Observation start time: 08:30:00 Observation end time: 14:30:00 Total observation time: 6 hours
Official Counter: Mike Fernandez
Visitors: From ~ 11:30-12:30 MST, Pam (longtime Dinosaur Ridge Hawkwatcher), led a group of secondary school teachers taking a continuing education class on raptors through the School of Mines. The group of 12, including Pam, had some excellent preparation and many had prior personal experience. They spent about an hour with eyes on the skies and then Pam had them present their raptor reports on the platform. It was a learning experience for me as well!
Qwahn Kent joined at around noon and stayed till 2:30 MST. Qwahn is a high school senior in Vail and is a passionate birder. He starts at Cornell in the fall with the intention of majoring in ecology. We had great conversations and he gets the protocol. He now has all of our DinoHawk info (via that business card) and is interested in helping us in the future (during spring break?). Qwahn was truly helpful in spotting and identifying raptors. He was in Denver for a track meet with his family and chose to stay over and visit our site while in town.
Weather: Intense sun and wind (again) today, with gusts up to 34 mph, BFT 7 (whole trees in motion; resistance felt walking against the wind; hard to hold the binocs steady).
Raptor Observations: Migrating Raptors: There were a few brief periods of respite from the intense winds when i expected a flood of migrators. But no. Today they were up to (and seemed to prefer, or at least resigned to) the challenge, trying a grueling low height of flight (HOF zero) west of the ridge, pausing suspended in mid air, eye level, for long periods (and great photo ops). Then going up a thermal near our site and soaring oddly, facing west while flying north, swinging south at times, regaining their path. Raptors were all over the place, far west black specks, directly over ridge, east of ridge, west of ridge, high and low. Trying to figure it out. It was a migration in slow motion today. Profiles were atypical, shaped by wind. Hard to tell locals from migrators due to circumnavigation. Often showing up west of ridge at eye level and then suddenly disappear.
Non-Migrating Raptors: Locals showed up west and east of ridge and then disappeared suddenly, i'm guessing because they turned tail and zipped away and down with the wind. A couple of local red-taileds did provide throughway escort several times, including dive-bombing the Golden over Table Mountain and forcing a migrating male Kestrel out of his original path.
Local Female Northern Harrier patrolled the trail low up Matthews-Winters park.
Non-raptor Observations: White-throated Swifts (13), Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay (2), Black-billed Magpie (2), American Crow (6), Common Raven (1), Swallow Sp. (2), Pygmy Nuthatch (2) (could be challenged), Townsend's Solitaire (3) in our favorite spot.
Predictions: TUVUs are on the rise.
======================================================================== 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.