I took a quick two day trip to northwest Colorado to do some fall water birding. My first stop was at Stagecoach Res in Routt County on Friday 7 November. Best birds were one Greater Scaup, two Surf Scoters (new county record maybe), eight Barrow's Goldeneyes, one Hooded Merganser, one Common Loon, one Horned Grebe and one Herring Gull. There were several other waterbird species present.
Next I went to Catamount Res and found a Prairie Falcon on a power pole. At Catamount I found Forrest and way too many waterbirds to look at. I did find the four Tundra Swans, a Canvasback and most common duck species. I could not find any Red-breasted Mergansers, however.
On the Craig I went to see Forrest's Tundra Swan and it was present. Now I went to plan "B" and Browns Park. Could birding be good there? I arrived at 8:00 PM and camped in my truck.
Early on Nov 8 I drove the car birding loop at Brown's Park. As I started around the loop I noted several white birds on a pond and thought they must be Snow Geese. I parked and walk over the ridge to see what these white birds were. As it turned out they were all Tundra Swans, 22 of them. While I watch them 6 more flew overhead. They were all speaking Tundra as the group overhead spoke to the ones on the water. In total in two days I saw 33 Tundra Swans. That is more than I have seen in the last 25 years of birding in Colorado. I did look over, very carefully, the swans at Brown's Park to make sure they were Tundra. Fifty percent were juveniles or hatch year birds.
Best other birds were not water birds at Browns Park. There were Rough-legged Hawks, 3 and Northern Shrikes, 4.
On the Rio Blanco Res, present were 9 Red-breasted Merganser and one Common Loon. On to Kenney Reservoir. It would have been a complete blowout except to two Red-breasted Merganser.
The drive home produced two more good ducks. There were two Surf Scoters on the left hand gravel pit just west of Whitewater on the west side of the Gunnison River on Co-141. One was an adult male, the first I have seen in western Colorado.
At the confluence of Roc Creek and the Dolores River a large flock of Wild Turkeys have been hanging out and were present again today. Just west of Nucla there were 9 Sandhill Cranes at about 5:00 this evening.
Back in the old days I used to do these crazy birding trips frequently. It was very rewarding seeing many good birds!