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Colorado Trip Report 2021


Seanbirds
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On 9/8/2021 at 5:34 AM, Clip said:

Jealous of the Band-tailed Pigeon! I never managed to see one when I lived in Colorado. The very best place to see American Dippers is at Lair of the Bear above Morrison, Colorado. You were no where near there though. Perhaps another time.

The one time I think I saw a Dipper was up at Summit Lake on Mt. Evans. Didn't take a picture of it, and wasn't a birder at the time. Sigh.

 

On 9/7/2021 at 6:58 PM, Seanbirds said:

Then we started seeing signs of Bear (scat and claw marks on trees) which was quite unnerving. Finally we came to a huge fallen tree that blocked the road up ahead. We realized we had taken the wrong trail and had to go back. By then we were all dead tired and very dispirited. On the way back down the trail we started singing to lift our spirits. It really helped!

The singing probably helped keep the bears away, at any rate.

 

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9 hours ago, meghann said:

The one time I think I saw a Dipper was up at Summit Lake on Mt. Evans. Didn't take a picture of it, and wasn't a birder at the time. Sigh.

 

The singing probably helped keep the bears away, at any rate.

 

There are of course other places to see them but they are more hit and miss. Lair of the Bear was pretty reliable and reliable year round.

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Day 4:

Our last full day in Colorado.

I woke up early this morning so I could have a bit of birding in before breakfast (waffles.) @Bombycilla Cedorum was up early too (which is quite unusual). I was just getting ready to go outside when he saw a woodpecker outside the window. Turns out, it was a Williamson's Sapsucker*! After that, I went out and did a little birding at a spot in the campground that I knew had some good stuff. There I got my flyover lifer Brewer's Blackbird* and the first Mountain Chickadee and Pine Siskin of the trip. My favorite sighting there was not a bird however, it was my mammal lifer Tassel-eared Squirrel. 

Upon coming back to our camping site, I found a ton of Pygmy Nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees foraging very close to where I was standing. I sat down on a log and had a fun time photographing them because they were so close. In fact, a Chickadee and a Nuthatch each landed on the ground within two feet of me! As you can imagine I was ecstatic. It was hard to tear myself away but soon the little mixed flock left of their own accord.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94214984

Later in the morning we went to the spot I had the highest hopes for: Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The only really disappointing thing about it was the number of people there (way too many!! 😞). The birding was still good however, as you will see. A ways down the trail, I heard a weird buzzy-sounding call that was slowly moving away from us. When we finally caught up to it, it happened to be a Plumbeous Vireo*! Didn't have much time to photograph it though, because it took off a few seconds after it saw us. The only other big highlights at that spot were a lot of Lesser Goldfinches, and a couple of Virginia's Warblers* on the way out.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94241314

In the evening I decided to do one more checklist back at the campground. I was not disappointed, as I found my first ever "Gray-headed" Dark-eyed Juncos and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94246952

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Day 5:

Packing up and getting ready to leave after breakfast (waffles 😖).

As I was loading up some stuff into the car, I heard some loud, high-pitched, “chip” calls. I went to investigate and found an adorable little Colorado Chipmunk calling at the top of his lungs. So much for tracking down an unfamiliar “bird” 😆

We soon left but dad wanted to grab a couple things at Walmart so we stopped there for a minute. I was expecting grackles but I guess the Rocky Mountain region replaces grackles for American Crows in store parking lots because that’s exactly what I found. Even though they were quite used to people, crows will be crows, so they didn’t let me get very close.

Just out of the mountains (road birding on the way back) I finally found a Prairie Falcon* that I could confirm an ID on. Also saw some Pronghorn and a Brewer’s Blackbird. After that it was just “miles and miles of miles and miles” that seemed to go on forever. But finally we did make it, and how good it was to be back home!!

Thus concludes my account of our trip to Colorado this year. I hope it will not be the last!

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Lifer count:

Mammals: 5

  • Mule Deer
  • Desert Cottontail
  • Colorado Chipmunk
  • Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel
  • Tassel-eared Squirrel

Birds: 14

  • Broad-winged Hawk
  • Cassin's Kingbird
  • Red-naped Sapsucker
  • Band-tailed Pigeon
  • White-throated Swift
  • Western Wood-Pewee
  • Green-tailed Towhee
  • Brewer's Sparrow
  • Canyon Wren
  • Olive-sided Flycatcher
  • Williamson's Sapsucker
  • Brewer's Blackbird
  • Plumbeous Vireo
  • Virginia's Warbler
  • Prairie Falcon

Herps: 2

  • Western Terrestrial Gartersnake
  • Plateau Fence Lizard

 

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On 9/2/2021 at 9:05 PM, Seanbirds said:

"*" indicates lifer.

 

Day 1:

Lots and lots of driving today, some of which was done by @Bombycilla Cedorum. The most interesting road birds include:

KS

Upland Sandpiper 

Broad-winged Hawk*

CO

Red-headed Woodpecker (On the high plains??!!??)

Cassin's Kingbird*

Common Raven

Black-billed Magpie

Possible Sage Thrasher

Possible Prairie Falcon

 

We arrived at Woodland Park 6:00 Mountain time and found a lot of interesting birds and mammals:

Steller's Jay (photo lifer!)

Black-billed Magpie

Possible Evening Grosbeak

A whole bunch of warblers that would not come out of the treetops for anything, so couldn't ID them.

 

Also found Mammal lifers Mule Deer and Desert Cottontail!

