Observation start time: 08:30:00 Observation end time: 12:30:00 Total observation time: 4 hours
Official Counter: Mitchell Blystone
Visitors: A birdwatcher, Crystal, stopped by for a period during the colder part of the day and she explained how she watches our reports and has wanted to make it up to check out the counting station. It was a relatively mild Saturday with view hikers and bikers on the trail and very view coming up to the platform. Question, has anyone else been told to get down from the hill because we're in the firing range's no-man-zone? I had two different groups tell me that today making for three times overall the season! I politely explained that birders take serious risks.
Weather: The early morning started calm and cold with uninterrupted sunshine which helped warm the hilltop. Eventually a shelf cloud covered the sun through most of the 10am hour which made the temperature drop and the SE breeze pick up. Into the 11am hour the temperature fluctuations where very quick and drastic with quickly moving bands of clouds covering and uncovering the sun. Around midday the clouds disappeared overhead which was a nice reprieve from the cold.
Raptor Observations: Early in the morning the local Red Tails were seen playing up and down the eastern hillside landing on both telephone poles and tree tops. At one point two Red Tails were harassing some Magpies either looking for a nest or just enjoying the Magpies discomfort. A group of four Turkey Vultures were seen headed south along the western ridge and then they vanished behind Mt. Morrison. There was a good variety of migrators observed this morning. The Accipiters were moving very quickly and I was lucky to catch any of them. There did not seem to be a preferred flight path today but rather a range in elevations and locations.
Non-raptor Observations: There was eight elk (mothers and children) very close to the platform on the eastern side which were fun to watch meander through the bushes and take naps under the pines. Three Canada Geese plus multiple Magpies, Townsends Solitaires, Scrub Jays, Blackcapped Chickadees, Northern Flickers, and American Crows were seen throughout the day. The amount of flying insects has definitely increased it seems with a variety visiting the hilltop.
Predictions: None really, no real pattern today other than the clouds covering and uncovering at a consistent rate. Bring a down jacket and sunscreen. ======================================================================== 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.