Tuesday, June 17, 2014

June 16 (Day 167) - Easy day to Montrose, more tough riding ahead, great pains for new birds

Today was basically the second half of what I had originally planned for yesterday. Since finding the Black swift took all afternoon and evening yesterday, I was unable to make it to Montrose for the night. This mean that today's leftover ride was very, very short and easy. As a result of this, I rode exceptionally slowly to listen for birds along the road. The habitats would change as I dropped elevation, so I thought that I might find birds as varied as Red-breasted nuthatch, MacGillivray's warbler, Willow flycatcher, and Gray flycatcher. The nuthatch was the only bird with which I connected today (#480), but it was a really nice ride nonetheless. After I dropped out of Ouray, I spent most of the day cruising down this lush valley as I left the mountains behind me to the south. The winds really built over the course of the day, and by 2pm they were blowing at a steady 25-30 MPH and gusting to upwards of 50. Needless to say, it was a good afternoon to be off the roads.

Tomorrow is also going to be fairly windy, but I think I have formulated a decent plan for the day. I am going to take a day trip to the Black Canyon of the Gunnison National Park with hopes of finding Dusky grouse. There is supposed to be a healthy population of the birds in the park, so I should have a good crack at ticking this bird. It will be a bit of a long day trip since the park is 15 miles away and will required 2,500' of climbing to reach it. The winds are going to pick up in the afternoon so the ride back to Montrose could be challenging. 

The ride that is scheduled for Wednesday is going to be the toughest of the year so far. On the big climb to Silverton, CO, I climbed 5,600 feet and rode 37 miles. The ride from Montrose to Gunnison on Wednesday will require exactly the same amount of climbing, over the first 35 miles, but will then require an additional 30 miles of flat riding beyond that. There is hopefully going to be a stiff west wind on Wednesday. This should aid me on the 30 flat miles once I finish the climbing. The wind tomorrow is going to be from the south and would not aid me at all if I were to ride to Gunnison tomorrow instead of Wednesday.

I am at the point now where I need to take great pains to find every single possible species. Almost all of 32 bird species I want to find between now and early September will require dedicated rides and searches. There are very few "free" species remaining - at least until I get to California. Earlier in the year, I valued time more than birds. This is why I left High Island a few days early event though I was still missing a few birds. Now that I have found so many birds and am at least 2 weeks ahead of schedule, I really need to slow down and put in the time to find what birds remain. I will be spending a disproportionately large amount of time these next few months looking for gamebirds (grouse, quail etc). Gamebirds are particularly hard to find since you literally need to step on them to see them. You need to cover a lot of appropriate habitat to find these birds. Hawks, swifts, and water birds can be seen from hundreds of yards away. You can stand in one spot and let the birds come to you. Grouse and high elevation birds don't work that way; You need to go to them. Here is a list of the birds I want to find in before I get to Northern California in early September. Some of these might not be possible. For example, Black rosy-finch would required a long, hard few days of riding into Utah to get it and only it. Gray-crowned rosy-finch is also going to be extreme problematic. If I could get 29 out of 32, I would be ecstatic. I just don't know if this is even possible, but we'll find out! The 18 bold species are birds that I will make an effort to find in Colorado in the next 2-3 weeks. The other species will be potentially added in WY, ID, OR and maybe UT. If I miss some birds in OR (i.e. Mountain Quail), I can get them in northern CA. 

Trumpeter swan - WY
Chukar - WY, ID, OR
Ring-necked pheasant
Mountain quail - OR
Gray partridge - WY, ID, OR
White-tailed ptarmigan
Ruffed grouse - WY, ID
Sooty grouse - OR
Dusky grouse
Sharp-tailed grouse - this is a reach unless I can get to Nebraska - Could also get GP Chicken there
Greater sage-grouse WY, ID, OR
Gunnison sage-grouse
Ferruginous hawk
Mountain plover
Flammulated owl
Great gray owl - WY
Rufous hummingbird
Calliope hummingbird
Williamson’s sapsucker
Black-backed woodpecker - OR
Willow flycatcher
Gray flycatcher
Clark’s nutcracker
Bank swallow
Varied thrush - OR
Chestnut-collared longspur
McCown’s longspur
MacGilivray’s warbler
Sagebrush sparrow - WY, ID, OR, could get lucky and find in CO
Gray-crowned rosy-finch - This is incredibly unlikely anywhere I will be
Brown-capped rosy-finch
Black rosy-finch - UT (I know I could get in NM in winter, but that's a 600 mile detour)

1 comment:

  1. We just got back from birding Colorado May16-18th and saw some of your BOLD needed birds. The Gunnison Sage-Grouse was at the Waunita Lek, north of SR887. At the viewing area, around 6-7am, looking at the farthest foothills northeast, or your 2 o'clock if your are looking up the road. A scope was needed, with about 2-5 males displaying. The White-Tailed Ptarmigan was at Loveland Pass off Route 6. First rock group right off the parking lot looking up the pass/trail. Ferruginous Hawk, no problem. MacGilivrays Warbler at Crow Valley CampGround. And McCowns Longspur on Pawnee grassland road to nowhere. Check out my blog post for details. http://notimelefttogambill.blogspot.com/2014/06/colorado-jackpot-12-lifers-added.html Good luck and keep ticking!!