January 23: Prospect Lake, led by Risë Foster-Bruder
In what was probably the shortest AAS field trip in history (it lasted all of 20 minutes), nine intrepid birders met at Prospect Lake in Memorial Park to look at wintering ducks. With a very chilly wind coming off the lake, we observed Mallards, Northern Shovelers, American Wigeons, American Coots, Canada Geese—at least one Cackling and probably several Lesser, Common Mergansers, Hooded Mergansers, Ring-Necked Ducks, Gadwall, Ring-Billed Gulls, American Crows, Herring Gull, Bufflehead and Common Goldeneye.
February 6 and March 6: Eagles!, led by Gary Conover
February Eagles Trip
They’re there! Eagles that is. Fifteen Audubon Eagle watchers braved a cool and foggy February morning to head south along Hanover and Meridian Roads in search of raptors. We spied a fair number of Red Tailed Hawks and a few American Kestrels at Clear Springs Ranch. There is an active prairie dog colony north of the ranch buildings (although a little smaller colony than I remembered from past years).
Along Hanover road, our car caravan slowed down for a Kestrel which led us to our first Ferruginous Hawk of the day perched on one of the double high power poles that dot the landscape east of Fountain Creek. On the way to the Pinon Truck Stop we found more red tails, a Northern Harrier and two more Ferruginous Hawks and a spectacular horse herd on the run …but no eagles, yet. Entering the North entrance to the State Wildlife Area, we scanned the water/ice edge and were rewarded with long range views of two adult Bald Eagles. On our way to the visitor center on the southeast side of the reservoir we spotted an immature Bald Eagle (2nd year?) being harassed playfully by a pair of Ravens. We spent the late morning enjoying Pueblo Reservoir Eagle Days hosted by Arkansas Valley Audubon and the Colorado Division of Wildlife. The Visitor Center was a beehive of activity with several information stations and the Pueblo Raptor Rehabilitation Center live education bird display. Before we turned home we were lucky to have the US Air Force Academy falconry club show off their wonderful collection of Gyr/Saker Falcon hybrids and Prairie Falcons.
Thanks to all who were able to come and enjoy the day, Gary Conover
March Eagles Trip
Yes, we did the Eagles trip again. Weather much improved from February. A good number of Red Tailed Hawks south of Colorado Springs and a surprise Prairie Falcon near Hanover and Old Pueblo Highway. American Kestrel, Common Raven, singing Western Meadow Larks, Horned Larks, and unlimited views of the snow capped Spanish Peaks and Sangre de Christo Mountains highlighted our trip down Meridian road. Entered the Pueblo Reservoir State Wildlife Area (not a fee area) and spotted our target bird, an adult Bald Eagle on the ice/water boundary later joined by another two adults and an immature. Old Squaw alert! Our lucky day, we got close in views of a Long-Tailed Duck working the ice edge. Herring and Ring-Billed Gulls in good numbers dotted the ice along with Common Merganser and Common Golden Eye. We wandered to the site of the former Pueblo Nature Center and were surprised to see first, three Barn Owls roosting in a hole in the bluff and then that the Rio Café was open and thriving! A final stop and the Pueblo Raptor Rehabilitation Center with a cat who purred 10 times louder than any cat I’ve ever heard topped a grand day birding. Thanks to the docents at the Pueblo Nature Center site and the Raptor Center for their help. Gary Conover
April 17: Cheyenne Mountain State Park, led by Debbie Barnes
It was cold, rainy and a bit windy. Only two hardy souls showed up and we saw and heard a few birds. We cut it short at 9:40am. No pictures because it was very wet. We got very muddy shoes on the small part of the trails we walked. We gained at least 5 pounds per foot.
Birds seen:Western Bluebird (several pairs), Say’s Phoebe (2 pairs), Western Meadowlark, Spotted Towhees, Black-billed Magpies (including one on a nest), American Robins, American Crows, Pine Siskins, Scrub Jay, European Starlings
September 19: Chico Basin Ranch, led by John Drummond
The trip list is divided into two parts by county.
