Observation start time: 09:45:00 Observation end time: 13:45:00 Total observation time: 4 hours
Official Counter: Joyce Commercon
Visitors: Only three hikers were seen on the trail; two came up briefly for the view.
Weather: The day was gray, damp and chilly with 100-percent cloud-cover and extended periods of light rain and drizzle. A low cloud ceiling obscured the western ridges and rode atop Green Mountain; after noon MST, the cloud ceiling descended to envelope the top of Green Mountain as well. Winds were from the northeast, mostly at bft 2, gusting to bft 3 in the afternoon. The temperature stayed at roughly 8 C during the watch. Visibility in the valleys was very good in the morning but would temporarily decrease as swaths of drizzle or fog moved through. Visibility in the valleys at the very end of the watch was down to about 1 km due to fog being blown in from the north.
Raptor Observations: All of the migrants passed by on the east side of the Ridge, either right along the Ridge or over Rooney Valley. All were easily visible; most were at eyelevel. Many seemed to float by, progressing slightly slower than usual against the chilly, northeastern winds. The two Merlins were the absolute highlight of an already great day. The first was a brownish juvenile or female, with striking whitish bands on its tail, that passed at eyelevel to the platform. The second, later in the day, was a male Prairie Merlin, with a bluish back and a boldly-banded black-and-white tail, that slipped quickly by, against the wind, below eyelevel. Before noon MST, during a lull in the light drizzly rain, there was a large push of raptors that included a majority of the American Kestrels. A group of five Swainson's Hawks, accompanied by a heavily-marked juvenile Red-tailed Hawk migrant and some apparently local adult Turkey Vultures, were the vanguard of the second push of migrants that came in the last 30 minutes of the watch before fog in the valleys greatly reduced visibility.
Non-raptor Observations: In the morning, a flock of about 25 Chipping Sparrows paused just south of the platform before continuing east across Rooney Valley. Several unidentified songbirds, probably warblers, were seen heading north, although a few seemed to head back south a little later in the morning. A Great Blue Heron also flew north up Rooney Valley. Also seen or heard, mostly early in the watch during the longest lull in the drizzle, were Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Blue-gray Gnatcatcher, Western Meadowlark, Rock Wren, Spotted Towhee, Black-billed Magpie, Woodhouse's Scrub-Jay, Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon's), Eurasian Collared-Dove, and White-throated Swifts. In the morning, eight or nine Elk were spotted high on Green Mountain. ======================================================================== 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.