Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Field Notes 4.22.12

Our intended destination today was the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, but we were quickly sidetracked by a flooded farm field just east of Splashland off Hwy. 17. On one side of the county road we saw white-faced ibises, ring-billed gulls and water fowl. Hordes of yellow-headed blackbirds and red-winged blackbirds filled the nearby trees. The north field, also foot deep in water, was host to lesser yellowlegs, Wilson’s phalaropes, killdeer, ducks and geese.

We then headed up to the Sand Dunes, ate our picnic lunch while being serenaded by a chickadee and then hiked near the dunes/pinon boundary. The mid-day hike was not a good time to spot birds there, so we headed to the Mountville Nature Trail where we heard a northern flicker and saw a white-breasted nuthatch. Our next destination was Denton Spring, where we did our Christmas bird count. The area was alive with pinyon jays, scrub jays, Townsend’s solitaires, nuthatches, chickadees and robins.  We got back in the car and drove south to Medano-Zapata Ranch nature trail. We immediately spotted a yellow-rumped warbler, our first warbler of the season. Our next sighting was a pair of western bluebirds. As we rounded the nature trail, we spotted a peregrine falcon which stayed stationary long enough for us to identify its dark hood. Nuthatches, a northern flicker and mountain bluebirds enlivened our hike. We saw two Clark’s nutcrackers in trees as we left the Nature Conservancy property.
Returning to our fair town of Alamosa we decided to make one more stop at the flooded farm fields. We were glad we did because we identified a long-billed dowitcher, a first sighting for us.

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