El Paso County—45 species: Scaled Quail 10, Cooper’s Hawk 1, Mourning Dove 8, Barn Owl 3, Common Nighthawk 1, Downy Woodpecker 1, Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 5. Western Wood-Pewee 3. Loggerhead Shrike 2. Plumbeous Vireo 1. Cassin’s Vireo 1. Blue Jay 4. Horned Lark 4. Barn Swallow 18. White-breasted Nuthatch 2. Rock Wren 1. House Wren 2. Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1. Townsend’s Solitaire 1. Gray Catbird 2. Northern Mockingbird 2. Brown Thrasher 1. Curve-billed Thrasher 2. European Starling 12. Orange-crowned Warbler 1. Yellow-rumped Warbler 1. American Redstart 2. Wilson’s Warbler 9. Green-tailed Towhee 1. Chipping Sparrow 12. Clay-colored Sparrow 1. Vesper Sparrow 22. Lark Sparrow 3. Lark Bunting 4. Savannah Sparrow 1. Song Sparrow 3. White-crowned Sparrow 2. Western Tanager 1. Blue Grosbeak 3. Lazuli Bunting 2. Red-winged Blackbird 3. Western Meadowlark 3. Bullock’s Oriole 1. House Finch 4. American Goldfinch 2.
Pueblo County— 55 species:American Wigeon 2. Mallard 14, Blue-winged Teal 8, Northern Shoveler 12, Northern Pintail 2, Green-winged Teal 22, Great Blue Heron 1, Green Heron 1, White-faced Ibis 14, Turkey Vulture 3, Red-tailed Hawk 1, American Kestrel 1, Virginia Rail 3, Killdeer 34, Marbled Godwit 1, Western Sandpiper 6, Least Sandpiper 4, Baird’s Sandpiper 15, Pectoral Sandpiper 2, Wilson’s Phalarope 2, Mourning Dove 6, Great Horned Owl 1, Belted Kingfisher 1, Ladder-backed Woodpecker 2, Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) 3, Western Wood-Pewee 2, Say’s Phoebe 1, Plumbeous Vireo 1, Horned Lark 6, Barn Swallow 14, Red-breasted Nuthatch 1, White-breasted Nuthatch 2, Rock Wren 1, Ruby-crowned Kinglet 1, Hermit Thrush 1, American Robin 6, Gray Catbird 1, Northern Mockingbird 2, Sage Thrasher 5, Curve-billed Thrasher 2, European Starling 18, Orange-crowned Warbler 1, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) 4, Common Yellowthroat 1, Chipping Sparrow 8, Vesper Sparrow 10, Lark Bunting 2, Song Sparrow 3, Lincoln’s Sparrow 2, White-crowned Sparrow 2, Red-winged Blackbird 8, Western Meadowlark 4, Yellow-headed Blackbird 12, House Finch 3, House Sparrow 8.
September 25: Kettle Creek, led by Risë Foster-Bruder
Four intrepid birders joined me Saturday morning at Kettle Creek Lakes for an early morning field trip. It started out chilly with a gorgeous, nearly full moon starting to set over the Academy and we experienced “Dawn Chorus.” We walked the abandoned railroad track and around the ponds for a little more than three hours. Our best bird was a female Merlin who perched very nicely for us atop a dead tree snag so everyone got great, thorough views of her.
Birds seen: American Robin, Belted Kingfisher, Northern Flicker, Black-billed Magpie, Brewer’s Blackbird, Mourning Dove, American Crow, Double-crested Cormorant, Black-capped Chickadee, Chipping Sparrow, Downy Woodpecker, Canada Goose, House Finch, American Kestrel, Red-winged Blackbird, Dark-eyed Junco (Slate-colored), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Pine Siskin, Western Scrub Jay, Great Blue Heron, Blue Jay, Spotted Towhee, Lesser Goldfinch (Green-backed), White-breasted Nuthatch, Merlin, Ferruginous Hawk, Red-tailed Hawk.