Monday, April 9, 2012

Field Notes 4.7.12

Our first stop of the day was Home Lake near Monte Vista. Seeing no new visitors we continued on undaunted.

At Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area we set out on the nature trail where we saw and heard a western meadowlark perched atop a low shrub. A little further on we spotted an American bittern standing stiffly with its neck and beak stretched in the air. Off in the distance were northern harriers circling the fields and two red-tailed hawks soaring high in the sky.
We were surprised to see a lone sandhill crane flying over the wetlands. We dubbed it, “The Last Sandhill,” as it appears to be the last sandhill left in the Valley.
Johnson Lake was full of mallards, cinnamon teals, northern shovelers and buffleheads. Near the parking area we heard and saw several song sparrows. We then cruised County Road T north of the SWA and were rewarded with a first sighting of the year of a loggerhead shrike. We observed it as it flew from a power pole to a fence top, down to the ground and back up to the power pole. 
From Russell Lakes we drove west to La Garita and then on to La Ventana (Spanish for window), also known as Natural Arch. We saw a Clark’s nutcracker, mountain bluebirds and mountain chickadees.
On the return trip to Alamosa we decided to stop again at Home Lake. Compared to the morning stop, Home Lake was bustling with activity at 3 p.m. We saw two great blue herons flying north of Rio Grande SWA. On the lake were about 30 American white pelicans. We also recorded first sightings of the year of white-faced ibises and Franklin’s gulls.
A great birdwatching day.

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