Saturday, August 3, 2013

San Luis Valley to the San Juan Mountains

July 17-20, 2013

Wednesday we rested most of the morning.  I did some research for future articles for "Colorado Field Notes" (at the newspaper office and the library).

We headed to Alamosa in the afternoon, looked briefly for Sage Sparrows around Fort Garland (Costilla County) and continued to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.

A stop at Zapata Falls found one Black Swift (Alamosa).

No owls were found after dark at the National Park.  Raven flying near the entrance could have been a Chihuahuan Raven; we could not confirm it.

Thursday morning we searched for thrashers (Bendire's Thrasher?) around Forest Roads 660/659 before temperatures rose; without success.  We did find Sage Thrashers and one Curve-billed Thrasher.

A Black Swift was found on the west side of Wolf Creek Pass (Mineral).  Owling was a bust.  We passed much superb habitat for owls, I just have not enjoyed much success there.  We rested in Lake City for the night.

The next two days we based out of Lake City (Hinsdale County).  Birding was not as successful as hoped.  I should mention that a high clearance vehicle is a must for this trip.  On and off rains made the already bad roads quite a challenge at times.

Friday: Cinnamon Pass Road was our challenge today.  Nothing interesting was at Lake San Christobal (Hinsdale).  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at the Burrows Park Town Site (Hinsdale).

Mill Creek and Williams Creek Campgrounds added little to our trip list.

Once over Cinnamon Pass we entered San Juan County.  However, no uncommon birds were found.  We returned to Lake City in the late afternoon.  Stopping and playing various owl recordings did not find a one (again thunderstorms may have influenced our success).

Early Saturday morning we drove up Slumgullion Pass (Hinsdale).  Things got interesting when we heard two Boreal Owls.  Long after sunrise, we ran into two small flocks of White-winged Crossbills (4 and 3 birds).

Twice in the past ten years we had also added a Long-eared Owl (not this trip).

Back in Lake City (Hinsdale) the highlight of the day as we found a Rose-breasted Grosbeak coming to a feeder!

We skipped owling tonight and rested!

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