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28 July to 8 August 1992

Revised 1st September 1997.

My second trip to the States. I arrived at Denver on 28th only to discover that my part of luggage hadn't. I had intended to camp, but ended out having to stay in a motel in Fort Collins (opposite the Holiday Inn) for three days (28th to 31st July) while I waited for the relevant items to arrive. Fortunately, I had my telescope (though not the tripod) since I spent the second day at the Pawnee National Grasslands. My baggage arrived and I moved on 31st to a campsite just outside Estes Park (the national park campsite was full), On 1st August I drove through the park to Copper Mountain via Hot Sulfur Springs. The meeting finished on 6th August, and I moved to a camp site at Empire. From there I visited Mount Evans and Granby Lake, Arapaho. On the 8th I drove back to Denver finishing my trip by taking the loop round the Rocky Mountain Arsenal, as recommended in Lane and Holt where I finally caught up with a Burrowing Owl. There are a lot of countries where a foreigner "kerb crawling" round the perifery of a major military base with powerful optics would attract a lot of attention. Note that CAPITALS are used for a species seen only at that locality, and the species order used in the site lists and systematic list follows that favoured (for some obscure reason) by the National Geogrpahic Guide (see literature).

29th to 31st July - Fort Collins area.

Fort Collins is on the border between the prairie and foothills to the Rockies. It is a pleasant College Town, nestling under the foothills, and there are parks, lakes, riverine forest, prairie and stony hillsides. I started by visiting a park by the Poudre River in Fort Collins at the joggers hour. After breakfast I followed a recommended car birding tour from Fort Collins (the "Fort Collins Loop" in Lane and Holt), starting at the Colorado State University "Northern Colorado Nature Reserve". The reserve itself was a wonderful wilderness of riverine forest on the , lots of big fish disurbing the surface. Maybe it was so sluggish here (and low) that there wasn't enough oxygen in the water. There was an osprey release project. The Americans do not have the same scruples about reintroductions of exterminated wildlife as the Danes. The tour continued passed the one of the oldest paleface buildings in the state: a scruffy log cabin from 1864. I didn't even take photo. I spent a lot of time at various prarie dog towns scanning unsuccessfully for Burrowing Owls. Lots of Swainson's Hawks though. The tour finished up at the Horseshoe reservoir looking over Fort Collins. Cacti among the other bushes. This yielded nearly 60 species. I revisited several of the sites during the 60h I spent in Fort Collins, so the list includes species seen during the whole period.

WESTERN GREBE (Timnath Reservoir), AMERICAN WHITE PELICAN (saw several in the area, including several while driving out of Fort Collins on my way to Pawnee) , Double-crested Cormorant, Great Blue Heron, MUTE SWAN (introduced?), Canada Goose, Mallard, GADWALL, SHOVELER, Killdeer, Franklin's Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, American Kestrel, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, BELTED KINGFISHER, Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, Downy Woodpecker, Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Cassin's Kingbird, Violet-green Swallow, Sand Martin, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Swallow, Blue Jay, Magpie, American Crow, Black-capped Chickadee, HOUSE WREN, Marsh Wren, American Robin, Starling, Red-eyed Vireo, Common Yellowthroat, INDIGO BUNTING, LAZULI BUNTING, Eastern (Rufous-sided) Towhee, Song Sparrow, LARK SPARROW, Western Meadowlark, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Red-winged Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Common Grackle, House Sparrow, Pine Siskin, American Goldfinch, House Finch

30th July - Pawnee National Grasslands

The following day I visited the Pawnee National Grasslands, some 50 miles east. I followed the tour suggested by Lenty, later following Lane and Holt. The landscape is largely open prairie - i.e. rough grassland. This was also very rich: 44 spp. including Furruginous Hawk, pearched on a post next to the road looking like an overgrown peregrine. Then Prairie Falcon, which looks like a bleached peregrine with dark armpits. Dipped on mountain plover.

Killdeer, Red-tailed Hawk, Swainson's Hawk, FERRUGINOUS HAWK, American Kestrel, Prairie Falcon, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, SHORE (HORNED) LARK, Cliff Swallow, Swallow, Mountain Bluebird, Townsend's Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, Loggerhead Shrike, Starling, CASSIN'S SPARROW, CHESTNUT-COLLARED LONGSPUR, MCCOWN'S LONGSPUR, LARK BUNTING, BROWN-HEADED COWBIRD

31st July to 1st August - Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park.

