I set out yesterday morning for a couple hours of birding up Avimor's Spring Valley Trail on a quest to find Avimor's first official Brown Creeper. I also hoped to see over-wintering Canyon and Rock Wrens and just maybe a Chukar or two. I struck out on all four! But seeing my second ever Winter Wren certainly made some of it up.
I also had one of those delightful birding experiences when you are in the middle of a mixed flock and birds are zipping all around you and they don't seem at all bothered by your presence. There were at least a dozen Black-capped Chickadees, half a dozen Ruby-crowned Kinglets, hordes of Dark-eyed Juncos, and Song Sparrows and I was right in there with them. I just love hearing and feeling those wing-beats!
I took the picture above from the top of a rocky outcropping where I usually find the Chukar, Canyon and Rock Wrens. I was facing toward the northwest. Our winter snow was obliterated by recent rains and 40 degree plus temps. Three Red-tailed Hawks circled in the morning sun making their trademark cries. Probably the same family group that nested here last spring.
The bird habitat is really impressive and this area seems to stay birdy all year. With sage, bitter, and hackberry brush on the slopes, willows and cottonwoods mingled with hawthorn along the creek, and almost constantly running water it is indeed a birding oasis. Spring will bring nesting Lazuli Buntings, Bullock's Orioles, Western Tanagers, Black-headed Grosbeaks and Yellow-breasted Chats, so be prepared for flashes of color!
Above is a shot of the creek below me. Below is the rocky slope facing south-east. Good Chukar country.
Nest Box Update: Thursday night, while I was taking a young man and his father working on his Eagle Scout project around looking at good nest box locations, we observed a Red-Shafted Northern Flicker at the hole and on the roof of the Screech Owl box we installed back in November. Maybe Flickers will use it this year!