The awesomeness of The Arsenal; kites nesting in Park Hill; black-eared bushtit at Greenlee

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Ted Floyd

Jul 30, 2022, 12:21:17 AMJul 30
to Colorado Birds
Hey, all.

With high school seniors Gavin Allvine (Atlanta), Simon Tolzmann (Chicago), and Hannah Floyd (Colorado proud) and parental units Mary Claire & Doug Allvine, Andrea Tolzmann, and Yours Truly, I enjoyed a long day of nature study yesterday, Thurs., July 28, in the north Denver metro region.

The drive before sunrise through Broomfield, Westminster, etc., was like the south shore of Long Island in a coastal storm in autumn, with torrents of rain and standing water on The Boulder Turnpike and even a bit of hydroplaning. But the rain was largely done by the time we arrived at the entrance gate to Rocky Mountain Arsenal National Wildlife Refuge, Adams Co., at precisely 5:54 am, the moment of local sunrise ("sun"rise being an abstract concept yesterday) and the magical opening of the refuge. We let the eager fishermen in first, and then we did our thing.

I've said it before, I'll say it again: The Arsenal is awesome. We were only quasi-birding, we were done by around noon, the lighting was crap, and we waltzed out with 80+ bird species. Some avian highlights: 2 hooded mergansers, 1 Virginia rail, 12 species of shorebirds, 7 snowy egrets, 3 burrowing owls, 3 sage thrashers, 2 northern mockingbirds, 1 lesser goldfinch, 3 grasshopper sparrows, 10+ Brewer sparrows, 100+ lark buntings, and 4 blue grosbeaks. But the non-avians were the true highlights. Here are a very few:

a01 badger.jpg
Badger, Taxidea taxus. Photo by © Ted Floyd.

a02 rainbow lubber.jpg
Rainbow lubber, Dactylotum bicolor. Photo by © Ted Floyd.

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Warrior beetle, Pasimachus elongatus. Photo by © Ted Floyd.

After The Arsenal, we headed into the nearby Park Hill neighborhood of Denver. No kidding, even before I had eased the vehicle into a parking spot in front of the stakeout, a Mississippi kite sailed out of a shadetree directly ahead. We walked around this verdant neighborhood for a little while, eventually finding the kites' nest:

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Photo by Hannah © Floyd.

It was so nice to be guests in a neighborhood that evidently has no use for the abject stupidity of homeowner associations (HOAs). Half the yards in Park Hill have gardens lovelier than anything I've ever seen in Lafayette, Boulder Co., utterly sterilized by HOAs based out of Dallas or Memphis or somewhere. But I digress.

After the Park Hill kites, we made the haul up to, well, Lafayette, where the Greater Greenlee Ecosystem (Hecla Pond + Waneka Lake + Greenlee Wildllife Preserve) was as productive as ever. Lafayette isn't all bad. We came across two flocks of bushtits, including this striking black-eared bushtit:

a05 black-eared bushtit.jpg
Photo by Hannah © Floyd.

Other goodies at Greenlee & environs: chimney swifts, 1 or 2 black-chinned hummingbirds, 4 cordilleran flycatchers, and a gray catbird. About the cordy's: Yeah, so they fledged a few days ago. That's right, cordilleran flycatchers actually bred in Lafayette this year--who'da thunk.

The non-avian highlight was a pair of dayflying peachtree borer moths, Synanthedon exitiosa, doing the deed:

a06 peachtree borers.JPG
Photo by Hannah © Floyd.

Those are in fact the same species! The male (lower) is a brilliant wasp mimic, the female (upper) simply stunning. Again, those are moths. Moths. That's all I got.

Ted Floyd
Boulder Co.
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