Monday, November 15, 2010

"Walking the Ridge" Ptarmigan at Loveland Pass

November 12, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Three of us decided to conduct the 2nd annual "Walk the Ridge" (actually Continental Divide) between Loveland Pass and Interstate 70. It really the 7th attempt, last year was the first time we succeeded.

The route is trick if you want to do it when there is snow on the ground (better to see White-tailed Ptarmigan tracks). Too much snow, the route is dangerous and slippery. Not enough snow and the high winds blow away any chance of seeing ptarmigan tracks.

Conditions were perfect today. Just enough fresh snow for ptarmigan to leave tracks. Besides the four White-tailed Ptarmigan, Howard and I found yesterday, we added another seven ptarmigan to our day list!

Note: This is a strenuous hike, while only 3.9 miles in length, there is much elevation gain and of course loss. We also carry avalanche beacons, although they were not needed today. Every precaution should be taken by hikers attempting this. Do not attempt under "avalanche" conditions. Be aware!

Afterwards, to "wind down" our legs, Gary Weston and I hiked the South Platte River from 88th avenue and Colorado Blvd to Hwy 224 (west side) and back (along the east side).

The male Barrow's Goldeneye (Michaels, 11/8) was about 20 yards south of the green/white tower (about 0.4 miles south of 88th avenue). Later we would relocate the duck on Tani Reservoir.

Heading for home, we scoped Dahlia Lake. A Long-tailed Duck was found on the north end (we parked at the small "driveway" gate pointed toward the lake.

Many Great-tailed Grackles and Eurasian Collared-Doves can still be seen at the Picadilly Tree Nursery feedlot (Adams).

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