I left Fort Collins after an early morning trip at the reservoir and drove to Estes Park and the Rocky Mountain National Park with a detour through Buckhorn Creek. The campsite there was unfortunately full and I did not have the presence of mind to get a trekking permit (I had all the appropriate gear with me and the weather was lovely). I drove back out of the park to a public campsite on the Boulder Road, wasting a lot of time, then back to trail lakes in Horsehoe Park. In 1982 the dam broke at Lawn Lake spewing debris down into the valley creating an alluvial fan and a lot of mess along the way. Marvellous walk up through the pines from a crowded car park at the bottom where a chipmunk was scrounging. Juncos and flycatchers in the trees. Lots of squirrels. When I returned to the bottom, my first Coyote crossed the road behind me giving a real thrill. It then howled up in the trees. The big-horn sheep reminded mostly of roe deer with curly horns. A mountain blubird at the bottom of the valley brightened the scene.

I arose at the crack of dawn to drive across the National Park to Copper Mountain. It took me about 4h to drive over, stopping at virtually every pull-off to enjoy the spectacular view and wildlife. Saw Pica, Beaver, Coyote hunting chipmunks in the rocks near the top and "Elk" (red deer). The plants were marvellous, with Silene acaulis reminding of the Pyrenees, Tronden and Cairngorms. There is a nature trail at 3752m. The trees really do give up the ghost at this kind of altitude. Clark's Nutcrackers are frequent at the pull-offs near here. On the way down, I stopped at Poudre Lake and the Far View Curve. The landscape to the west of the Rockies was much drier than in the mountains, with sage brush. I stopped near Lake Granby, and on the Colorado River near Hot Sulphur Springs.

Double-crested Cormorant, Canada Goose, Mallard, Goosander (=Common Merganser), Killdeer, California Gull, Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Rock Dove, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, WHITE-THROATED SWIFT (Near Granby/Hot Sulphus Springs), Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, LEWIS'S WOODPECKER (Buckhorn Creek), YELLOW-BELLIED SAPSUCKER (Poudre Lake), Hairy Woodpecker, Eastern Kingbird, Western Kingbird, Violet-green Swallow, Sand Martin, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Swallow, Blue Jay, Steller's Jay, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Marsh Wren, Rock Wren, Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, American Pipit, American Dipper, Starling, MACGILLIVRAY'S WARBLER, GREEN-TAILED TOWHEE (both near Hot Sulphus Springs), Eastern (Rufous-sided) Towhee, Song Sparrow, Grey-headed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Western Meadowlark, Brewer's Blackbird, House Sparrow, Pine Siskin, House Finch

1 to 6/8-93. Based at Copper Mountain.

During the week of the meeting, I had several afternoon walks with other participants in the Copper Mountain area. These included a trip to the Searle pass through alpine meadows full of Blue Columbines (Aquilegia coerulea) and Giant red paintbrush (Castilleja miniata). Lots of other lovel and unidentified flowers. Picas in the rocks just below the pass. Another trip was up Birdseye Gulch (north of Leadville). We also had an afternoon white water rafting on the Arkansas River, from near Buena Vista. The best feature of Copper Mountain itself was the Hummingbird feeders.

California Gull, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, Goshawk, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, RUFOUS HUMMINGBIRD, Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, HAMMOND'S FLYCATCHER, PACIFIC-SLOPE (WESTERN) FLYCATCHER, Violet-green Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Cliff Swallow, Steller's Jay, Gray Jay, Common Raven, Mountain Chickadee, Townsend's Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, American Dipper, CEDAR WAXWING (Arkansas River), Starling, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Grey-headed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Brewer's Blackbird, Pine Siskin, Common (Red) Crossbill

6 to 8th August - Empire

After the meeting I camped at Empire for two days. I took trips to Berhoud Falls and Pass on the 6th, where I watched a Marmot. 7/8-93 Mount Evans (14264 ft). Arose at some ungodly hour (like 4 am) and drove up to the top of Mount Evans. Saw a Prairie Falcon just below the lake (called Summit Lake). Rosy finch in the rocks. Both Bighorn Sheep and Goats. Marvellous place. Lots of people drove up to the top, some even left their cars for 2 minutes. The occasional hardy soul even walking up to the summit. But not very many. There was even a couple of people running up to the summit.

