Monday, July 6, 2015

Southwestern Colorado

Colorado has an abundance of scenic byways and we enjoyed many of them.  We headed south of the Curecanti to the top of Slumgullion Pass at 11,530 ft.

We spent some time walking on the summit and heard calling and pounding, then we found the American Three-toed Woodpecker.

He flew to a nesting cavity and the young started chattering away.  We watched as he made several trips to the forest and back to the tree.  Great find!

We stayed at a National Forest Campground near Clear Creek below this falls where the water tumbles several hundred feet to the rocks below.

Mojave Aster

Red-shafted Flicker

Black-headed Grosbeak

Chipping Sparrow Nest near ground

We drove to the headwaters of the Rio Grande.

This is the Rio Grande Pyramid seen in the background which is over 12,000 ft high.

Along the way we saw a bit of the old west still happening today as this cattle drive came across the highway.
Cow-killer Velvet Ant

Pleasing Fungi Beetle

We followed the Rio Grande south then the San Juan River west flanked by beautiful rock canyons.   We stayed at Ute National Forest Campground near Chimney Rock.  It was very hot but new birds made it worth it.  We added Grace's Warbler to our growing year and retirement list.
Grace's Warbler

Rufous Hummingbird

We headed west again to the Vallicito Reservoir and stayed two nights at Blue Spruce Campground.  We went through an old (2001) fire area and found 20+ Lewis' Woodpeckers hawking for insects above the dead trees.

We walked the road along the fast moving stream and found a house with a couple dozen hummingbirds coming to flowers and feeders.  There were several Rufous bossing the Broad-tailed and Black-chinned Hummingbirds around.
Hermit Thrush Fledgling 

Beelike Tachinid Fly

Next stop was the Mesa Verde National Park where we explored many centuries old cliff dwellings of the Pueblo Indians.  They built magnificent dwellings in the alcoves of these canyons.  Why they deserted these areas may be lack of water and food which caused them to migrate.

We hiked the steep walk down to "the Spruce House" and birded all the way.  We found some fledged Black-throated Gray Warblers calling for parents to keep the food coming.

We ended the day with another hail storm, lots of erosion at the RV park.
Black-throated Gray Warbler

Got away from the 4th of July crowds by driving to Hovenweep National Monument just over the border in Utah.  Peaceful, and many new birds.  This is another deserted ancient cliff dwelling ruins area on top of and in the canyon with 7 preserved structures.
Scaled Quail

We added Scaled Quail, Bewick's Wren, Black-throated Sparrow and Barn Owl. this brings our aba year list to 415.

The only fireworks we had was lightning in all directions.  The rain finally reached us and continued half the night.

We were in 4 states in just a few minutes: Utah, Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico.  This monolith is Shiprock in NW New Mexico which can be viewed for miles.

Love & Prayers,
Ty & Ida Baumann

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