What rarities have been spotted lately? Colorado Field Ornithologists maintains an online rare bird alert known as COBirds. You must be subscribed to post a message to COBirds, but anyone may view the archive. There is also a similar list entitled COBirders, which may be found on Yahoo groups.
Changes at Chico Basin Ranch
The Fall 2017 Bird Banding Station will be open September 5 through October 5. As always, field trips will be hosted throughout the season, so please share the information with any educators who might be interested.
If you or an organization you are affiliated with would like to bring a group (4 or more participants) to the Chico at any time of the year, please get in touch (call or email the ranch) before you arrive, so they can help plan for school groups that might be scheduled, road conditions, etc.
The 2017 Community Potluck is Saturday, September 23. See the invitation here.
Why Big Johnson Reservoir is being drained
This information that was provided by El Paso County Commissioner Dennis Hisey and is re-posted here from a recent column in the Fountain Valley News:
You may have noticed that the water in the Big Johnson Reservoir is getting lower not higher. Alert to her community, Deborah Stout-Meiniger noticed—and asked about it. Typically this time of the year, after the irrigation season is over the reservoir begins storing water to be released next spring at the start of the growing season.
According to Gary Steen, Manager of the Fountain Mutual Irrigation Company (FMIC), they are draining the reservoir to perform repairs on the dam and do some dredging to bring the reservoir back to the capacity it was designed for.
While not exactly the Hoover Dam, if you live downstream, which would be a good swath of homes below Widefield Park all the way to the rail road tracks, you have to appreciate the dam receives its regular inspections and the board members of the FMIC are taking their responsibilities seriously.
On the dredging side of the equation the capacity has been diminishing through the decades as sediment settles out of the millions of gallons of water that flow through the reservoir each year. For the past 15 years or so when they begin releasing water you notice an island appearing on the east side and as they continue to release water the island becomes a peninsula. The water is then concentrated in a pool by the outlet. Previous attempts to restore the capacity of the reservoir without draining it have proved to be cost prohibitive, not effective or both.
The work is expected to take a couple of years and the reservoir will remain dry for that time. Farmers dependent on the water for crops will receive water through augmentation. Basically, an agreement with another water provider to provide water to the farms and FMIC will replace that water at some other point in the system keeping everyone whole.
If this is Big Johnson Reservoir, where is Little Johnson Reservoir? The location is north of Bradley Road and south of the Milton E. Proby Parkway between Academy Blvd and Main. The property is primarily owned by Security Water District and is home to a solar garden. I have yet to talk to anyone that remembers it ever holding water and given the sandy soil in that area I suspect it was a theory that looked better on paper than in the field.
Colorado Birding Trails
Join us on the Colorado Birding Trail and experience a wildlife adventure of your own! Explore Colorado’s incredible diversity of wildlife and the habitats they depend on in an unbelievably spectacular setting. From the dry grasslands of the short-grass prairie to the snowy peaks of the Rocky Mountains, Colorado has more than 400 species of birds for you to seek, find and observe in a seemingly endless variety of fantastic habitats. See you on the trail!
You can pick up a hard copy (it’s also available online) of the Colorado Birding Trail booklet at the Dept. of Wildlife office at 4255 Sinton Rd. (where Aiken’s monthly meetings are held). They’re free!
News Flash: Birding Trail Expands Westward
The Colorado Birding Trail is well defined on the eastern plains. Now the CDOW is adding spots to the west. The latest site to be named is in Telluride. Learn more…
Looking for a great local viewing spot for Bald Eagles or have a hawk migration location to share with fellow bird lovers? Check out Audubon’s raptor map—which includes everything from raptor rehab facilities and Audubon nature centers to great places for hawk and eagle watching. Add your favorite raptor spot, share photos and leave tips for other birders. Post a raptor hot spot or find one near you.
(Note that the map is merely illustrated at right, and is not interactive on this website. Click on the links to get the “real” one.)
Colorado Birding Society’s List of Destinations
While somewhat out of date, this site is still very useful. It has a map of Colorado, divided into counties. Click on the county and you get a list of birding sites. There is also an alphabetical list, if you know the name of your destination.
If using this map, it would be worthwhile to check current conditions before setting out on a major birding trip. For example, the Colorado State Wildlife Area (SWA) is no longer a SWA. It is currently called Clear Spring Ranch. While the eastern part is still accessible, the area west of I-25 is closed to the public. Colorado Map and County Listings.
Bear Creek Park and Nature Center
245 Bear Creek Road, Colorado Springs, CO 80906
From I-25 Exit 141, go west on US Hwy 24 to 26th Street. Turn left (south) on 26th and proceed about 2 miles to Bear Creek Road.
Open Wednesday – Friday, 9 am – 2 pm, Saturday 9 am – 4 pm.
Hike the foothills, search for mule deer, and discover Bear Creek! Scrub oak thicket, ponderosa pine forests, meadows, a mountain creek, and abundant foothills wildlife attract children and adults to Bear Creek Regional Park and Nature Center. Interpretive programs, special events, guided and self-guided tours, and media presentations are offered all year.
Outside, two miles of self-guiding nature trails wind through the short grass prairie, scrub oak woodlands and cottonwood riparian communities. The nature trails are for “foot traffic only” and pets are prohibited.
All current programs are listed at:Bear Creek Nature Center Programs. Call 719-520-6387 for more information and to register.
Fountain Creek Park and Nature Center
320 Pepper Grass Lane, Fountain, CO 80817
Several man-made ponds along Fountain Creek attract a variety of wildlife, including deer, weasels, rodents, and of course, birds. The center also has an extensive series of classes for toddlers through adults. While the Center is closed on Mondays, the trails are open and available every day.
All current programs are listed at: Fountain Creek Nature Center Programs. Call 719-520-6745 for more information and to register.