Colorado Adventures 2012-Day 5
August 13th, 2012 a.k.a. as Day 5 of our 2012 Colorado trip. As always, I woke up early. I woke up to hearing a Goshawk calling in the woods. I found it rather odd that I was hearing Goshawks like this. After getting ready, I went outside and started to search. I heard the call again. As I went towards the call, all I saw was a Gray Jay. Once again. I asked myself, "could Gray Jays be immitating a Goshawk?" I couldn't see why they would sound so perfect at it, but the goshawk I was hearing did sound almost like a weak and more quiet goshawk. And we all know goshawks don't sound weak. I stopped thinking about the goshawk and refocused my find towards lifers. Today was the day I needed to find a Pine Grosbeak. I wanted it bad!
I started the day off in similar days to yesterday. Once out at the cabin, I birded that area shortly, and then took the Colorado Highway 145 south (I took it north yesterday). As I came out to the road, I was amazed at the sight of an elk herd feeding in the grasslands.
A lot of the stretch of hiking that I walked along the 145 went through grasslands, as well as mixed conifer and heavy stands of aspen woodland. Like the elk, this Mountain Bluebird also enjoyed the high mountain meadows and open grasslands.
After a few hours of walking on the road, I wasn't really seeing anything new birding wise to add to my trip list. You can only see so much in aspen groves before there isn't anything else new to see! When I came back to the cabin, nearby I found a small herd of four large Mule Deer bucks. This guy was the largest of the four!
Once I got back to the cabin, I enjoyed birding in some of the riparian willow thickets around the cabin. There were plenty of birds in this one spot! Some of them included:
Wilson's Warbler (a species I have never seen in it's breeding range before this trip)
Fox Sparrow (This is a young Fox Sparrow of the "Slate-colored" race. This is another species I have never seen in it's breeding range, another enjoyable bird!)
Below is a picture of the habitat I birded in, where these goodies and more gave me a good showing a less than ten minutes.
After I got back to the cabin, my family's agenda was to hike up the trail to Bridal Veil Falls. I was happy with that. After we ate breakfast and got around for the day, we headed into the town of Telluride and worked our way over to the majestic heights. There is actually a road that goes to the top of the falls, and Dad saved us a lot of walking by driving up the four mile road halfway. A lot of vehicles drive to the top. As we walked up, there were some good birding highlights right away. Once again, I saw a Golden Eagle soaring in the mountains. A few Swainson's Thrushes flew around in the thickets surrounding the trail. I then got lucky and saw a Black Swift quickly, as well as a handful of White-throated Swifts. I knew in my mind that the top of Bridal Viel falls had excellent and pure spruce-fir forest, which is ideal for Pine Grosbeak. Besides birds, the scenery was alright too...
Once we reached the top of Bridal Veil Falls, we hiked along a beautiful tralil that goes behind the falls. The river that feeds the big waterfall is what we walked on. It was probably the coolest place I have ever been to in my life. Several other waterfalls formed back in this spectacular area. Tyler and Talia went back down to the vehicle, while Mom, Dad, and I continued on the trail for a short distance. We were blown away by the beauty!
Once we hiked on this beauty for a short distance, it started to pour down rain. We knew it wouldn't rain long, but we had to turn around anyways. We still took and time and almost started to make plans for hiking this trail on one of the upcoming days. As we waited for the rain to pass, I saw a rather large pink finch-like bird fly into a fir. The bird had a pink rump and I knew it had to be my awaited Pine Grosbeak! I ran off the trail and under the fir. I couldn't find the bird. After playing my iPod to attempt calling it in for a few minutes, I got no response and the bird was gone. A frustrating thing. Further down the trail as we were almost back to the main trail of the Bridal Veil Falls, I heard a Pine Grosbeak singing. I thought, "Oh crap, I didn't turn my iPod off". I took my iPod out and saw that it was off. I then looked up and saw a male Pine Grosbeak sitting above my head! It was amazing, and I stared at the bird in disbelief for twenty seconds or so. It was then joined by a female. Right when I got it in my mind to take a picture, the Pine Grosbeaks flew to the next tree and started foraging actively. I couldn't get a photo before they left. The experience was amazing. Had I taken a picture of the male PI GR when I first saw it, it would've turned out great. I did however manage to get a picture of this Golden Eagle who soared overhead..
After the hike, we stopped in Telluride to get stuff for dinner. The hike made us all extremely hungry. On our way home, things got interesting as Dad looked on the side of the road and screamed, "LOOK, LOOK!!!". We all came to see that a large Black Bear was on the grassy hillside along the road. It was the largest Black Bear I have ever seen in my life, and the second one I've seen on this trip. This bear was huge and was the perfect ending to the day. It was also the 10th Black Bear I've seen in the wild during my time!
Go to Day 6