Tuesday, July 1, 2014

June 30 (Day 181) - Neighborhood birding, Bank swallow, Ideas for WY, UT, ID

OK, I have to keep this quick tonight. I was spent the morning birding around Louisville, CO. It was a very relaxing ride on which I found quite a few nice birds: Yellow-headed blackbird, Pied-billed grebes with chicks, Wood duck, Swainson's hawk, Blue Jay, Bullock's oriole, American white pelican, and American avocet with chicks. The main attraction of the day though was swallows. I was able to sift through decent numbers of Barn, Cliff, and Tree to find at least a pair of Bank swallows for year bird #490. Needless to say, I did not even attempt to photograph these small but fast fliers. 

Most of the afternoon was spent trying to sort out how things are going to go in the next 2-3 weeks. Right now this is what I am thinking. Let's start with the birds that are left from the summer mountain section of the trip.

Flammulated owl - Going owling in Boulder tomorrow night with a local expert

McCown's longspur - Pawnee NG Thus-Sat (if necessary)
Chestnut-collared longspur - Pawnee NG Thus-Sat (if necessary)
Mountain plover - Pawnee NG Thus-Sat (if necessary)
Ferruginous hawk - Pawnee NG Thus-Sat (if necessary) - more chances for this elsewhere anyway
Ring-necked pheassant - Pawnee NG Thus-Sat (if necessary) - more chances for this elsewhere anyway

Trumpeter swan - Jackson/Tetons Wyoming
Chukar - Antelope Island near Salt Lake, could get along road as well
Gray partridge - Northern Utah, Southern ID - need specific spots
Ruffed grouse - I have good leads on this in ID, but could also get near Tetons
Dusky grouse - Maybe in Tetons, do I take 2 days to go up to Cub Lake in RMNP to hunt for this?
Sooty grouse - Oregon, could also get in northern Cali
Sharp-tailed grouse - very, very unlikely unless I go much further east than I had planned
Greater sage-grouse - Roadside somewhere, would really love to get a consistent spot for this on my route
Great gray owlJackson/Tetons Wyoming
Black-backed woodpeckerJackson/Tetons Wyoming, OR as well
Rufous hummingbird - will get at a feeder somewhere
Calliope hummingbird - will get at a feeder somewhere
Varied thrush - Oregon, could also get in northern Cali
Sagebrush sparrow - will get somewhere along the road
Gray-crowned rosy-finch - this would be a miracle unless I could get into Washington (Mt Rainier e.g.)

Black rosy-finch - Utah near Mirror Lake - this is my only real shot at this bird, hence the loop into UT (I do not want to think about Sandia Crest unless I miss the bird during the summer)

A loop like this would give me good shots at most of these birds. There are 2 big questions. First, is how fast will bird finding occur? If I do this loop in 3 weeks and tick all birds I need, what do I do with the remaining month of August? Should I instead bow the loop out east into Nebraska and north into South Dakota to try to find Sharp-tailed grouse, Greater prairie-chicken, and Black-billed cuckoo? Even if I did bow the loop out to the east, each of these birds would be very difficult to find. It might be better to just move slowly the next 2 months and make sure I get all these species. If I happen to get them quickly, I can worry about what to do with the extra time later. Making it to the Northern Oregon coast to get Mew gull and Tufted Puffin is an possible option as well. I could get lucky with these grouse or they could take 4-5 days each to find. I just don't know. 

I will also be 100% honest and say that there is really something inside me that would love to make it to Seattle in August. I might be able to add a few species in that area (Boreal chickadee, Spruce grouse, Tufted Puffin, Mew Gull for example), but at least the first 2 of these would be very tough as they would require several days in the North Cascades. Gray-crowned rosy-finch could then be ticked at Mt. Rainier as I headed South. It would be REALLY REALLY cool to be able to reach all four corners of the lower 48.......

Point is there is a lot of planning that needs to happen these next few days. These next two months are very amorphous. Sept - Dec are going to be exceptionally straightforward, so its really the decisions that I make in July and August that are going to make or break the species count and potentially my body as well. If I could get all the species above, and if I could get some of the California pelagic species somehow, I think I could get really, really close to 600. 

Hopefully at least some of this makes sense, I know I rambled a bit......


  1. In the Tetons, Dusky Grouse are quite reliable on the top of Signal Mountain. Greater Sage-grouse on the Antelope Flats Road around dawn. Check the feeders behind Dornan's for Calliope and Rufous Hummingbird. Beautiful area with the Tetons as a constant picturesque view.

  2. Hang in there. Let the slow times be some of the GOOD times. I think your numbers will be the benchmark for some time, but the fun part for the rest of us is to be able to say, "Yeah, I remember following that crazy Dorian feller day by day. Held my breath sometimes and spewed milk outta my nose more than once reading his blogs. Those were the days! Yes, these ARE those days!"

    Just as an aside, and I know nobody else will care, but the TOUR is about to start and it has the potential to be EPIC!!! The races leading up to now have been incredibly unpredictable and it's becoming impossible to count the favorites on one hand. July is one of my FAVORITE months. Coverage of the Tour is on NBCSports for those who have access.

    The Feral Cyclist