Thursday 7/7: The DSA meeting semi-started this afternoon, so I spent the morning poking around locally before meeting up with people. I used BirdsEye to look for close locations for a few of my remaining targets and picked Bobcat Ridge Natural Area. It was only a short distance from Fort Collins and proved to be a very nice place.
The parking lot was loaded with Brewer’s Blackbirds, finally giving me a good chance to study them. Still not seeing much similarity to Rusty, way more gracklish.
Walking up the hill, I found a nice flicker and then a variety of sparrows including several Lark.
There were also a bunch of impressive robber flies and more fritillaries.
Up in the pines about halfway around, I found my target: a family of Pygmy Nuthatches.
After watching them for several minutes (and trying to turn the pewees in the area into target Empids), I moved on, back into the grassier areas. Birds thinned out a bit but there was a Bobolink and some Vesper Sparrows and fritillaries were all over, along with a few skippers.
Most of the way back, I found a hummingbird doing some form of display. It flew up and hovered in place for a good 30 seconds.
Back at the car, I realized that the Eurasian Collared-Dove I was hearing was not way off. I poked my head into the stable-like building and found a nesting pair.
From here, I headed back to the hotel, stopping at the Safeway to buy sandwiches for a couple days (read the ingredients carefully to avoid mayo but missed the pickles which were overly strong). After a shower, I decided to head to the nearest ponds and hope to run into some of the convention crew.
The Riverbend Ponds were the closest location. It was a bit cloudy and drizzly when I arrived but I started to walk around anyway. A single baskettail was working the edge but did not cooperate. Further on, I found a pile of bluets, including several Double-striped, along with Blue-fronted Dancers.
Circling around, I reached the parking lot and found the Pacific northwest contingent of Jim, Cary, and Steve. After quick reintroductions, we started around again (Cary had picked up a Rainbow Bluet and was promptly yelled at by a passing ranger). Bluets were all over, including many Rainbows and there were a few Widow Skimmers and other dragons around.
After finishing here, I headed to the CSU campus to check out the meeting spot for tomorrow’s field trip. I then headed to the main conference hotel and met up with a larger crowd. Most of us walked to a nearby place for dinner, Avogadro’s Number. My falafel was pretty good, but the service was very slow. We sat outside and had an enjoyable time, even if it was a little cool and threatening. Back to the hotel and then bed for an early morning.