Kay & I spent the past two weeks birding in southwest Colorado and in the San Luis Valley . The trip was planned as a county birding excursion, so we visited a lot of places along the way. On Escalante Creek in Delta county we refound the Black Phoebe that Vic reported earlier and had forty of more Chukar running across the road. In Ridgway off CR5 both Virginia Rail and Sora responded to our tape, the VIRA came right out into the open, the Sora was a bit more shy and called from the cover of the marsh. San Miguel and western Montrose counties produced a lot of common birds. The most notable sighting was Coen and Brenda having lunch on their front porch.
In Durango , I of course had to look for the White-eared Hummer. Susan Allerton went to a tremendous amount of trouble helping those of us who came to Durango to see the bird. I was visiting the Fisher residence for the third time when Susan came and told me to go to her house. THANK YOU SUSAN! While in the Durango we visited the upper Mancos River area in Montezuma County and found many high-elevation birds in the vast aspen and spruce/fir forests. Around Mancos we found nesting Bald Eagles northwest of town and at the Mancos cemetery a female Ladder-backed Woodpecker foraging on one of the many junipers there. “Birds of Western Colorado ” shows no records in western CO for this species, Sibley shows resident birds fairly close in AZ.. If anyone birds that area carry a camera, I wish I had. We also spent a day in southern Hinsdale County . The low point in this area is 7,800 feet where the Piedra River flows south into Archuleta County . Like northern Archuleta County the area supports vast stands of Ponderosa Pine, Gambel Oak, and open grassy meadows. Birds were common here that I have found nowhere else in Hinsdale, Turkey Vulture, American Kestrel, Lewis’s Woodpecker, Western Bluebird, Pygmy Nuthatch, & Western Meadowlark.
We birded the San Luis Valley for three days with my mom, Virginia Simmons. We saw a great variety of birds highlighted by lots of hatch year Red-tailed and Swainson’s Hawks. At Brown’s Lake SWA/Hindale (recommended by Coen) were Black-crowned Night-Herons and a Peregrine Falcon. Collared-Doves have taken over the San Luis Valley . As a side note we searched for EUCD’s everywhere we went and almost without exception we found them. We did not find Collared-Doves is San Juan , Hinsdale , or Mineral.
Our final stop was in Gunnison . We found Collared-Doves and Lewis’s Woodpeckers in the Gunnison Cemetery and walked the Neversink Trail. In the early morning mosquitos outnumbered Least Flycatchers 10 million to one! One of the birds was calling along the trail at the two trees cut down by beavers. We joined an alpine tundra field trip led by Ron Meyer and Jim Berry. On South Baldy Peak the Ptarmigan did not disappoint us, we had killer looks as close as ten feet to the birds and a big flock of rosy-finches as a bonus. On the following day, we headed into Hinsdale county for a third time via Powderhorn and Cebolla Creek. South of the Gunnison county line we were still in ag country with Western Kingbirds, Belted Kingfisher, and Savannah Sparrows. In spite of three days in Hinsdale County I am still shy of 100 species in that county, but Kay and I have seen some great scenery!
Now here we are back home again in the land of Steller ’s Jays and Band-tailed Pigeons.
Tom & Kay