Thursday, November 20, 2008

Four Corners Trip Overview

I made a trip west, mostly in New Mexico, Utah, and Colorado, in November 2008. I was sorta hoping to break 7000 total tics, and fell just two short. Normally it wouldn't be a good time for birding for new species on state lists except that several states had very few waterfowl and it was a good time to catch them going or arriving south. I was also just plain needing to get out of town, and gas had become suddenly affordable again.

The basic route was west through Oklahoma and across the Texas panhandle, then diagonally southwest across New Mexico. I spent several days in Silver City, where I had lived, to visit friends and strenghthen old relationships of various kinds. From there it was north farther than I'd planned into Colorado, clipping a corner going to Moab, Utah, and some more friendship boosting. A prime focus of the trip was Bear River Refuge in northern Utah, which lived up to my hopes, then a short excursion into Idaho, and a corner of Wyoming, back into Utah at Flaming Gorge, then eastward for three days in Colorado, and homeward across Kansas.

The weather on the outbound leg was clear and mild, the nights slightly chilly as I gained elevation. The altitude headache lasted four or five days, but was mixed with a standard cold and some allergies. On the way back I got to see the world freeze up before my eyes as a big cold front came down the west side of the Rockies.

Highlights were several bright nights around the full moon on the outbound leg, lots of Great Horned Owls, Sandhill Cranes and Snow Geese in New Mexico, Snow Buntings on the south edge of their normal range, a herd of Bighorn Sheep at Red Canyon, two chasing in a circle around the truck, and four Tundra Swans in Kansas. I was more sucessful than I'd anticipated in finding new tics, even getting four in Texas. The whole trip took 16 days, and cost about $1600, including nice meals and some books and maps.

And I had some great visits with old friends, Bob and Diana Leyba, and Patrck Mulligan in Silver City, and a renewed crush on my old crush Laura Ramnarace. Managed to get in a good visit with Serena Supplee, the great Colorado Plateau artist, even with showing up un-announced.


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