Observation start time: 08:00:00 Observation end time: 14:00:00 Total observation time: 6 hours
Official Counter: Joyce Commercon
Observers: Jane Haddock
Visitors: David, a volunteer at Barr Lake State Park, dropped by for a brief visit early in the morning and was present when one of the early American Kestrel migrants whipped past the platform. Jane Haddock spent several hours helping to spot and follow many of today's raptors; she was incredibly helpful on this busy day! Of the hikers and bikers on the trail, only a few came up and then only for the view. A quiet and orderly group of kids, likely with attending adults, also apparently filed up onto the platform for the view, but several possible migrating raptors had our attention at that moment so that could have been a hallucination...
Weather: The cool, mostly-cloudy day opened with thin fog in the valleys and a lowered cloud-ceiling which shrouded the top of the western ridges. Ninety-five-percent cloud-coverage (at the start of the watch) decreased to 40-percent by the 10:00am MST but gradually moved back to near-total coverage by the end of the watch. Visibility was poor in the morning, but became reasonably better by mid-morning as the fog thinned to a light haze and the clouds lifted above the western ridges. Winds, predominately from the northeast and east, increased from bft 2 to bft 4, and seemed to become colder. Temperatures increased from 5 C to 10 C , but then dropped back down to 9 C in the last hour.
Raptor Observations: Most of today's migrants passed relatively close to the Ridge, either right along it or just to the east over Rooney Valley. Height-of-flight seemed to be, on average, just a bit higher during the 10:00-11:00am MST hours when it was the most sunny (cloud-cover was at its lowest), but all migrants all day were at heights-of-flight visible to the unaided eye. The first highlight of the day was a classic, adult, female-type Rough-legged Hawk that powered its way north in the morning, low, in the western valley, pausing only to circle up briefly near I-70. The second highlight was a dark-morph Ferruginous Hawk adult that passed northeast over the Ridge close to the platform. Delightfully, many of the American Kestrel migrants passed very close to the Ridge, either directly over it or just to the east. A local pair of Peregrine Falcons soared amiably just south of the platform before noon. Late in the watch, a local adult Golden Eagle came north along the Ridge only to be attacked repeatedly and persistently by a local Red-tailed Hawk near I-70 until it left the area to go west toward Cabrini Shrine. The local Red-tailed Hawk pair made a couple of appearances in Rooney Valley, dropping legs and doing roller-coaster movements. The female Red-tail of the pair (that has the whitish patch on the front of her head) perched on a Rooney Valley phone pole occasionally and also kite-hunted a few times.
Non-raptor Observations: At least 85 American Robins were seen moving in 3 big groups north along the Ridge and up Rooney Valley. Two small groups (5-10 birds) of White-throated Swifts also went north past the platform during the day. Also seen or heard were Gray-headed Dark-eyed Junco, Townsend's Solitaire, Eurasian-Collared Dove, Black-billed Magpie, American Crow, Northern Flicker, Common Raven, Mountain Bluebird, a group of bluebird species moving north over Rooney Valley, and Rock Pigeon.
Predictions: Snow... ======================================================================== Report submitted by Matthew Smith (<matt.smith...>) Dinosaur Ridge - Bird Conservancy of the Rockies information may be found at: http://www.birdconservancy.org/
Site Description: Dinosaur Ridge is the only regularly staffed hawkwatch in Colorado and is the best place in the world to see migrating Ferruginous Hawks. Dinosaur Ridge may be the best place in the country to see the rare dark morph of the Broad-winged Hawk (a few are seen each spring). Hawkwatchers who linger long enough may see resident Golden Eagles, Red-tailed Hawks and Prairie Falcons, in addition to migrating Swainson's, Cooper's and Sharp-shinned Hawks, American Kestrels and Turkey Vultures. Peregrine Falcons and Ferruginous Hawks are uncommon; Northern Goshawk is rare but regular. Non-raptor species include Rock Wren, and sometimes Bushtit, Western Bluebird, Sandhill Crane, White-throated Swift, American White Pelican or Dusky Grouse. Birders are always welcome. The hawkwatch is generally staffed by volunteers from Bird Conservancy of the Rockies from about 9 AM to around 3 PM from March 1st to May 7th.
Directions to site: From exit 259 on I-70 towards Morrison, drive south under freeway and take left into first parking lot, the Stegosaurus lot. Follow small signs from the south side of lot to hawkwatch site. The hike starts heading east on an old two-track and quickly turns south onto a trail on the west side of the ridge. When the trail nears the top of the ridge, turn left, head through the gate, and walk to the clearly-visible, flat area at the crest of the ridge.