Wilson's Phalarope, Greeley


Rocky Mountain Nat. Park, Pawnee Nat. Grasslands, & Mt. Evans
20-25 June 2006
by Henry Detwiler

After class and on the weekend, sometimes with Russ, sometimes alone, I took every opportunity to get out and see the birds!
species -- bird list is at the bottom of the page
Click on thumbnail pictures for full-sized photos.   

Russ and I picked up our rental after noon and made a bee-line to Rocky Mountain National Park.  Just past the highest point in the park (via auto), we stopped at the Medicine Bow parking lot and were greeted by a herd of Elk and a profusion of  tundra wildflowers.

Elk, Rocky Mountain National Park

Bighorn Sheep, RMNP

However, our search for ptarmigan was cut prematurely short by a lack of oxygen.  Coming straight from an altitude of 300', and ascending to 12,000', we were panting before we'd walked a dozen yards.  If the elk had been carnivores, we'd have been goners.  We did see Mountain Bluebird, American Pipit, White-crowned Sparrow, & two bighorns before retreating downhill.

Farther down the mountain, we saw Gray Jays by the road, and then Clark's Nutcrackers at some of the parking areas.  Down in Endo Valley, swallows were everywhere, and we watched a Mountain Chickadee bringing worms to its young in a nest cavity.

Violet-Green Swallow
Rocky Mt. National Park

Three-toed Woodpecker
Rocky Mt. National Park

The trail at the end of the last picnic area followed a sparkling stream through mixed forest.  After sorting through a number of sapsuckers and Hairy Woodpeckers, Russ points at a bird, and proclaims "There it is."  Of course he had no idea what kind of woodpecker it was, but he was right!  It was a male Three-toed Woodpecker.  Soon afterward I spotted this female even closer to us.

After class over the next three days, Russ and I set out to find and photograph the local bird life.  Along the Teller Farms trail we tried twice to see Bobolinks, missing them but seeing the much less common Dickcissels both times.  Finally, the third time was a charm, and I spotted two males.  Meanwhile, this young prairie dog watched us.

Juvenile Prairie Dog

American Dipper

Russ' favorite bird is the dipper, so we made a point of tracking down one.  The  individual above was at El Dorado Springs, where we also scored with a singing Red-eyed Vireo.

Horned Lark
Pawnee National Grasslands

Mountain Plover
Pawnee National Grasslands

On Friday afternoon, after dropping Russ off at the airport, I drove north to the Pawnee National Grasslands.  Here I ticked off Chestnut-collared & McCown's Longspurs, Lark Bunting, and Mountain Plover, among others.
Due to a stiff wind out of the west, Horned Larks and Lark Buntings were perched on the fences in a "take-off" position, facing into the breeze.  The Lark Buntings and the McCown's Longspurs were abundant, but I only spied one Chestnut-collared Longspur.  In an abandoned house, I found a nest with four, almost-fledged, Say's Phoebe young.  Mother phoebe wasn't pleased with my presence, so I beat a hasty retreat.

Lark Bunting
Pawnee National Grasslands

 Tundra Flowers at Summit Lake

On my return hike the clouds, wind, and mist moved in, dropping the temperature to near freezing.  By the time I saw a pair of rosy-finches on one of the snow fields next to the lake, my fingers were so numb I could hardly take this picture.

On Saturday morning I headed up to Echo Lake for some birding, and then even farther to Summit Lake (photo below) at 12,000'.  The tundra wildflowers were putting on a good show, as were the birds.  The past two years I've found White-tailed Ptarmigan with chicks here, but she was a no-show this time. 

Brown-capped Rosy-Finch
Summit Lake

Summit Lake (on way to Mt. Evans) at 12,000'


Beaver Creek Bog - Veery Site

Later in the afternoon I took the road west of Nederland to Caribou Ranch Open Space.  Along Beaver Creek, a couple of miles west of Nederland, this fine bog hosted my first Veery for Colorado, and Fox Sparrows.  At the end of the road was another beautiful alpine area surrounding the old mining camp of Caribou.  Flycatchers, sparrows, swallows, and the only Red Crossbills for the trip were flying around.  A couple of decaying buildings was all that remained of the old community.

The meadows around Caribou had some of the best wildflower displays I've seen to date.  Numerous Colorado Columbines and Shooting Stars vied with the birds for my attention.