Red-tailed Hawk, American Kestrel, Prairie Falcon, Broad-tailed Hummingbird,Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker, Violet-green Swallow, Sand Martin, Cliff Swallow, Steller's Jay, Gray Jay, Clark's Nutcracker, Magpie, Common Raven, Black-capped Chickadee, Mountain Chickadee, White-breasted Nuthatch, Pygmy Nuthatch, Townsend's Solitaire, Hermit Thrush, American Robin, American Pipit, Yellow-rumped Warbler, White-crowned Sparrow, BLACK ROSY-FINCH, CASSIN'S FINCH (top of Berhoud Pass)

7th August - Granby Lake.
There I saw a moose in the swamp (at Monarch Lake) and talked to the volunteer wardens, a retired couple who drove up from Texas every summer with their trailer. They told me a lot about the local wildlife but hadn't noticed the ospreys breeding 2 Km from them, on the just opposite the main road on Arapho Bay (Lake Grandby). Also saw an American Robin catch and kill a slowworm (legless lizard). I arose early on the 8th - mid-morning flight and drove straight to Denver.

Canada Goose, Goosander (=Common Merganser), SPOTTED SANDPIPER, Ring-billed Gull, California Gull, Turkey Vulture, Red-tailed Hawk, OSPREY, American Kestrel, Mourning Dove, Common Nighthawk, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, Violet-green Swallow, Northern Rough-winged Swallow, Swallow, Steller's Jay, Magpie, American Crow, Common Raven, Mountain Bluebird, American Robin, PHILADELPHIA VIREO, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Grey-headed Junco, White-crowned Sparrow, Yellow-headed Blackbird, Brewer's Blackbird, Common Grackle, Pine Siskin,



I used the free state tourist map which I had obtained (along with a glossy tourist brochure of the state) several months in advance by writing to the state toursit board. They also provided the official brochure for the Rocky Mountains National Park which was more than adequate for my needs. I subsequently obtained a couple of maps of the Copper Mountain area ("Breckenridge South" #109 and Vail, Frisco, Dillon" #108 - published by Trails Illustrated PO Box 3610, Evergreen, Colorado) and the offical "White River" and "Arapho and Roosevelt" National Forest tourist maps at a climbers shop in Fort Collins. These were adequate for my purposes.


Bundey, Greg (1992) Western Bird Songs, Houghton Miflin (0 395 51745 1) is very useful, especially for Empidonax flycatchers.

