26 March 2009

Another American Pipit

Bored with my normal afterschool routine, I headed down to Connected Lakes State Park to bird around a little bit. The weather today has been stormy and not good for migrants, so I didn't expect anything. The heavy clouds and bursts of wind gave the walk an eerie mood. As I walked around, I decided to go to the confluence of the Colorado River and Redlands Canal to see if a late Barrow's Goldeneye or Canvasback was loafing around. When I got there after bushwhacking through some tamarisk, I was disappointed to find only Mallards. But then, as I took a step forward, I flushed a surprisingly silent American Pipit off the river bank.

Normally, a pipit is nothing to be excited about, but seeing that lone pipit made me realize something. This winter CBC, my friends and I rafted the river and had over 170 pipits (if my memory serves me right), over 30 of which were in one flock! So what happened to them? The rest of my winter in Colorado was generally pipit-less. I walked the river but never saw them flying around. I imagine as the winter progressed, they moved on south. At this time of year, I always assumed they'd be on their way to higher elevations and latitudes. As that pipit flew in a wide circle over the river this afternoon, I realized I had accomplished my goal for the day: finding a migrant. I was hoping for something coming up from the south, but today's storms are probably to blame for the pipit I saw and for keeping the new stuff south. I then realized that this pipit was probably the last low elevation pipit I'll see this year. That lone bird made me consider how dangerous it is to get too caught up in what's new, because you never know when you'll see your last of something mixed in.

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