I figured Jason would post something, so I didn't get this out earlier. Apparently he is working too hard, though.
I got up relatively late this morning, and listened to the drumming of a woodpecker (I suspect the red-naped sapsucker that lurks around here), which made me get dressed and go outside, where I managed half an hour or so in the yard between 8 and 9. Nothing too exotic, mostly juncos, pine siskins, several house finches, a handful of pinyon jays, and a few red-winged blackbirds and Cassin's finches.
Jason came by around 9, and we headed towards Fruitgrowers. Typical roadside birds on the drive down, including a couple kestrels, red-winged blackbirds, and meadowlarks. There was a red-tailed on the nest along the road at Rogers Mesa.
As we drove along near Payne Siding, we saw a large group of what looked li pulled in to takerth end of the lake there, so we pulled in to take a look. Sure enough, roughly 125 sandhills near the lake. We also saw a couple horned larks, meadowlarks, a wabbit, two avocets, and a handful of gulls (Bonaparte's, I think. I could be wrong), along with a scattering of standard waterfowl. One lone killdeer was the only other shorebird we saw.
We headed north towards Fruitgrower's. There were two golden eagles and a single turkey vulture soaring over the ridge north of the highway as we drove up it. More meadowlarks.
Fruitgrower's had a few cranes, which were departing as we arrived. We stopped on the east end of the causeway and looked around. There was one avocet north of the road, along with several mallards and gadwall. In the west end of the lake, we saw several great blue herons, numerous ducks including redheads and cinnamon teal, and at least 15 western and one Clark's grebe, mostly paired up and in some cases displaying.
More easterly along the causeway, the highlight was three Ross's geese just south of the road. We also saw Canada geese, shovelers, song sparrow, kestrel, and a harrier, as well as several cranes both departing and arriving. Several killdeer, but no other shorebirds. Perhaps they were as frozen as we were. We had a Bonaparte's gull fly over us there as well.
Near the dam, there were two horned grebes. I bailed out and tried to take a photo, and discovered that they can swim underwater a LONG way without surfacing for air. There were also several red-breasted mergansers near the cormorant and heron rookery. There was also a red-tailed hawk on a nest near the rookery (safety in numbers?). Other waterfowl seen from here included lesser scaup. Not a decent photo of anything from here. Sigh. Another Bonaparte's flyover.
We headed back to the causeway to look for rails, with no luck. We did locate a Martha, however, which is always a good sighting.
Homeward bound, Jason spotted a rock wren not far east of Fruitgrower's. We kept heading east towards Leroux creek, and located a roadside chukar and two pheasants, but nothing else worth noting until we got back near Hotchkiss, and saw the red-tailed on the nest along the hill above the creek.
I probably forgot something interesting or important, but I was shivering too hard to remember parts of the morning.
I spent the afternoon, between snow flurries, sitting in the yard by the feeder, lurking with my camera. Just the usual suspects again this afternoon, although I did manage to get a couple decent photos of a song sparrow.
I also noticed that several of the house finches have severe swelling around their eyes (conjunctivitis?). As far as I could tell, it was limited to them, and no other species showed any signs. I have a couple good photos (not posted) if anyone is interested.
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