Anyway, this was the first ever Birdathon run for Team Wrenegade. We consisted of 6 individuals, the core team being me and sis Lauren Burke. Other team members were Lori Brummer, Sarah Burbank, Stefan Karg and Garret Hultgren. We were partially sponsored by the owner of the Fort Collins Wild Birds Unlimited where I work – Lauren DeRosa.
Our official 24 hour period started at 5:00 p.m. on Saturday and went through 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.. yes we did sleep from 9:00 p.m. Saturday to 4:00 a.m. Sunday. Maybe next year we’ll try for an all-nighter!
My Car, Obviously.
Saturday night team, Garret, Stefan, Lauren and I ready for departure.
We started out at Pineridge Natural Area and Dixon Reservoir, where we found a number of great birds to get us started, including Western Tanager and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.
We made a quick stop at the City Cemetery, which garnered us one new species for the day – Rock Wren.
Stopping in the eastern portion of Fort Collins at the Prospect Ponds area, netted us some nice species, two particularly nice – Ring-necked Pheasant and Black-crowned Night Heron.
We ended the first leg of our Birdathon there with a total of 62 species.
“Where’d it go?”
Early the next morning our team headed out to the Grasslands, stopping at various points along the way. One of those spots yielded us a fine Grasshopper Sparrow. And just before arriving at Crow Valley Campground, we spotted a Blue Grosbeak on the fence at 65 MPH. We turned around to confirm and it was!
Crow Valley Campground – a birding hotspot – was great fun. The sighting of the day was TWO Magnolia Warblers. Life birds for 3 of us and a state bird for one! There was a report of a Blue-winged Warbler there so the place was crawling with birders, but no one found it to our knowledge. We racked up an impressive number of birds to our count and took off for the prairie.
We found McCown’s Longspurs there, but the elegant Mountain Plover eluded us. Our state bird – Lark Bunting – was everywhere delighting us with their bold displays.
Lori, Lauren, Sarah.
Hooded Warbler! Hooded Warbler!
Bustin’ into the Cemetary – gate securely locked with a simple knot.
It was legal AND funny. Guess you had to be there.
We then made our way down to the famous Lower Lathum / Beebe Draw birding hotspot. We added some great birds there – Cattle and Great Egret for two and were shown an American Bittern in a battle for lunch with what looked like a garter snake.
Lovely Yellow-headed Blackbird
An American Bittern eating a SNAKE!Tearing ourselves away and at 118 species we decided to head for the hills, or rather the Rocky Mountains, by way of the Big Thompson Canyon. At Veinstenz-Smith Park we added Brown Creeper, Broad-tailed Hummingbird and Bushtit. Somehow all the way up the canyon we missed on American Dipper! We shot up to the YMCA of the Rockies , but added no new species. Time was running out. We headed to Rocky Mountain National Park and got in the woods to see what we could find.
Our first stop there yielded up Mountain Bluebird & Pygmy Nuthatch 123!
We zipped out of there with only 30 minutes left to Lower Beaver Meadows where we stumbled upon a small flock of American Pipits, 124!
Sarah, Lauren, Lori, Me.
We kept going up the road and got out at a fenced in habitat area with lots of aspen. Hoping to find a Sapsucker or other mountain species. Time was running out when Lori Brummer spotted a Cordilleran Flycatcher! 125 with only minutes left!