About 40F outside, variable winds (pretty good wind out by the lake shore).
Main treats today was a White-winged Scoter (a first ever for me and my wife) and the first Downy Woodpecker of the year. The Red-winged Blackbirds (males only) are back in large numbers now. This was not the case last week. Saw lots of American Tree Sparrows and one Song Sparrow.
It was a mild day, perhaps mid-50s. I took a long lunch to go down to the bird sanctuary at Montrose beach. Many, many Canada Geese coming in to land in the harbor. The harbor and lake were hosting large numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers. On the way in, a birder pulled over to inform me that a Western Grebe was hanging around the end of the pier. I headed straight for that since there was little going on in the field and trees. There I saw two birders. I spoke a little with one who told me that, if you were “lucky, very lucky,” you may see one Western Grebe per year in Chicago.
Canada Goose (100+)
Common Goldeneye (single female on the lake out by the pier)
Red-breasted Merganser (100+ ?)
Gulls – mostly Ring-billed from what I could identify
We had a warm, sunny day at Montrose Point. Beautiful conditions. We arrived at a non-peak time, we usually do. Very many starlings, House Sparrows, and female R-W Blackbirds were out. We did see one male, possibly young, R-W Blackbird as well. On the way in we saw four Double-crested Cormorants on a street lamp by the harbor.
Visiting home and these nice House Finches were at the bird feeder. (The House Finches were really hard to photograph in Colorado; here they just pose.) There were also Black-capped Chickadees, a pair of Mourning Doves, and Northern Cardinals at the feeder. Out back there were some House Wrens and we spotted a Ruby-throated Hummingbird as well.
We visited this trail last year too; starting from the Ethel Harrold Trailhead. It is pretty steep and on the way out you are going down into the valley toward the falls. Means we had to leave plenty of time and energy for the return trip. We did not get all the way to the falls themselves. Starting elevation was about 6,900ft and the bottom about 6,560ft.
Pretty good bird sightings; few photos turned out well though. I now forget, but I think we also saw a Bald Eagle circling around on this day on the way to our hike.
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted)
This was a wonderful hike for us. Mostly an easy slope up on the way out, making getting back to the car a nice low-difficulty proposition. Lovely surroundings, though the creek was entirely dried up except for one very small stretch. We went approximately one and a quarter miles out and gained about 500 feet of altitude (from 8,200 to 8,692 ft according to this topographical map.)
We saw and heard many more birds than we were able to get photos of. Lesser Goldfinches and Mountain Chickadees were seen near the starting point and heard, particularly the chickadees, for about half of the hike. We only have one bird picture from this that is at all decent – the Northern Flicker (red-shafted), of which there were a nesting pair in a tree not far off the trail. We could not find the nest, but the chicks were loud when a parent was nearby.