Rosy-Finches and Prairie-Chickens (more or Lesser)
We got to Beverly's house in La Veta, Colorado about 6:30am having picked up breakfast at the truck stop next to our motel, it being the only available food source in Walsenburg that was open early on a Sunday morning. After we were invited in to her viewing room, she graciously fixed me a fresh cup of coffee while we waited. We didn't have to wait long for the birds to start arriving. Two Grey-crowned and a Black Rosy-Finch came to a feeder just below her window (photos). The bunch of Evening Grosbeaks that followed was a treat for us Virginians who haven't seen the likes of such abundance in decades. A pair of Cassin's Finches rounded out the new year birds. Other birds appearing included magpies, redwings, Brown-headed Cowbirds, a Red-breasted Nuthatch, American Goldfinches. We went with Beverly to look at the feeders of her friends where Pinyon Jays had been coming. But the nephew who was supposed to keep the feeders stocked in their absence had been shirking his duties. There were no birds. We dropped Beverly off at her house with a big thank you and set off up the road to Cuchara Pass. There were many Northern (red-shafted) Flickers, Red-naped Sapsuckers drumming, Mountain Chickadees, American Robins, some Mountain Bluebirds and several flavors of juncos. We stopped for lunch in Valdez where we had a couple of sandwiches and shared a dish of real French fries. On through Trinidad and out onto the eastern plains where we took gravel roads to reach Cottonwood Canyon state wildlife area. In transit we spotted a nest of a Great Horned Owl with three young and a Swainson's Hawk. At the wildlife area we had Canyon and Bewick's Wren, Spotted Towhee, Eastern Phoebes, and a Lewis's Woodpecker, a nice mix of East and West. Then more gravel roads with large numbers of Horned Larks and smaller numbers of Western Meadowlarks and Vesper Sparrows. We finally reached our destination, Elkhart KS, but decided to go check out the prairie-chicken lek during daylight. The website directions made finding the site relatively easy. At the lek we got out of the car to check out the blind which we would use tomorrow. John heard a call and then saw a couple of Lesser Prairie-Chickens. We went into the blind, but something soon spooked them and they flew off. I counted 28 birds. We had sufficiently good looks that we decided to drive back toward our next destination rather than overnight in Elkhart. So I drove to Lamar CO where we got a motel for the night. While getting our stuff out of the back of the car, John noticed that one of the tires was low. We'll have to get it fixed tomorrow. At least it won't be Sunday then. The five new birds brings the year list total to 440.