Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Field Notes 2.25.12

Driving west on Alamosa CR 8 our goal was the Monte Vista refuge. We brought a sandwich to share for our sundown supper.  On the east side of the refuge we saw a bald eagle surveying his domain from the top of a tree.  A western meadowlark landed on the chico nearby and serenaded us with a song about spring.

We spent quite a bit of time trying to identify what we thought were dark brown sparrows flitting through the chico. Our best guess was that they might be vesper sparrows but that species usually doesn’t arrive in the San Luis Valley until mid-spring. Later at home we decided we had seen a flock of female red-winged blackbirds – a rookie mistake.
Undaunted—we continued on (Reed knows the story behind that phrase).
At the refuge viewing area along Hwy. 15 we were entertained by flocks of Canada geese and sandhill cranes landing to the east and to the west. The setting sun turned Mount Blanca red, bathing the birds in a reddish glow. The honking geese, trilling cranes and quacking ducks provided more spring music.
Before darkness arrived we headed into the refuge and parked near a big slough. This was the closest we had been to the cranes as they parachuted down from the darkening skies. We had close up views of their red caps and brown feathers on their rumps. We shared our sandwich and chips and took in the wonder of it all.
As we drove away from the refuge we made a pledge that on the next weekend we’ll return early in the morning to watch the sun rise and witness the cranes’ morning lift off.

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