Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Field Notes 6.23.12
After a breakfast burrito in Monte Vista we headed north on Hwy. 285 to Russell Lakes State Wildlife Area. Upon our arrival we were teased by a small yellow bird with olive wings but its flitting and darting in the green leaves of the narrow leaf cottonwood trees that ring the parking area made a positive identification difficult. After several minutes of chasing the warbler with our binoculars we moved on to Johnson Lake.
Near the beginning of the trail we saw a large brown bird, and then another, fly into the reeds. Its neck was pulled up against its shoulders like a heron in flight but because of the brown color we decided it was an American bittern. At the lake we saw two snowy egrets and a black-crowned night heron. The water held a ruddy duck (Diane’s favorite duck), American coots, gadwalls and mallards – all with their newly hatched babies. Two American avocets searched for food along the shallow shoreline.
Back at the parking we searched again for the little warbler and Diane got a good look at the dark cap of its head. She recognized it as a Wilson’s warbler and I concurred. A western wood peewee landed on a bare branch and let me have a good view of it.
We then headed up to Bonanza, a former mining district, northwest of Saguache. By then the weather was hot, dry and windy. We ate our picnic lunch but saw few birds so we headed back home down Hwy. 17. We saw some hawks and swallows along the way. When we started our birdwatching odyssey we knew that part of the adventure would be exploring the Valley as well as seeing birds.