Sunday, February 19, 2012
Field Notes 2.18.12
A rough-legged hawk and a golden eagle were our first observations of the day as we drove out to the Bluff Overlook at the Alamosa NWR. At Hansen’s Bluff the only sign of life was a herd of elk, their dark brown hides contrasting with the golden dried grasses and white ice of the frozen playas. Hiking down the trail south of the bluff we saw a bald eagle in a tree and another on the wing. A little dark bird flew across the trail only to be lost in the tall yellow grass and left unidentified.
We then headed east into Costilla County on Boulder Road and saw several flocks of fast flying horned larks. Our destination was Smith Reservoir, where Brian had found open water at mid-lake and on the eastern shore while ice fishing on Feb. 17. Ducks were plentiful and included mallards, northern pintails, lesser scaups, common golden-eyes and a couple of redheads. Our spotting scope perched on the truck tailgate was invaluable for identifying the birds. Canada geese mingled with about 100 sandhill cranes – a surprise sighting. Driving back to Alamosa across Estrella Road we saw more hawks, eagles and some really mean farm dogs.