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Roan Plateau - Rio Blanco/Garfield

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  • Tom & Kay McConnell
    Kay and I left early Saturday to search for Greater Sage-Grouse in Garfield County. There birds are present on high ridges on the Roan Plateau with access
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 15, 2010
      Kay and I left early Saturday to search for Greater Sage-Grouse in  Garfield County.  There birds are present on high ridges on the Roan Plateau with access from Debeque on south or Piceance Creek on the north.  (Many thanks to Art Dahl for his help on this)  We decided to try Saturday morning from the north heading in to the Roan Plateau on Rio Blanco CR 26 (Black Sulphur Creek Road).  Once above 8,000' the dry rolling hills were miles of sage with many small to medium sized stands of scraggly aspens, and very little montane shrubland or coniferous forest.  We topped out around 9,000' with sage-covered ridges extending in every direction, turning south and east we followed Skinner Ridge.  The maps call this County Road 267, but I doubt there has been a county vehicle up there in the past fifty years.  We GPS'd the Garfield County line and continued on coming to a locked gate after only 1/2 mile.  Lots of sageland birds around and I am certain Sage-Grouse also, but not this time.
      The half-dead aspen groves provide plenty of nest sites for swallows.  We saw Purple Martins at three locations in both Rio Blanco and Garfield Counties, one location had two juvies in a likely looking nest tree with two adults fying around ( Jason 12S 709563E 4396911N Rio Blanco ).  We found Swainsons Hawks and a Goshawk on top also, lower but similar to the open meadows found in the Flattops where both nest.  We returned by the same route and the view of the Cathedral Bluffs was amazing, one of those Chamber of Commerce vistas.  Back on Piceance Creek we stopped at a farm pond on Piceance Creek Road (Rio Blanco CR5) Mile Marker 15 that was loaded with shorebirds, Greater & Lesser Yellowlegs, Western, Least, Baird's, Wilson's Phalaropes, & White-faced Ibis.  Somehow going out to bird Garfield County we found eight new Rio Blanco birds (most of them shorebirds) and zero in Garfield. 
      Tom McConnell
      Glenwood Springs
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