Thursday, May 27, 2010

Colorado, eastern

Sunday, April 11, 2010

As I came into Colorado with the sun in the rear-view mirrors, the breeze was a tailwind and I sailed west. First stop was the National Park Service (hereafter NPS) site of the Sand Creek Massacre. Indians died there without a chance to fight. I got there too early and the gates were still closed. Didn't linger, but some other time I'll work in a real visit. Then on west, pick up the Interstate through Denver and north to Ft Collins where I had an appointment with a pair of White-winged Crossbills on a nest in the corner of a cemetery next to a golf driving range. When I first pulled up and parked, the folks waved me off to a different space since I'd made my first choice in the impact zone. Still found the spotting scopes set up and the monitors on the job. I would have never found them on my own since the birds were in deep thick cover about forty feet up a Spruce tree. It wasn't too long a a wait until the parents showed up to feed the two nestlings, and I got a poor quick look at the males back and wing. First lifer for the trip.

I celebrated by going to REI and buying a real nice two part parka on deep sale, perfect size, nice olive color, liner wearable separately. Optimal in all ways, and really good deal, $250 item for less than a hundred. Found the library and grazed wifi. From there back east a little to Pawnee NG, where I stayed in the campground. Ended up being there three days while I tried very hard to find some, or any, Mountain Plovers. The CG, which has produced great birds from time to time, where I've stayed three times now, had nothing to show but Robins and Starlings, spiced with a single Flicker and a pair of talkative Kestrels. Had a little spell of the blues, it was still early enough in the year that my seasonal depression could nibble at me.

Monday, April 12

Out early to check out the Weld County Reservoirs, Fossil Creek south of Ft Collins as well. Pretty good variety of ducks etc, added a few CO tics. Stopped by REI for a map, another Crossbill visit, saw both parents and both nestlings. On the way back to Weld County to look for Mountain Plovers made a stop at the landfill following listserv rumors of an Iceland Gull , a critter I've chase without luck before. Better today. Figured out that there was side dirt road that gave a view of the gulls loafing on a ridge of dirt and just started scanning. Maybe twenty minutes until payoff. Second trip lifer. Great big all pale gull with faint yellowish mottling, gave me over a minute look, enough to study it and then the field guide. Always do it in that order, bird first as in as much detail as your wit allows, then, only then, the guide which may point out a salient missed detail to check. You'll have the guide for years, but the bird for only seconds or minutes. Some folks get pictures but I haven't spent the money it takes for the kind of equipment that gives a better view than decent binocs.

Further west I started checking out methodically all the places that had been posted as sites for Mountain Plover, current year and some previous. Traveled maybe sixty miles of highway and dirt roads. And once I had an idea what that habitat looked like I'd just stop at anything with low sparse vegetation and some bare dirt. Some places were Prairie Dog towns, not all, and I did find a Burrowing Owl in one. But no Plovers. Back to the campground, a nice little visit with two local women from the little village across the highway taking a constitutional, still no good birds. Dark and sleep after a little reading.


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