Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Dusky Grouse

We left our stuff in the motel room and returned to Black Canyon of the Gunnison this morning before sunrise . At 6:15am we had a male and female Dusky Grouse (photos) right along the road in almost exactly the same location where Dave Johnson and I had one four years ago. In the second photo the male was calling. You can see his puffed out upper breast. We didn't even have to leave the warmth of the car. Back to the motel to pick up our stuff.
From Montrose we headed northwest toward Grand Junction and the Colorado River.  We bypassed the town and climbed the steep escarpment which is the rim of Colorado National Monument, a place I had passed several times but never gotten off the highway to visit.  When we topped the rim, we drove to the campground which had a relatively level piece of pinon/juniper habitat.  We hadn't birded long before we heard the call of a Pinyon Jay, one of the birds we were after.  We chased it down, and I took its picture (photo).  We also saw several Juniper Titmice, one of two species recently formed by the split of Plain Titmouse.  We took the drive along the rim with Peregrine Falcon being the best bird.  There were lots of White-throated Swifts dueting and chittering and examining possible nesting crevices in the cliffs.  The view from the rim is spectacular.  At one point we moved away from the rim onto the top of the mesa where we looked amid the sage for Brewer's Sparrows.  It was clear they have not yet arrived.
After a coffee and a scone in Grand Junction, we jumped onto I-70 and followed the Colorado River east.  We encountered workmen conducting what was referred in the signage as "scaling," a process we weren't familiar with.  Apparently it involves removing stone from the cliff face that the workers felt might soon fall on the highway.  Interesting.  Along the way we saw an Osprey on a nest and a Golden Eagle.
At Rifle we left the interstate and headed north to a reservoir that had a Common Loon and a bunch of Western Grebes.  The nearby state park had a neat triple waterfall but not the hoped-for American Dipper.  We drove further north through Craig and east to Hayden where we scouted the area of a sage-grouse lek.  Unfortunately the snow had made the road impassable, so we had to walk in.  I think we have it ready for an earlier try tomorrow.  We then went to an area that supposedly has a Sharp-tailed Grouse lek.  There were no grouse there, but we'll give it the early morning look tomorrow.  There were no motels in Hayden, so we went back to Craig where we had dinner and got a motel with an interesting second floor room above the office.  Another early morning tomorrow.  But today we added three year birds giving me 447 for the year.

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1 comment:

  1. I wondered why there were 2 posts :-) Renee