I spent the weekend in Cortez birding with my father (and running errands for my mother). We got out at least once a day, with our birding more than slightly modified by thunderstorms in the afternoons. We never did manage to get up in the high country, but we spent a lot of time down low and in the ag lands around Cortez.
Highlights included two nesting western kingbirds, one in an actual tree, the second in the more-familiar-to-me telephone pole electric meter habitat. We checked up on the black phoebes down McElmo, and I managed to get a couple photos of dubious quality. My previous experiences with black phoebes in northern California were with birds which were almost unafraid of humans, while these were a bit spookier.
We found several cliff swallow colonies, mostly small, including one on a for-rent stucco house on 21 road SW of the airport. We were assailed by a cloud of rock wrens this morning, and the only one that sat still long enough for a photo looks like a juvenile. We settled on at least 9 birds in the group, which makes me think they had a heck of a clutch of eggs. The two previous visits we only saw one wren in that area. We also saw rock wrens at two other locations west of J road towards the Utah border down McElmo.
We found an abundance of Say's phoebes throughout the area, and noticed that they mix to a certain extent with the kingbirds along the edges of the juniper woodlands. We also found several blue grosbeaks in places we had never seen them before (but were not too suprised). Ash-throated flycatchers were out this morning as well.
I got one decent lark sparrow photo out of several dozen birds seen, and we found a female mtn bluebird building a nest inside a mailbox.
Photos for the weekend (and previous trips) at www.photobucket.com/paoniabirds
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