Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Field Notes 6.22.12 Volunteering

 We love birdwatching and being out in nature, whether on a high mountain pass or under a tree in our backyard.  We also want to do all we can to protect birds and the natural world. One way we have chosen to help is by volunteering with the Friends of the San Luis Valley National Wildlife Refuges.  At the Alamosa National Wildlife Refuge, Diane and I work as docents at the visitor center. This is just a great thing to do. Not only do we get to introduce people to the refuge, we get to talk with birders from around the country and the world. We also get plenty of time to look at the vast amounts of birds that use the refuge.

On this particular early morning we saw a Wilson’s snipe up high on a power pole as we arrived at the refuge. This was an unusual place to see a snipe as they are usually near the ground. Throughout the morning we saw white-faced ibises and red-winged blackbirds. A colony of cliff swallows make the visitor center patio their home and it is just thrilling to watch them flying in and out of their mud-dobbed nests. We saw robins eating yellow berries from a bush, an eastern kingbird on a post and hawks flying in the distance.
A couple from New Mexico came into the visitor center and said they had seen a black tern when they had visited the refuge two weeks ago and were hoping to see it again on the trip back home. After our shift at the visitor center we drove the auto loop and we also saw the black tern swooping over the marshes as well as coots, mallards and cinnamon teals -- all with fussy little babies nearby. We also saw yellow-headed blackbirds and meadowlarks.  We heard the gurgling calls of an American bittern and the winnowing of a Wilson’s snipe.
Please come and see us at the national wildlife refuges here in the San Luis Valley. We have great birding year around and there are surprises everywhere.

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