Saturday, April 19, 2008

Quick Denver trip last weekend

I flew to Denver, Colorado April 10th, and back home again on the 12th (well, actually, because of flight delays I arrived home at 2:30 am on the 13th). We had been having beautiful springtime weather in Ohio, but there was a bit of snow that had just fallen in Colorado - 8 inches in some areas. This is the view I had at the hotel where I stayed for the two nights I was in town.

Friday morning was for a quick trip to the Denver Botanic Garden to pull some specimens of Penstemon and representatives of Scrophulariaceae s.l. for some workshops I would be leading the next day for the Colorado Native Plant Society.

I had not been here before, and so it was fun to see the place.

It's a relatively new facility and it looked very modern. There were hundreds of school kids arriving as we finished the work in the herbarium.

Here's a view of the atrium area of the building.

I gave a talk at University of Colorado, Denver for the biology department at noon and then met with faculty and students for the rest of the afternoon. My host was Leo Bruederle, and he brought me in to visit with his students who are working on Penstemon.

My workshops were scheduled to start at 9 am on Saturday. Leo is an early riser and I was on east coast time, so we organized to meet very early so we could go do some birding at Cherry Creek State Park. The first bird of the day was a life bird for me - Western Meadowlark. I know I've seen this species when I was a kid growing up in Oregon, but I wasn't keeping a list back then.

The song is similar, but distinctly different from the Eastern Meadowlark (pic posted a couple of weeks ago).

AHV alert!

This was the start of an interesting display behavior that began when I approached too near this Killdeer. It might have been near its nest, but I couldn't tell for sure.

The bird fanned its tail feathers and wagged its tail for several minutes.

It pretty much kept its back to me the entire time.

After a few minutes, it quit doing that behavior and then just kept its eye on me. I always thought killdeers were rather plain, but in their fresh plumage I think they are very pretty.

The reservoir was chock full of aquatic fowl, including white pelican, hooded merganser (shown here), western grebe, pied-bill grebe, American coot, Canada goose, mallards, and California gulls.

This gull was all tangled up in fishing line. I felt pretty bad for it.

Here's a juvenile California gull.

American White Pelican. I have no idea why that growth is on the upper bill - most of the pelicans looked like this.

Lots of American coots were on the water.

I did two workshops for CONPS - one on the break up of Scrophulariaceae, and a second one on my Penstemon research.

L to R: Leo Bruederle, Lorain Yeats, Carol English.

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