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ZAPATA BIRDING
Category: Live from the Ranch
Rufous Hummingbird.




Rufous Hummingbirds are a colourful harbinger of the changing seasons.
Although it’s only the 4th of July these little birds are on the southbound trajectory of their autumn migration.
They make a large looping circuit of western North America, from their wintering grounds in Central America. Heading north along the Pacific coast as far up as Alaska. Then returning south, inland along the spine of the Rockies. They make one of the longest migrations of any bird relative to it's size. This bird was photographed today, after seeing the first one on the 2nd July.
Posted by Bird D. on 07/04/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING
Category: Live from the Ranch
 BROWN CRESTED FLYCATCHER 
THE 2ND RECORD FOR COLORADO.

On the Afternoon of Saturday 29th June I came across a Myiarchus Flycatcher. Having not seen any members of this family here at Zapata I watched it for a while and took some photos. At the time I begun to the think there were some structural features that really didn’t fit with the only species that should occur here, that being Ash-throated Flycatcher.
I sat with the photos for a while and begun to look at the possibility of it being Brown-crested Flycatcher. A species that has it’s strong hold in Latin America and only just creeping into southern Arizona and the extreme south of Texas.
Realizing that it would be out of range I sent the shots onto Bill Maynard with my suspicions of its identity. As a Brit birder here in the US I only have experience with Great-crested and Ash-throated Flycatcher so I needed input from a native perspective!
I was pretty shocked when his reply came “It looks like a Brown-crested, you realize it would be only the second record for Colorado?!”
So from that point the photos were circulated to some very eminent US birders and all were in unanimous agreement with my initial identification.
 
Unfortunately the bird was not seen beyond 7pm on the 29th.
Although it was disappointing not to get to share the bird with others it has come as some prize for the many hours I’ve put in birding around the ranch. Finding scarce vagrants are, for me at least, one of the most exciting and rewarding aspects of birding anywhere.
 
I’d like to thank Bill Maynard, Mark Peterson Tony Leukering & Richard Fray of www.arizonabirder.com for their help.
 
Hopefully Zapata has some more surprises in store as we go into the autumn period. Could it do one better? A new species for Colorado!?
Posted by Bird D. on 07/02/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING
Category: Live from the Ranch
 BABY BLUEBIRD.



By late July the sound of bird song begins to give way to the sound of hungry young birds! With all the parent birds working over time to fill tens of greedy mouths. This was one of a group of young Western Bluebirds I photographed the other evening. The young birds on this ranch don’t run the gauntlet of being caught by domestic cats, as there is none allowed on the ranch… It’s a pretty safe place for them.
 
If you were wondering how you could tell fledgling Western Bluebirds from Mountain Bluebirds an excellent clue is the spotting on the birds back, this would be plain if it were a Mountain.
Posted by Bird D. on 07/02/2013

BIRDING ZAPATA
Category: Live from the Ranch
 White-winged Doves at Zapata


A pair of White-winged Doves appeared at the feeders during the last two weeks of June. This was a species I hadn’t encountered before, owing to the fact I have never birded the lower southern States and haven’t been birding in Colorado too long! Traditionally these birds had a range restricted to only the southern states of the US but over the last decade or so have been successfully colonizing new territory to the north. In fact not long ago they were considered a state rarity in Colorado. Most populations of White-winged Doves are migratory wintering in Mexico and Central America.
White-winged Doves feed on a variety of seeds, grains, and fruits. Western White-winged Doves (Zenaida asiatica mearnsii) migrate into the Sonoran Desert to breed during the hottest time of the year because they feed on pollen and nectar, and later on the fruits and seeds of the Saguaro cactus.
I later saw a third bird behind Safeway in Alamosa, so I’m guessing they are well on the way to colonizing this part of Colorado too.
Posted by Bird D. on 07/02/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING 18TH - 24TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
 ZAPATA BIRDING 18TH – 24TH MAY


Plenty of migration this week with one or two species turning up way west of their usual, more easterly ranges.

