Top 5 2017 Highlights

What would a blog be without the Top 5 2017 highlights for the year? Actually these will be highlights from the first 8 months since I didn’t get out much after Labor Day.

#5 Western Tanager

Top 5 2017 Highlights
Western Tanager

There is something about finally seeing a bird I should have encountered years ago. Seeing the Western Tanager in Colorado wasn’t like seeing the Golden Eagle. I expected the Golden Eagle would be hit or miss. But I have made numerous trips out west and should have seen Western Tanagers previously.

#4 Yellow-billed Cuckoo at Johnson County Park

Yellow-billed Cuckoo

Over the years I have seen numerous Yellow-billed Cuckoos but never one that stayed out in the open like the one at Johnson County Park last July. As Mike suggested it might have been a young bird or a hungry one.

#3 My First Butterfly ID – Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail

Once I started on my Nature Adventure I wondered what would be the first butterfly I’d ID. Appropriate enough it turned out to be an Eastern Tiger Swallowtail. I came across it last May at the end of birding at Laura Hare Nature Preserve. And for a newbie it wasn’t an easy ID. If I hadn’t taken numerous photos I wouldn’t have been able to make the call.

 #2 Long-billed Curlew

Long-billed Curlew

I can’t emphasis enough the surprise in coming across a shorebird in an arid environment. It just floored me. And especially a large shorebird. Seeing the pair in Western Colorado last June was easily the visual highlight of the year.

#1 Breeding Bird Survey (BBS) Routes

Turkey Vulture – Western Colorado

Nothing else I do can compare to the long-term good the BBS routes do for birding. I only wish I was in a position to run a couple more. This was the second year I ran them in Central Indiana and the first year in Western Colorado. My only question is why I didn’t start running them sooner??

Natural History Update

Back in April I blogged about the process to slowly diverse away from birds 100% and on to other Natural History organisms like butterflies and trees. Time for a Natural History Update.

Natural History Update
My one and only Monarch.

With concentration on birds during migration it probably wasn’t the best time to start diverting. But I did get a good enough feel on the few times I went out to know how to proceed. So this summer I’ll devote more time to each.

First let me say birding helped the learning curve with both. Unlike when I started birding I now know to check status and distribution. I have made wrong guesses on butterflies but looking at status and distribution helped to greatly narrow the field. And to a lesser extent it’s true with trees but people have planted them in all sorts of places so it doesn’t hold as true.

I haven’t got the knack of how to see butterflies and should go with a seasoned veteran like when I started birding. Back then our local Audubon Field Trips brought to life what I was learning in the Field Guides. Eventually the Law of Diminishing Returns took over because what I picked up was less over time. But I still enjoyed the group.

For now I’m going to fumble around with butterflies to see what I don’t know and then go with some “old-hands” to show how it should be done.

Trees have been easier since leaves started growing. The problem is looking at the branches up high to check the info in the field guides. And in my opinion the field guides aren’t has helpful as the butterfly field guides. But I’ll get there.

Now for a few butterfly photos.

I think I have them correct but like with my bird photos, please correct me if wrong. Only way to learn is to try.

Eastern Tiger Swallowtail
Clouded Sulphur
Cabbage White
Black Swallowtail on Red Clover
Pearl Crescent
Zabulon Skipper
Silver-spotted Skipper

And I already realize I’m noticing and trying to name butterflies and trees as I see them!