 

 

 

 

On 9/7/2021 at 3:10 PM, Seanbirds said:

Day 2:

Woke up this morning and did some birding at the campground where we were staying. Got some cool birds, including lifer Red-naped Sapsucker* and a House Wren that nearly gave me a heart attack because I thought it was a Rock Wren at first.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94109477

 

After breakfast (waffles!!) we went to Garden of the Gods to get a good checklist, landscape shots, and three lifers:  Band-tailed Pigeon*White-throated Swift*, and Western Wood Pewee*. Other goodies included Woodhouse's Scrub-JaySpotted Towhee, and Pygmy Nuthatch.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94176298

 

A little bit later we went to Fountain Creek Regional Park, with high hopes for a Dipper. Here's the tally (didn't bother making a checklist):

Blue Jay

Black-capped Chickadee

American Robin

That was IT.

Well, not quite. We did see a couple of American Bullfrogs as well as some cool bugs and an AMAZING waterfall (probably where the Dipper had been reported).

 

In the afternoon we were kinda bored (even though I got some great looks at Mule Deer), so Dad took us on a surprise trip to Manitou Lake, which was awesome. I got bird lifer Green-tailed Towhee*, Mammal lifers Colorado Chipmunk and Golden-mantled Ground Squirrel, and Herp lifer Western Terrestrial Gartersnake.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94176343

 

 

On 9/7/2021 at 5:58 PM, Seanbirds said:

Day 3:

Did a bit of birding on the morning after breakfast (waffles!) and got some decent birds, including the first Broad-tailed Hummingbird of the trip and the best photos I've ever gotten of a Northern Flicker.

In the afternoon we went to Aiken Canyon Preserve. We started hiking/birding and soon enough we came across a sign that said we were on a four mile loop. That was a bit more of a hike than we were expecting,   but we decided we could do it. For a while everything was good. I got my lifer Brewer's Sparrow* and a Plateau Fence Lizard (Herp lifer). Then one of our party did a faceplant on a rock and the rest of us got banged up a bit as well. But we kept going. Then a few minutes later the sky started to darken up and It was thundering like crazy and threatening to rain. I even saw some lightning. I prayed that the Lord would hold off the rain and He did. We only got a few light sprinkles while it was raining hard and hailing at the car. Finally it cleared up and the sun came out. It was beautiful. After that, we came to a split in the trail. one direction said "Loop Trail", which we were supposed to be on, and the other one said "Canyon Tail". Somehow @Bombycilla Cedorum got the signs mixed up and we went down the Canyon Trail instead! We went for about 2 miles down the wrong trail. It was rough and rocky and the forest thickened up pretty quickly. Then we started seeing signs of Bear (scat and claw marks on trees) which was quite unnerving. Finally we came to a huge fallen tree that blocked the road up ahead. We realized we had taken the wrong trail and had to go back. By then we were all dead tired and very dispirited. On the way back down the trail we started singing to lift our spirits. It really helped! We finally made it back to the right trail and stumbled the rest of the way back (turns out it was quite a long way) to the car. We all agreed that we never wanted to do that again.

In spite of all of this I still got two more lifers:

Canyon Wren*

Olive-sided Flycatcher* (a big nemesis before)

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94207214

 

7 hours ago, Seanbirds said:

Day 4:

Our last full day in Colorado.

I woke up early this morning so I could have a bit of birding in before breakfast (waffles.) @Bombycilla Cedorum was up early too (which is quite unusual). I was just getting ready to go outside when he saw a woodpecker outside the window. Turns out, it was a Williamson's Sapsucker*! After that, I went out and did a little birding at a spot in the campground that I knew had some good stuff. There I got my flyover lifer Brewer's Blackbird* and the first Mountain Chickadee and Pine Siskin of the trip. My favorite sighting there was not a bird however, it was my mammal lifer Tassel-eared Squirrel. 

Upon coming back to our camping site, I found a ton of Pygmy Nuthatches and Mountain Chickadees foraging very close to where I was standing. I sat down on a log and had a fun time photographing them because they were so close. In fact, a Chickadee and a Nuthatch each landed on the ground within two feet of me! As you can imagine I was ecstatic. It was hard to tear myself away but soon the little mixed flock left of their own accord.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94214984

Later in the morning we went to the spot I had the highest hopes for: Red Rock Canyon Open Space. The only really disappointing thing about it was the number of people there (way too many!! 😞). The birding was still good however, as you will see. A ways down the trail, I heard a weird buzzy-sounding call that was slowly moving away from us. When we finally caught up to it, it happened to be a Plumbeous Vireo*! Didn't have much time to photograph it though, because it took off a few seconds after it saw us. The only other big highlights at that spot were a lot of Lesser Goldfinches, and a couple of Virginia's Warblers* on the way out.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94241314

In the evening I decided to do one more checklist back at the campground. I was not disappointed, as I found my first ever "Gray-headed" Dark-eyed Juncos and a Broad-tailed Hummingbird.

https://ebird.org/checklist/S94246952

 

4 hours ago, Seanbirds said:

Day 5:

Packing up and getting ready to leave after breakfast (waffles 😖).

As I was loading up some stuff into the car, I heard some loud, high-pitched, “chip” calls. I went to investigate and found an adorable little Colorado Chipmunk calling at the top of his lungs. So much for tracking down an unfamiliar “bird” 😆

We soon left but dad wanted to grab a couple things at Walmart so we stopped there for a minute. I was expecting grackles but I guess the Rocky Mountain region replaces grackles for American Crows in store parking lots because that’s exactly what I found. Even though they were quite used to people, crows will be crows, so they didn’t let me get very close.

Just out of the mountains (road birding on the way back) I finally found a Prairie Falcon* that I could confirm an ID on. Also saw some Pronghorn and a Brewer’s Blackbird. After that it was just “miles and miles of miles and miles” that seemed to go on forever. But finally we did make it, and how good it was to be back home!!

Thus concludes my account of our trip to Colorado this year. I hope it will not be the last!

Just to put it all together…

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