Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Saying Goodbye to Winter

Mountain Bluebird

Weeks before, it was cold, snowy, and dangerously icy.* Now it is spring . . . 60° F, tender green grass sprouts, and budding willows. Best of all, spring migration has brightened the landscape with colorful birds returning for the upcoming breeding season.

The last weeks of winter only provided a few new SWSA birds: Northern Harrier (seen on the first run back in Colorado as it was getting mobbed by a couple rambunctious crows while flying over the snow-covered outskirts of Lyons), Pine Siskin (seen at a birdfeeder in Lyons), White-crowned Sparrow (heard along a ditch just above Lyons High School on the same day as the Pine Siskin), Mountain Bluebird (bright male seen on a 10 mile run in our neighborhood), Clark’s Nutcracker (a few fly-overs during a 3 mile loop in our neighborhood), Red Crossbill (a dozen or so type two crossbills chirping in a dense section of Ponderosa Pines), Cooper’s Hawk (an immature female flew over while running on the track at the Lyons High School).

On the 19th of March we stopped at Walden Ponds near Boulder, so Marcel could go birding, while I ran at Walden and the adjacent Sawhill Ponds. Both sites are the product of a land reclamation project at an old gravel mining operation near Boulder Creek.

American Wigeon

Tundra Swan (a bird that has been around Boulder County all winter) and American Wigeon

Bird List for when I was running at Walden/Sawhill Ponds:
Tundra Swan - New SWSA Bird
Canada Goose
Green-winged Teal - New SWSA Bird
Gadwall - New SWSA Bird
American Wigeon
Ring-necked Duck
Common Goldeneye
American Coot
Killdeer - New SWSA Bird
Greater Yellowlegs - New SWSA Bird
Ring-billed Gull
Eurasian Collared Dove
Belted Kingfisher
Downy Woodpecker
Northern Flicker
Black-capped Chickadee
American Robin
European Starling
Song Sparrow
Red-winged Blackbird
House Finch

2011 SWSA Totals
Miles Run=200

*An example of “dangerous ice:”
After about 7” inches of snow fell on the ground, we were out for a run and Masai’s feet suddenly slipped out from under him. His abrupt slam onto the road resulted in some injuries. He’s been struggling with his knee ever since and has had to suffer a severely curtailed running schedule, which has resulted in his missing the first three track meets of his season.

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