Today’s RFAS field trip to the Flattops was outstanding! We arrived at Deep Creek Overlook at 930 AM just as the air began to warm and moved upward. Birds were in the air on the thermals right away. Three Swainson’s Hawks and two Northern Goshawks were found and land birds included Kestrels, White-throated Swift, Clark ’s Nutcracker, Townsend’s Solitaire’s, and “Audubon’s” Warblers.
As we birded our way upward to White Owl Lake we found a Northern Harrier, Swanson’s, and Red-tailed Hawks; light and dark-morphed; adults and juveniles. Also seen were several Turkey Vultures riding the thermals out of Grizzly Creek. The Flattops are an interesting area in August. The population of rodents peaks there just as young raptors fledge in lower elevations and disperse in family groups to fatten up for the fall trip south. The thermals carry the birds easily to 10,000’+ elevation where they feast on ground-squirrels and their rodent cousins. Raptors seen, Northern Harrier, Northern Goshawk, Swainson’s and Red-tailed Hawks, and lots of Kestrels.
In the spruce-fir country we found high-elevation finches, Pine Grosbeaks, Cassin’s, Red Crossbills, and Siskins. Of course Gray Jay’s lurked around the campgrounds also. On the way back to Glenwood we stopped at the Dotsero gravel ponds where both Osprey nests have fledged young this year. We located three adult Osprey’s and two juveniles. Nice way to end the day!
Raptors 7 species, birders 8, total for the day 45 species (not bad for a high-elevation trip)!