Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Grouse Trip Jackson, Grand and Summit Counties

Rebecca Kosten, transcript from Telephone Calls

April 8, 2013

Richard Stevens and all parked at the Jackson County Greater Sage-Grouse Lek along CR 26 just before sunrise.  Sixty plus males and ten plus females wandered around the lek at 6:30 am.  Suddenly, they all took off.  A Golden Eagle flew over and the Greater Sage-Grouse scattered.

On the drive to Loveland Pass in Clear Creek County, another three Greater Sage-Grouse were seen display along Highway 125 at mile marker 43.

An American Dipper sang at the bridge at mile marker 12, highway 125.

Several dozen Barrow's Goldeneyes and dozens of Common Goldeneyes swam around at Windy Gap Reservoir, Grand County.

They arrived at Loveland Pass around noon.  Described by Richard as one of his most strenuous ordeals in finding White-tailed Ptarmigan then started.  They stopped at each of the pullovers south of Loveland Pass along Highway 6.  No Ptarmigan could be found.  None was found at either side of the Summit also.

At 2:00 pm, winds were measured at 38 mph with gusts to 51 mph.  The predicted snowstorm that was to hit Denver was approaching.  They decided to make one last stop at the first pullover north of the Summit.  Again, no Ptarmigan was found.

Our hearty group of birders, instead of continuing to Denver instead turned around and went back to the Summit.  The decision at 4:00 pm was to stay until dark.  There were after all Ptarmigan somewhere up there?

Returning to each pullover on the south side of Loveland Pass, each evergreen tree and rock was examined several times by four birders.  Still no Ptarmigan appeared.

Amazingly, the winds had died down to a slow? 15-20 mph back at the Summit at 5:30 pm.  Does this story end well for our determined Birders?  It was not looking good.

While the three California Birders again scoped the eastern side, Richard walked around the hill at the western side.  Again scoping each tree and rock was not successful.

While standing on the narrow, icy trail, six snowboarders came by and squeezed past Richard who was not a little desperate.

Richard decided to offer twenty dollars to them if they could find a Ptarmigan that our worn down group could see.  The youths were not impressed and about to start down the mountain.  Richard then offered fifty dollars to the group.  The latest offer perked their interest.

One of the girls of the group started down the mountain.  Not twenty yards below the trail, two Ptarmigan jumped up from below the ledge that could not be seen from the trail.

One of the young males walked down and watched the White-tailed Ptarmigan while Richard ran back to inform the rest of his group.

They returned to watch a pair of Ptarmigan for the next half hour.  The six teenagers gained fifty dollars, some information on the plumages of Ptarmigan and a story about this four nutty old men looking for a white bird on snow!

1 comment:

Birder Rich said...

On a sad note, just twelve days later on 4/20, these same six snowboarders were trapped in an avalanche on Loveland Pass. Five of them did not survive. Rest in peace! Richard Stevens