March 2009 Archives

Otterly Amazing!

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On my walk along the Yampa River early this morning, I spotted a writhing black mass on the opposite bank.  When I looked through my binoculars, I was amazed to see four adult-sized otters frolicking with one another.  I watched for about 10 seconds before they slithered down the bank and disappeared into the river without so much as a splash.  I was elated, and Molly, my Duck Tolling Retriever, was too astonished to even bark.  This is the third time I have spotted otters along our stretch of the river, but it is the first time that I have witnessed them playing on land.  Of course, they disappeared before I could snap a picture, so I have no photo of the otters to include with my posting. But the glimpse I had of those amazing creatures will remain indelibly imprinted in my mind. 

What's more amazing is that just a few years ago there were no otters on the entire Yampa River.  They were extirpated in the early twentieth century due to over-hunting.  They were re-introduced into the Green River in the 1950's, and over time have made their way up the Green to the Yampa River. Because they still are far from common on the river, I consider their visit to our ranch an amazing event.

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Molly's reaction to the otters!

The Usual and the Unusual

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 Yampavian Ranch Bird Activity- Winter 2008-2009

Now that winter is fading fast, I thought I would highlight what has been both usual and unusual about the birds on the ranch these past few months.  What has been unusual this winter is that not a single unusual bird has shown up at our feeders. Almost every winter since we have lived here, we have had a rarity or two visit us.  

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Two years ago a female pheasant appeared around Thanksgiving; we guessed that she might have been an escapee from a nearby game farm. She came reliably to the feeder throughout that winter and well into the spring; when she wasn't feeding, she roosted under the branches of our tallest Colorado blue spruce next to the county road.  Early in May she suddenly stopped showing up, and we feared that the resident fox might have been responsible for her demise.  Last winter we had an invasion of Common Redpoll as well as a large flock of Rosy-finches (Grey-capped, Brown-capped, and Black).  The Rosy-finches ate us out of house and home, but we loved hosting them.  Because of the redpolls and rosy-finches, we also hosted birders from other parts of Colorado (as well as from out-of-state) who needed to add these birds to their life or county lists.   

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This winter the common birds at our feeders have been the usual suspects for Northwest Colorado- Red-winged Blackbirds, American Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Black-capped Chickadees, Black-billed Magpies, Eurasian Collared Doves, and a few Downy Woodpeckers.   Recently, several Juncos arrived along with a few American Tree Sparrows, a single Evening Grosbeak, and a single Spotted Towhee.  Perhaps, the only bird that stayed throughout the winter that might be considered unusual (at least for Colorado) was the American Robin. Flocks of robins have been seen on the ranch as well as all over the county. In the past we have seen an occasional robin late into December, but this year they never left the area, apparently feasting off the huge berry crop from last summer.  

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I know that spring is fast approaching now because the last few days I have heard the resident pair of Great-horned owls hooting to each other late at night, and the Sandhill Cranes calling their magnificent call in the early morning.  The snow is melting, and I can hardly wait to see what will show up during this spring's migration. 

About this Archive

This page is an archive of entries from March 2009 listed from newest to oldest.

February 2008 is the previous archive.

April 2009 is the next archive.

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