Sunday, February 13, 2011

Trip Into the Foothills and Mountains

February 12, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Luis Lindgren and I headed up into the foothills in search of some mountain birds. We got out of Denver about two hours before sunrise (6:58 am) in order to beat skiers into the mountains.

Our first detour was to the top of Loveland Pass where we celebrated sunrise! No skiers yet, especially on weekends they flood the summit to avoid paying lift ticket prices at Loveland Ski Basin and Keystone. Finding Ptarmigan with a horde of people around, not so successful.

When we looked over the western side of the Summit, Luis picked out two Ptarmigan walking around the scarce evergreens just below the road! Sometimes an easy search is a welcomed exercise from the days when I have spent 3-4 hours trying to find a White-tailed Ptarmigan up there!

We proceeded to Summit County and got our fill of mountain birds. Fourteen Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit County).

Luis had to catch a plane at DIA and we rushed back to Denver.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove back to Morrison for a late lunch (Morrison Inn, great Mexican Food). Afterwards we spent an hour watching the feeders behind the Red Rocks Park Trading Post. Unfortunately, a wedding photographer used the steps near the feeder as a background for almost 45 minutes.

We could see 90+ Rosy Finches waiting on the cliffs to the west for the people to leave the feeder area. As soon as the photographer and subjects left, the 93 Rosy Finches came down to eat. Three species were represented with at least 2 Black Rosy Finches among the flock.

Two White-throated Sparrows, the Harris's Sparrow and Golden-crowned Sparrow also hopped out of the bushes when the photographer left. Unfortunately, the Curve-billed Thrasher never appeared.

In my experience, the House Sparrows, which are quite jumpy and scare the other birds, depart around 4:00 to 4:15 pm. The wild birds than appear to be more comfortable in visiting below the feeder. However, we left at 3:20 pm and missed that tonight.

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