2 - 9 June 2001
by Rob Batchelder
Peter Kaestner and I spent the week of
June 2-9, 2001, birding Colorado. We had two major goals for the trip:
Peter's primary goal was to find the handful of Colorado specialties
still missing from his 7,500+ species life list; my primary goal was to
boost my Colorado state list over the current reporting threshold for
the annual ABA List Report (though the threshold will likely increase
significantly next year). Having grown up in Boulder, I was also
looking forward to visiting some far-flung corners of my home state
that I had not previously seen (or in some cases even heard of).
In the space of 6½ days, we managed to cover every part of the state except the southwest, which Peter intended to visit with his family the week after our birding adventure. Peter did the lion's share of the trip planning, and we had a very focused itinerary by the time we met in Denver on June 2. Resources such as the Holt birdfinding guide, the Colorado Breeding Bird Atlas, various Internet web sites and ListServs, and tips from knowledgeable locals such as Larry Semo, Aileen Roberts Lotz, Brandon Percival, Ralph Jones, and others, proved invaluable for our planning.
By the end of the trip, we had tallied a total of 208 species. Peter bagged six of the nine birds he needed during our joint trip, and he picked up Greater Sage-Grouse the day after we officially ended our tour. When we last spoke, he had plans to go after the Gunnison Sage-Grouse and White-tailed Ptarmigan (our most frustrating miss), as well as the Black Rosy-Finch in Utah, the following week. I managed to add 54 new birds to my life list and cranked my Colorado state list up to 228 -- a bit shy of the 2001 ABA threshold of 236, but a number with which I am quite happy nonetheless.
Highlights of the trip included both Prairie Chickens, two White-eyed Vireos (apparently on breeding territory) at the Carrizo Picnic Area in Commanche National Grasslands, N. Cardinal and Rose-breasted Grosbeak at Lamar Community College, an adult female Mountain Plover with chick along CR-14 east of Briggsdale, Worm-eating Warbler and Song Sparrow at Muir Springs Park in Ft. Morgan (note: due to a rather hostile sign across the closed entrance to this members-only park, we were forced to bird from the gate), Short-billed Dowitchers at Jumbo and Lower Queens Reservoirs, Least Sandpiper at Jumbo, a female American Redstart at the Julesburg Wayside Park, Bald Eagle at Prewitt Reservoir, and Osprey in a field between the two Queens Reservoirs near Lamar. We also had terrific views of six owl species, my favorites being a Flammulated in the Wet Mountains, and a Boreal on Grand Mesa.
Notable misses included Ovenbird at Rye Mountain Park; Gray Catbird; Band-tailed Pigeon; Blue Grouse; Greater Sage-Grouse (we even slept in the car at one of the Craig leks and drove all over the Craig and North Park areas to no avail -- Peter later found one in North Park); Williamson's Sapsucker; N. Pygmy, Saw-whet, E. Screech and Spotted Owls; Rufous-crowned Sparrow; Red-bellied Woodpecker and Eastern Bluebird east of Bonny Lake SP; Evening Grosbeak, and that darned Ptarmigan, which we tried for along Trail Ridge Road on four separate occasions! Due to time constraints and/or the low-percentage chance of finding them, we didn't try for Sharp-tailed Grouse, Black Swift, Purple Martin, and a few others.
Following is a list of all species seen during our June 2-9, 2001 trip:
American White Pelican
Great Blue Heron
Great Horned Owl
Northern Rough-winged Swallow
Black-throated Gray Warbler
Final note: any geographical inaccuracies in this report are my own, as I wrote this report without the benefit of the Holt guide or the Colorado road maps, which are still with Peter in Colorado.