Crossbills, etc., Grand Co., July 25

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Ted Floyd

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Jul 26, 2022, 1:00:42 PMJul 26
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Hey, all.

I was in and around Winter Park, Grand Co., yesterday afternoon, Mon., July 25, and unsurprisingly, in light of the recent crossbill excitement in nearby Summit Co., was interested in the crossbill situation in Grand Co.

Well, I found crossbills. Beyond that, things were a bit murkier--at least for me. To be sure, some were type 2 red crossbills--based on their distinctive spectrograms, as with this one flying over. Others, like this flyover, were less straightforward.

Most of the crossbills were just flying around, but I was able to get decent studies of two that landed for a while. Both birds in that category were interesting but not entirely definitive ID-wise.

The first of these gave type 2 red crossbill flight calls. But it did a lot of other cool things, too. At times, it weirdly sang in a manner reminding me a bit of a sagebrush sparrow; at other times, it sang a buzzy song with elements that reminded me of a rock wren. Here it is throwing the whole kitchen sink at us. By the way: Male or female? In light of recent research by B. Fernández-Eslava and reported in the Mar. 2022 Birding by N. Minor, that's hard to say; here's what the bird looked like when it (sort of) sat still for a sec.

The second of these crossbills was more vexing. It flew in giving calls like this. Then it proceeded to feed on the cones of an Engelmann spruce. I got a quick, distant photo of the bird, too. I eBirded it as a plain old red crossbill.

I went into the woods expecting to be challenged by crossbills, but I was also thrown for a loop by a species that I think of as more straightforward. It was a ruby-crowned kinglet giving these calls. When I heard the sound, I thought it was going to be a golden-crowned kinglet or maybe a brown creeper; the timbre and modulation seemed to my ears to match those species better, but I saw the bird, and it was a ruby-crowned.

It was a decidedly slow afternoon for birding, and deep in the heart of the summer doldrums--thus excellent for lepping. Particularly notable were dayflying police car moths, Gnophaela vermiculata; I saw dozens, mostly in association with stands of arrowleaf senecio, Senecio triangularis. Also a nice anise swallowtail, Papilio zelicaon, and several striking Weidemeyer admirals, Limenitis weidemeyerii. See for yourself:

01 pcm.jpg
02 anise.jpg
03 wa.jpg

Back to birds for a moment. Got brief studies of an American three-toed woodpecker and a northern pygmy-owl, two expected species around Winter Park, I suppose, but always a thrill. As I was wrapping up and preparing to rendezvous with Andrew Floyd (more about that in a bit), I came upon a couple of American dippers--and their nest--along the Fraser river. Including this rotund adult:

04 AmDi.jpg

I mentioned Andrew. Never a dull moment with the lad. At one point during the afternoon, I had just missed urgent phone calls and texts about bumming a ride on the life-flight chopper back to Denver. There's a bit of a story there, as I'm sure you can imagine. Andrew's totally fine. We stopped by Berthoud Pass for a short while on the way home...

05 Berthoud.png

...and were back in time for opening ceremonies for the Summer 2022 East County Go Championship in Lafayette.

Ted Floyd
Boulder Co.
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