Systematic list

English name Latin name Date and location of first sighting
Western Grebe Aechmophorus occidentalis 29/7-93 Fort Collins
American White Pelican Pelecanus erythrorhynchos 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Double-crested Cormorant Phalacrocorax auritus 28/7-93 Denver
Great Blue Heron Ardea herodias 28/7-93 Denver
Mute Swan Cygnus olor 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Canada Goose Branta canadensis 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos 28/7-93 Denver
Gadwall Anas strepera 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Shoveler Anas clypeata 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Goosander Mergus merganser 1/8-93 Rocky Mountain
Killdeer Charadrius vociferus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Spotted Sandpiper Actitis (Tringa) macularia 7/8-93 Granby Lk, Arapaho
Franklin's Gull Larus pipixican 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Ring-billed Gull Larus delawarensis 28/7-93 Denver
California Gull Larus californicus 31/7-93 nr. Estes Park
Turkey Vulture Cathartes aura 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Red-tailed Hawk Buteo jamaicensis 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Swainson's Hawk Buteo swainsoni 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Ferruginous Hawk Buteo regalis 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Goshawk Accipiter gentilis 6/8-93 Climax
Osprey Pandion haliaetus 7/8-93 Granby Lk, Arapaho
American Kestrel Falco sparverius 28/7-93 Denver
Prairie Falcon Falco mexicanus 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Rock Dove Columba livia 28/7-93 Denver
Mourning Dove Zenaida macroura 28/7-93 Denver
Burrowing Owl Athene (Speotyto) cunicularia 8/7-93 Denver
Common Nighthawk Chordeiles minor 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Chimney Swift Chaetura pelagica 28/7-93 Longmount
White-throated Swift Aeronautes saxatalis 1/8-92 Hot Sulfur Springs
Broad-tailed Hummingbird Selasphorus platycercus 1/8-93 Copper Mountain
Rufous Hummingbird Selasphorus rufus 6/8-93 Copper Mountain
Belted Kingfisher Megaceryle alcyon 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Northern (Red-shafted) Flicker Colaptes auratus 28/7-93 Denver
Lewis's Woodpecker Melanerpes lewis 30/7-3 Buckthorne Creek
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker Sphyrapicus varius 1/8-93 Poudre Lake, Rocky Mn.
Downy Woodpecker Picoides pubescens 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Hairy Woodpecker Picoides villosus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Eastern Kingbird Tyrannus tyrannus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Western Kingbird Tyrannus verticalis 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Cassin's Kingbird Tyrannus vociferans 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Hammond's Flycatcher Empidonax hammondii 31/7-93 Horseshoe Pk
Pacific-slope (Western) Flycatcher Empidonax difficilis 2/8-93 Copper Mountain
Shore (Horned) Lark Eremophila alpestris 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Violet-green Swallow Tachycineta thalassina 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Sand Martin Riparia riparia 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Northern Rough-winged Swallow Stelgidopteryx serripennis 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Cliff Swallow Hirundo pyrrhonota 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Swallow Hirundo rustica 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Blue Jay Cyanocitta cristata 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Steller's Jay Cyanocitta stelleri 31/7-93 Estes Park
Gray Jay Perisoreus canadensis 1/8-93 Rocky Mountain
Clark's Nutcracker Nucifraga columbiana 31/7-93 nr. Estes Park
Magpie Pica pica 28/7-93 Denver
American Crow Corvus brachyrhynchos 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Common Raven Corvus corax 31/7-93 nr. Estes Park
Black-capped Chickadee Parus atricapillus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Mountain Chickadee Parus gambeli 31/7-93 nr. Estes Park
White-breasted Nuthatch Sitta carolinensis 31/7-93 Horseshoe Pk
Pygmy Nuthatch Sitta pygmaea 31/7-93 Horseshoe Pk
House Wren Troglodytes aedon 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Marsh Wren Cistothorus palustris 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Rock Wren Salipinctes obsoletus 30/7-3 Buckthorne Creek
Mountain Bluebird Sialia currucoides 31/7-93 Horseshoe Pk
Townsend's Solitaire Myadestes townsendi 6/8-93 Copper Mountain
Hermit Thrush Catharus guttatus 6/8-93 Copper Mountain
American Robin Turdus migratorius 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Loggerhead Shrike Lanius ludovicianus 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
American Pipit Anthus rubescens 29/7-93 Fort Collins
American Dipper Cinclus mexicanus 31/7-93 Horseshoe Pk
Cedar Waxwing Bombycilla cedrorum 5/8-93 Arkansas Rv., Buena Vista
Starling Sturnus vulgaris 28/7-93 Denver
Red-eyed Vireo Vireo olivaceus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Philadelphia Vireo Vireo philadelphicus 7/8-93 Granby Lk, Arapaho
Yellow-rumped Warbler Dendroica coronata 5/8-93 Copper Mountain
Yellow Warbler Dendroica petechia 5/8-93 Copper Mountain
MacGillivray's Warbler Oporornis (Geothiypsis) tolmiei 1/8-92 Hot Sulfur Springs
Common Yellowthroat Geothlypis trichas 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Indigo Bunting Passerina cyanea 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Lazuli Bunting Passerina amoena 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Green-tailed Towhee Piplio chlorurus 1/8-93 nr. Parshall
Eastern (Rufous-sided) Towhee Piplio erythrophalmus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Song Sparrow Melospiza melodia 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Lark Sparrow Chondestes grammacus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Cassin's Sparrow Aimophila cassinii 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Grey-headed Junco Junco caniceps 31/7-93 Horseshoe Pk
White-crowned Sparrow Zonotrichia albicollis (leucophrys) 31/7-93 Horseshoe Pk
Chestnut-collared Longspur Calcarius ornatus 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
McCown's Longspur Calcarius mccownii 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Lark Bunting Calamospiza melanocorys 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass
Western Meadowlark Sturnella neglecta 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Yellow-headed Blackbird Xanthocephalus xanthocephalus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Red-winged Blackbird Agelaius phoeniceus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Brewer's Blackbird Euphagus cyanocephalus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Brown-headed Cowbird Molothrus ater 30/7-93 Pawnee Natl. Grass.
Common Grackle Quiscalus quiscula 29/7-93 Fort Collins
House Sparrow Passer domesticus 28/7-93 Denver
Pine Siskin Carduelis pinus 29/7-93 Fort Collins
American Goldfinch Carduelis tristis 29/7-93 Fort Collins
Common (Red) Crossbill Loxia curvirostra 2/8-93 Copper Mountain
Black Rosy-Finch Leucosticte atrata 7/8-93 Mount Evans
Cassin's Finch Carpodacus cassinii 7/8-93 Berthoud Pass
House Finch Carpodacus mexicanus 29/7-93 Fort Collins

David B. Collinge


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