Craig Area Birds
I did some local birding over the weekend with pretty fair results. On Saturday, May 7, I visited Elkhead Reservoir. Although access to Elkhead is closed for the next couple of years while the dam is enlarged and the reservoir is partially drained, you can view the reservoir at certain points along Moffat and Routt County roads. Currently, the best spot on the reservoir is the inlet area (Routt County) where there are some good mudflats. The only problem is the long distance view. (I ended up getting access across private land because I don’t have a high quality, powerful scope.) Anyway, there were six (count ‘em!) Semipalmated Plovers, two Western Sandpipers, about a dozen dowitchers and a few Spotted Sandpipers. I thought I had seen a Sanderling at distance but I couldn’t find it when I got closer. A few days before there had been seven Marbled Godwits. The best sighting of the day (at least from a Moffat County perspective) was a group of two male and one female Purple Martins on a telephone wire at the extreme northwest end of Elkhead near a State Park picnic area—a first MoCo record for me.
Later on Saturday, I went down MoCo Road 30, which turns off Hwy 40 at the west end of Craig, to just past mile marker 9. There was a flock of about 20 ibis is an irrigated alfalfa field and one turned out to be a Glossy!
On Sunday, May 8, I stopped at the gravel pit about 4 miles south of Craig (viewed from a BLM informational turnout). There were a few shorebirds at this spot as well, including two each Semipalmated Plovers, Western and Least Sandpipers and one each Marbled Godwit and Willet. Just when I though shorebird migration was done!
On a final note, I finally found some Eurasian Collared-Doves at a specific location in Craig rather than just fly-bys. There were three EUCDs hanging out in an alley between Tucker and Rose Streets and between Victory Way and 6th Street.
I did some birding around Craig yesterday with a few interesting sightings. The most unusual bird was a Blue Jay found in the general vicinity of 9th and Breeze Streets. A Blue Jay was seen in another part of town during November by Dean DiTomasso and was probably the same bird (I see or hear a Blue Jay once or twice a year in Craig, but they are very elusive.) A couple of blocks away, in the vicinity of 10th and School Streets, was a flock of about 50 Eurasian Collared-Doves coming into a feeder. The population of EUCDs is building rapidly it would seem. There was also a Merlin hanging around the neighborhood, but I’m not sure if it was looking over the doves or searching for smaller prey. On the Yampa River from the south end of Craig to the Highway 13 Bridge I viewed about 40 or so Barrow’s Goldeneyes. They were actively diving so it was hard to get a good count. The best vantage point was the River Ridge Restaurant parking lot. Also viewed from the parking lot was a Killdeer feeding on the river ice. It was my first mid-winter Killdeer in the Craig area.
Happy New Year!!
I birded around Craig for a few hours yesterday (Sep 3). The highlight and first county bird for me was a Common Tern at the County Maintenance Shop pond. It was in winter plumage and thus easy to identify. Also still present at the pond was the Pectoral Sandpiper (1), along with Wilson’s Snipe (8), Greater (2) and Lesser (2+) Yellowlegs, Semipalmated (1), Western (2), Least (2) and Baird’s (10) Sandpipers.
Loudy-Simpson Park was relatively slow for a Labor Day weekend but did have a Cassin’s Vireo and a Nashville Warbler (a female/juvenile that was tail wagging, which I believe would make it a member of the “western” race). Still quite a few Wilson’s (20) and MacGillivray’s (8) Warblers, with a couple of Orange-crowns and only one late lingering Yellow (saying goodbye to the last Yellow Warblers of the fall is always an emotional experience for me). No Lazuli Buntings, Eastern Kingbirds or Hummingbirds of any flavor for the first time this fall.
I didn’t make it to the WFMC Gravel Pit Ponds yesterday because when I checked there last Thursday (Aug 30) there was only a mud puddle left where the shorebirds have been hanging out. Despite the pond being nearly dry there was still a good group of shorebirds on that date including my only Semipalmated Plover so far this fall. The good news is that I noticed this morning that an unknown benefactor, who I had to practically bribe, filled the pond/marsh up again with water over the weekend, so it looks like we are back in business!
Did some cold weather birding around Craig this morning and there was still a little steam left in migration. At Loudy-Simpson Park were five warblers species: Yellow-rumped (80), Orange-crowned (30), Townsend’s (3), Wilson’s (2) and a latish Common Yellowthroat (1). Other species included RC Kinglet (50), Hermit Thrush (2), Brown Creeper (2), White-crowned Sparrow (5) and a few resident species.
At the County Maintenance Shop Pond were 12 LB Dowitchers, two Greater Yellowlegs, some pelicans and cormorants and common ducks.
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Had three (1 adult, 2 juveniles) late lingering Bonaparte’s Gulls at Loudy-Simpson Park last evening, as well as a Willet at WFMC Ponds south of Craig. Otherwise, not much new for passerine migration.