglet

Green-tailed Towhee

MacGillivray’s Warbler

Red-naped Sapsucker. I was sitting on a rock about 30 yards from the hole, waiting for the bird to show itself. When it did, it flew right towards me and landed on a small pine about 15 feet away.

Cordilleran Flycatcher

American Dipper. A pair were constructing a nest on the side of a rock in the middle of the river. Unless there was a hidden ledge, I have no idea how they got the nest to stay there.

Ospreys have built a nest in a dead tree about 20 yards upstream.

Mule Deer

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When I saw that Wednesday was forecasted to be clear with a high of 71°, I decided to take the day off and explore. I spent the morning in Elevenmile Canyon and then after lunch I went to Eleven Mile State Park. Here’s what I saw.

Juvenile Bald Eagle that hasn’t yet left the nest. I’ve never seen one this gray before. I even wondered if it was a Golden Eagle, but the size of the bill and the lack of white on the tail (which is clear from a photo I haven’t posted) convinced me it’s a Bald Eagle.

American Dipper. I first saw it standing on a partly-submerged log near shore, but it soon flew out into the river and walked through and under the water for several minutes.

I think this is a Least Chipmunk.

Violet-green Swallow. I’m still trying to get a good photo of this bird. Note the odd combination of jade green on the back and olive green on the head. In the flying photos, you can definitely see how it got its name.

Male and female Common Mergansers. I’ve found it very difficult to catch the green on the head in photos, until this shot.

I drove all the way up the canyon, stopping wherever it looked birdy and walking. I found one trail—longer than I expected—that led uphill to an overlook. I wasn’t prepared for the walk—I hadn’t brought water—but I survived, and that’s where I saw many of the birds.

Other photos of the South Platte River in no particular order.

I ended up with 39 birds, although no new ones for the year. I was surprised to find out that today rocketed me up to second place on the list of birds seen here. If I had known that, I would have stuck around a little more and seen four more species to take the lead. The place is beautiful, but except for on the trail to the overlook, I was never more than 20 yards from the road, and traffic is steady and dusty.

After grabbing a mediocre cheeseburger and fries that tasted like fish chips in Florissant, I drove to Eleven Mile State Park and explored.

On one of the larger islands of rock, there was a mixed rookery of Double-crested Cormorants, California Gulls, and American White Pelicans. I tried to get closer for better photos, but someone was camping on the point that came closest and it wasn’t all that close anyway.

This California Gull dove into the lake near the shore about 30 yards away from me and came up with a huge crayfish. It carried it up on shore and proceeded to destroy it.

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Birds of New Mexico

Other birds I saw in the sagebrush flats around Costilla, New Mexico.

Brewer’s Sparrow

Swainson’s Hawk

Golden Eagle

I also saw several Sage Thrashers, a Prairie Falcon, and some more common birds. I stopped briefly at two more places on the way home, but other than a first-of-the-year White-throated Swift that buzzed by, I saw nothing of note. By midday, it was hot and windy and lousy for birding. In fact, the reason why I was out on a Friday is because I saw that Saturday was forecasted to be stormy and windy so asked my boss if I could take off Friday and work Saturday. I got home on Friday afternoon around 2:30.

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