Total ABA Species Recorded During 2010 - 731

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Tale of a Ptarmigan

I had contacted my friend Karl Stecher, a Denver neurosurgeon, who agreed to join us this morning for our ptarmigan run.  We're staying with John's sister, Irene, and her husband in Arvada.  So Karl drove over here to go with us since we were nearer I-70, the road west.  At 7:30am we were underway and by 9:00 we had reached Loveland Pass.  It was a gorgeous morning with a very bright sky.  Nevertheless we donned our warm clothing since there was a wind blowing.  We began by scanning with binoculars and scopes all the willows and spruce we could see from the parking lot at the pass.  We then moved around a little mound and scanned to the west.  Another scan to the east and Sue Riffe a middle school band director from Lyons arrived.  She shared her techniques for hunting ptarmigans and we got ready to move to the next parking area downhill.  At that point a group from Minnesota, including a person from Northern Virginia, arrived in a van.  The leader whose name a failed to get said they had just left a ptarmigan at the edge of the second parking area downhill.  In my haste I barely thanked the message bearers for which I apologize.  We hopped into the car and roared down hill missing the designated parking area and forcing us to go to the next one, an agonizingly long way past the second.  But we got back there and after looking much too far, spotted the bird at the very edge of the plowed parking area.  Many photos were taken.  The bird was nibbling on the willow buds, moving very slowly on its feathery snowshoes.  It was smaller than expected and would be virtually impossible to see in the white-on-white environment.  We were glad that this bird had come to the willows near the road  to feed.  We spent the next few hours driving around the mountains looking and listening for crossbills before returning to Arvada.  The ptarmigan brought the year list total to 459.

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  1. I love these photos! The white bird in the snow is magnificent! What a beautiful bird. Congrats on such a sweet find. Renee

  2. Finally got a chance to check up on the progress. Nice job on all the chicken birds. I'm now in Seattle. Eating seafood.

  3. It sure was nice meeting you and birding. What great looks at the Ptarmigan! I did find the White-winged Scoter in the SE corner of the reservoire and the Trumpeter Swan just down hill at the Twin Lakes area. Best of luck with the trip! Sue Riffe