Needing a break from what is now Front Range Madness in trying to find a peaceful hike on the weekends, my wife, dogs, and I decided to head out to Pawnee Buttes (Pawnee NG, Weld Co., CO) this morning (Sun., 2 June'19) to shed some of this stress. We were hoping to stumble on the usual suspects out on the prairies, but mainly to try and relax. Birding was slow as we didn't get out there until around 11am, but managed to accomplish our main goal, a deep breath in the beautiful short grass prairies on a nice day.
However, on the way back birding luck struck, found an adult SPAGUE'S PIPIT at the intersection of Weld County Rds 87 & 112 (stub road 1mi north of the main CR110). There is a small water filled swale on the east side of CR 87 where the pipit and several HORNED LARKS were feeding. Knew Sprague's was a candidate as soon as we drove up and it flushed from the side of the road - short, black tail with a fair amount of white in the outer retricies, short, wide wings, and direct flight. Picked it up as it landed in a relatively open spot nearby - big eye in the plain tan face, neatly black marked pale brown upperparts, including black streaked crown, pale bill (at least the basal 2/3), and clean off white underparts except for some very faint streaking on the upper breast; throat was whitish. Now you are thinking, as I did, it's not too early for juvenile Horned Larks to throw a wet towel on the party. Party on Garth! Diagnostic pale pink legs! A first for Colorado for me and yes, a Records Committee report will be forthcoming. This was around 3:30pm, so hopefully it is still around in the morning.
On the way in, stopped at Crow Valley CG to walk the dogs and see if by chance there might be something good lingering. Not the case with primarily breeders around, though a NORTHERN MOCKINGBIRD and beautiful RED-HEADED WOODPECKER were nice, as well as a surprise pair of LESSER GOLDFINCH. As we meandered out to the Buttes, then back a different route, only had a few MCCOWN'S LONGSPURS, no Chestnut-collareds, and unfortunately no Mountain Plovers, so guess we'll have to head out again...dang!
Good Birding,DougDenver, CO
2 June 2019 CrowValley CG, Pawnee NG, Weld Co., COMourning Dove – 10Common Nighthawk – 1Killdeer – 2Red-headed Woodpecker – 1American Kestrel – 1mWestern Kingbird – 9Blue Jay – 2House Wren – 3American Robin – 4Northern Mockingbird – 1LESSER GOLDFINCH – 1m1fAmerican Goldfinch – 1m1fWestern Meadowlark – 5Bullock’s Oriole – 5Red-winged Blackbird – 4Common Grackle – 12Yellow Warbler - 3
2 June 2019 EastUnit (Briggsdale-Pawnee Buttes), Pawnee NG, Weld Co., COMallard - 2Rock Pigeon - 10Mourning Dove – 8Common Nighthawk – 3American Avocet - 6Killdeer – 4Wilson’s Phalarope - 4American Kestrel – 1Western Kingbird – 18Eastern Kingbird - 2Horned Lark – 110Barn Swallow - 2Cliff Swallow – 15American Robin – 1European Starling - 10SPRAGUE’S PIPIT – 1 (Weld CR 87 & 112; I guess nottechnically in the National Grasslands)McCown’s Longspur – 3m 1fGrasshopper Sparrow – 3Lark Sparrow – 5Lark Bunting - 85Western Meadowlark – 40Red-winged Blackbird – 5Brewer’s Blackbird - 4Common Grackle – 6House Sparrow - 6