Our Last Day in Colorado

On our last day in Colorado Jen and the kids were busy getting ready for their upcoming trip to Puerto Rico, so Tyson took us on a much-needed walk before we started our long drive to Santa Rosa.  There weren’t quite as many birds as we had seen on previous walks, but I managed to get a  nice shot of a Northern Flicker marching across the field

Northern Flicker

and of a Great Blue Heron dining on frog legs.

Great Blue Heron eating frog

With few birds in sight, I shifted my attention to the nearby flora and was delighted by the many flowers along the trail, particularly since I had no idea what they might be.

The only one that looked familiar was this one, which looked like a dandelion.  I’m not sure it really is a dandelion, though.  If it is, Colorado produces much bigger dandelions than the  Pacific Northwest does.

We’ve gone to Colorado so often in the last twenty years that it seems quite familiar, but it only takes a short walk to realize that there’s still much we don’t know about it. Of course, the same could be true of Theler Wetlands which we walk much more often.

East Lake 3 Park and Nature Preserve

There’s usually at least one day when we’re visiting the Colorado Websters when everyone is busy.  On days like that, I like to drive a few miles down the road to East Lake 3 Park and Nature Preserve in Thornton to bird where I can count on seeing birds I seldom see at home.

On this trip the first one we saw was a male Blue-Winged Teal, a bird I have only seen once in the Puget Sound area.

male Blue-winged Teal

We didn’t have to walk much further to see a Spotted Sandpiper in the same area where I’ve seen one on previous visits.

Spotted Sandpiper

I can usually count on seeing some American Avocet and found these two particularly intriguing because the one on the right was so much smaller than the one on the left and the two seemed to be together.  I wondered if the smaller one was this year’s chick, but the plumage appears to indicate it’s an adult, not a juvenile.

Avocet with Canada Goose

Studying the avocets did lead me to a nearby sighting, a Killdeer chick with an adult.  

Killdeer Chick

If my memory doesn’t fail me, this is the only place I’ve managed to get shots of Killdeer chicks.

About halfway around the trail, there’s a boardwalk that heads out into a forest of reeds that is full of Red-winged Blackbirds.   This juvenile Redwing seemed as interested in us as we were in him.

juvenile Red-winged Blackbird

The male Red-winged Blackbird seemed more intent on seeing if we were a threat to his kingdom before grudgingly flying off.

There’s a small pond near the end of the walk where you can glimpse ducks and  Avocets up close if you can find a space between the dense reeds that surround the pool

American Avocet

We didn’t see the White Pelicans we’ve seen here in the past but I only noticed that while reflecting on the walk.  I was too busy seeing what was there to worry about what wasn’t there.

Those Were My Favorites, Jackie

Despite the fact that I often see Great Blue Heron and Osprey in the Puget Sound Area and I rarely see the Eastern Kingbird, Blue Jay, or the Western Wood-Pewee, my favorite shots of the day were this one of a Great Blue Heron building a nest on the top of a very tall tree    

Great Blue Heron Building Nest

and of a pair of Ospreys in a nest with a young chick.

Osprey Pair with Chick

I am well aware that Great Blue Herons nest in trees; there are even several rookeries in the Puget Sound Area, but I’ve never personally seen them.

I have seen several Osprey Nests, but I have never seen one with both parents, much less with a chick.  It doesn’t hurt that it’s a classic family pose, either.

Thanks, Jackie

During our visit to Tyson’s family we happened to have dinner with Jackie, Jen’s sister,  to celebrate her birthday and she mentioned that she was starting to bird and that Jen had referred her to my web page.  A couple of days later she called and asked if we would like to go birding with her to a spot where I had never birded (there are a lot of places like that in Colorado).  We agreed to meet the next morning.  

It turned out to be a great place to bird with a wide variety of birds, like this Eastern Kingbird, 

Eastern Kingbird

this Eurasian Collared-Dove,

Eurasian Collared-Dove

a personal favorite, this Blue Jay (not a Stellar, Scrub, or Canada jay —sometimes referred to as Blue Jays by non-birders), 

Blue Jay

and this Western Wood-Pewee, a bird I wouldn’t have recognized if it hadn’t been called out by a better birder than I am (and confirmed by Merlin).  

Western Wood-Pewee

Surprisingly, these weren’t my favorite sightings of the day.

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