Hammond’s, Cordilleran, and Gray Flycatcher showed up this week, as did a handful of Western Wood-pewee on the 21st. Western Kingbirds also increased in numbers along the fence of the pivot field.

Warblers were dominated by 10 -15 Yellow Warblers around the HQ, several flocks of c15 Yellow-rumped Warblers could be seen roaming the low cover about the ranch. Last week’s Black and White Warbler is still present in the same area.
An immaculate male Indigo Bunting was at the drip on the evening of the 22nd.

The 23rd saw and new arrival of birds. The first Western Tanagers were seen, with 8-10 birds seen in various locations. Most unexpected were 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeaks present for most of the day. Also sharing the feeders were 8 Black-headed Grosbeaks, the first Lesser and American Goldfinches of the season, 60+ Pine Siskin, 3 Cassin’s Finch, 8 White-crowned Sparrow and a smart male Lazuli Bunting. The first Nighthawk arrived too.



Posted by Bird D. on 05/25/2013

ZaPATA BIRDING 18TH - 24TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
Black-headed Grosbeak. 
Posted by Bird D. on 05/25/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING 18TH - 24TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
The 3 Rose-breasted Grosbeak together, an unprecedented record for
the San Luis Valley! 
Posted by Bird D. on 05/25/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING 18TH - 24TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
American Goldfinch.
Not so rare but a fine bird in anyone's book! 
Posted by Bird D. on 05/25/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING 10TH - 17TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
Broad-tailed Hummingbird.
Many Hummingbirds have been passing through including Black-chinned. 
Posted by Bird D. on 05/21/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING 10TH - 17TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
 Barn Swallow around the ranch HQ.
Posted by Bird D. on 05/21/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING 10TH - 17TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
Audubon's Warbler. 
Posted by Bird D. on 05/21/2013

ZAPATA BIRDING 10TH - 17TH MAY
Category: Live from the Ranch
Zapata Birding 10th – 17th May.




May is a busy month for birds! All kinds of migrants are pouring into North America from Central and South America.
Here at Zapata, the number and variety species is increasing daily. The rising temperature brings about a huge emergence of insect and invertebrate life, which in turn provides food for newly arrived migrant birds looking to feed up and continue their journey north, some of which will still be 1000’s miles from the final breeding destination. So it’s no surprise that the “oasis” of trees and cover on the ranch provide an excellent stop over as birds pass through the San Luis Valley.

Warblers added splashes of colour to the bare trees including Audubon’s, Myrtle, Orange-crowned, Virginia’s, Townsend’s and Yellow Warblers. Scarce species turned up too with 2 Nashville Warblers on the 14th, single Black and White Warblers recorded on the 14th and 16th and a Black-throated Grey Warbler on the 11th. By the middle of the week many Yellow Warblers were in song and defending territories amongst the HQ cottonwoods.

Swallow numbers went from a few Barn Swallows on the 10th to many hundreds of Cliff Swallow, Violet-green Swallow by the weeks end. Single Tree Swallows and Bank Swallows on the 16th. As I write all the Cliff Swallow colonies on the workshop and abandoned properties have been reoccupied with birds busily repairing nests, and Violet-greens prospecting tree cavities for potential nest sites.

Bullock’s Orioles begun to arrive from 15th with up to 5 birds emptying the hummingbird feeders of their “nectar” on the 16th. Black-headed Grosbeaks arrived from that date too. A pair of Lewis’s Woodpeckers were around at the beginning of the week but not subsequently, in keeping with their nomadic habits.

Hummingbirds have buzzed through the ranch with Broad-tailed and Black-chinned being seen with regularity on from the 13th.
The first Warbling Vireo and Western Kingbirds recorded on the 14th.

Being at such elevation some species are yet to arrive such as Nighthawks, Tanagers, more vireos and Flycatchers, not forgetting of course the local Black Swifts. With snow still on the surrounding peaks and their waterfall nesting sites still partially frozen, it’s as if they know there’s no point in rushing back just yet.

 
Posted by Bird D. on 05/21/2013

   
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