Monday, July 14, 2014

July 13 (Day 194) - 500-species plateau reached!

Today was the first leg of the retooled route that would take me west through Northern Colorado instead of Southern Wyoming. This route would be more bike friendly, and if today is any indication, be much birdier than the route that paralleled I-80 through Wyoming. There also are any number of spots along my Northern Colorado route where I can try for Greater sage-grouse and Sharp-tailed grouse, two species that are sure to give me headaches for at least a few days each. Today was the first of those headaches as I searched unsuccessfully for Sage-grouse this afternoon.

66 miles to from Laramie, WY to Walden, CO
plus 14 around Arapahoe NWR this evening = 80 miles total

Hosts Don and George from Laramie - 
Messi jersey did not do the trick today!

The actual ride today was very pleasant. The first 30 miles or so were very flat as I cruised across the valley floor where Laramie is located. There was a moderate climb midway, and then some rolling up and down until I reached Walden. I was able to cover these 66 miles in exactly 5 hours; This put me into town in time to find a TV and to convince the bar staff to show the World Cup final instead of Nascar (barf). I spent the middle part of the day anchored to the TV hoping that Germany would somehow find a way to squeak by Argentina. I had to wait until the very end of added extra time, but a gorgeous goal by Germany sealed its World Cup triumph and avoided the dreaded and dreadful penalty kicks. My personal feeling is that they should run over time like the NHL: play until someone scores and then that's it (i.e. golden goal). If players don't want to play for 5 hours, then score a damn goal earlier in the game! Deciding these games on penalties is criminal. Thankfully we avoid this today.

Ride out of Laramie

Mid-morning climb!

After the soccer, I headed out to the Arapaho NWR to look for Sage-grouse. There is a very nice and lightly used auto loop through a portion of the refuge. This is where I focused my efforts this afternoon. I was pleasantly surprised with the amount of birdlife I found this late afternoon and evening. On my way into the refuge I had an adult Bald eagle on one side of the road at the same time I had an adult Golden eagles on the other. It was really cool. There were any number of large ponds on the auto loop, and these held all sorts of birds. American Avocet, Killdeer, Wilson's Phalarope, Willet, Green-winged teal, American Wigeon, Redhead, Lesser scaup, Ruddy duck, Northern shoveler, Gadwall, Cinnamon teal, Northern Pintail, Black-crowned night-heron, and American white pelican were all observed along my route. I also had a Peregrine falcon eating a female Lesser Scaup, lots of sage thrashers, and several Vesper sparrows. Blackbirds were also well represented as Red-winged, Brewer's, and Yellow-headed constantly buzzed about. It was a really nice afternoon of birding since their were so many birds! I was able to add Eared grebe for year bird #499 right as I arrived, and I added California gull for #500 right as I left. These were "free" birds that I knew I would find at some point. It did feel good to final get to 500, but I am so focused on Sage-grouse right now that I am not going to spend too much time celebrating this very significant milestone. There are always more birds to find!

Eared grebe #499

Eared grebe

California gull #500! Woo hoo!

American avocet chick

Adult American avocet

I scared the Peregrine off this Scaup kill. It was
right in the middle of the auto loop road.

Arapaho NWR

Tomorrow I will spend the morning searching the Walden area for Sage-grouse. Right now the plan is to move to Steamboat Springs in the afternoon, but I have to see what happens in the morning with the grouse before I make a final decision.

Sonia will meet me tomorrow so stay tuned for more from her. It will be great to have her around the next few days. She really helps to keep my spirits up when they might otherwise sag.


  1. Congratulations Dorian! 500 is an awesome number. You should be doing a little jig after that accomplishment.

  2. If you're not celebrating #500 yet, we'll do it for you. Congratulations on reaching this milestone! I've been following your blog since Day 1 and it's been such an amazing read, for the birds as well as for all your other stories. You inspired me to go out birding by bike more often this year than I did last year. Your photos also encouraged me to upgrade to a new camera (Canon 70D) and lens (Canon 400mm f/5.6), which I've been enjoying tremendously for a few weeks now.

    Keep up the excellent work with the blog and good luck finding the two species of grouse in the next few days!

  3. Congratulations on your 500th!
    I really enjoy your blog.

    2 questions for you if you'd like in further posts :

    1- Now that you are at 500, at how many do you think you will end the year ?

    2- I read you'll bird only by foot, bicycle or kayak. Have you considered sailing boats (propelled by winds) to add some offshore birds ?
    Ex: Carrera Sailing in Monterey Bay, CA

    Cheers !