Birds of the Western Slope June 1, 2016

By Evelyn Horn


Hart's Basin Crane

The phone just rang ... it was Jim Wallace, our most-reliable craniac. He said there are cranes at Hart's Basin. He said that there are 10.

It's nearly the end of May! These birds should be nesting! I think. The nesting pairs should be well to our north, but then they don't nest until their fourth or fifth year. The young birds are shagged away by the nesting pair each year, so there's some time to "explore."

And so it's down to the reservoir for me. In the field north of the causeway (North Road) there is bird movement. Two birds ... they look very dark ... ibis? Noo! Up come two heads, all white. Bald eagles! A gull flies across the road, there are several cormorants along Vela's shore, lots of swallows in the air and a dozen or so pelicans along the inlet. This little reservoir is a neat place!

But I go on down to the eastern end where Jim said the cranes were. Someone is parked and I slow to ask if they have seen cranes. And the cranes are right out there! Questions flood my mind. Where did they come from? Why are they here?

In the past we've had a pair that nested here and we're happy about that. But 10 birds! The gentleman that's parked isn't interested in chatting. I go on and turn around.

Coming back down North Road. I can see the birds and this time I see 11. One seems less sure of itself. Two of the birds move toward the water and the third one scurries after them ... now the pair moves away and the third bird follows them. I'd bet that it's a juvenile.

And there is a boat out on the water. It's windy and the boat is bouncing around in the water. Not a comfortable ride! The pelicans that were along the inlet have moved back into the shelter of the trees. Don't see any cormorants ... no swallows either. It distresses me to see the boat, or any human activity on our little reservoir. There are places aplenty for people. We have swimming facilites at Bill Heddles in Delta, at Montrose and Hotchkiss. For picnics and camping we have Paonia Reservoir, Confluence Park, Ridgway and there's also Blue Mesa Reservoir. As well as the few puddles up on Grand Mesa. As far as I know, this little reservoir is the ONLY place without human play space. I think we could afford to let the birds have it, if we just thought about it a bit.