Colorado Columbines

Red Rocks Lake
Brainard Recreation Area

A final trip to Brainard Recreation Area didn't turn up any more birds, but the mirror-like lakes and the sinking sun were beautiful sights.

On Sunday morning I took a short walk up Gregory Canyon, on the west edge of Boulder.  Here I had some fine views of Virginia's and MacGillivray's Warblers, Plumbeous Vireo, and Western Tanager.  A battered-looking Mountain Chickadee was feeding two scruffy-looking chicks, and I also saw two brown juvenile speckled towhees.  Finally, before catching my flight home, I stopped at Barr Lake State Park and saw two recently-fledged Bald Eagles, both a California and a Franklin's Gull, and a Bullock's Oriole feeding her young.  It was another fine trip to Colorado!

Spotted Towhee, Gregory Canyon



Colorado, 20-25 June 2006
# Species
1 Pied-billed Grebe
2 Western Grebe
3 American White Pelican
4 Double-crested Cormorant
5 Great Blue Heron
6 Great Egret
7 Snowy Egret
8 Canada Goose
9 Mallard
10 Blue-winged Teal
11 Cinnamon Teal
12 Northern Pintail
13 Ring-necked Duck
14 Bald Eagle
15 Cooper's Hawk
16 Swainson's Hawk
17 Red-tailed Hawk
18 American Kestrel
19 Ring-necked Pheasant
20 American Coot
21 Killdeer
22 Greater Yellowlegs
23 Spotted Sandpiper
24 Wilson's Snipe
25 Wilson's Phalarope
26 Turkey Vulture
27 Franklin's Gull
28 Ring-billed Gull
29 California Gull
30 Black Tern
31 Band-tailed Pigeon
32 Mourning Dove
33 Burrowing Owl
34 Common Nighthawk
35 White-throated Swift
36 Broad-tailed Hummingbird
37 Williamson's Sapsucker
38 Red-naped Sapsucker
39 Downy Woodpecker
40 Hairy Woodpecker
41 Three-toed Woodpecker
42 Northern Flicker
43 Western Wood Pewee
44 Willow Flycatcher
45 Hammond's Flycatcher
46 Cordilleran Flycatcher
47 Say's Phoebe
48 Western Kingbird
49 Eastern Kingbird
50 Loggerhead Shrike
51 Plumbeous Vireo
52 Warbling Vireo
53 Red-eyed Vireo
54 Gray Jay
55 Stellar's Jay
56 Blue Jay
57 Clark's Nutcracker
58 Black-billed Magpie
59 American Crow
60 Common Raven
61 Horned Lark
# Species
62 Violet-green Swallow
63 Cliff Swallow
64 Barn Swallow
65 Black-capped Chickadee
66 Mountain Chickadee
67 Red-breasted Nuthatch
68 White-breasted Nuthatch
69 Rock Wren
70 Canyon Wren
71 House Wren
72 American Dipper
73 Western Bluebird
74 Mountain Bluebird
75 Townsend's Solitaire
76 Veery
77 Hermit Thrush
78 American Robin
79 Gray Catbird
80 Brown Thrasher
81 European Starling
82 American Pipit
83 Cedar Waxwing
84 Virginia's Warbler
85 Yellow Warbler
86 Yellow-breasted Chat
87 Yellow-rumped Warbler
88 Common Yellowthroat
89 Macgillivray's Warbler
90 Western Tanager
91 Spotted Towhee
92 Cassin's Sparrow
93 Chipping Sparrow
94 Brewer's Sparrow
95 Lark Sparrow
96 Lark Bunting
97 Savannah Sparrow
98 Grasshopper Sparrow
99 Fox Sparrow
100 Song Sparrow
101 Lincoln's Sparrow
102 White-crowned Sparrow
103 Dark-eyed Junco
104 Mccown's Longspur
105 Chestnut-collared Longspur
106 Black-headed Grosbeak
107 Lazuli Bunting
108 Dickcissel
109 Bobolink
110 Red-winged Blackbird
111 Eastern Meadowlark
112 Yellow-headed Blackbird
113 Common Grackle
114 Brown-headed Cowbird
115 Orchard Oriole
116 Bullock's Oriole
117 Brown-capped Rosy Finch
118 House Finch
119 Red Crossbill
120 Pine Siskin
121 Lesser Goldfinch
122 American Goldfinch
123 House Sparrow

Photos Henry Detwiler