Saturday, July 7, 2012

Birding in the Upper Huerfano River Valley
And THREE Life Birds!

Yesterday we decided to get away from the lingering smoke and ash and head south to one of our favorite places - the Huerfano River Valley. We packed a picnic lunch and met up with daughter Laura and her hubby Tim at o'dark thirty for the drive south on I-25 to Walsenburg. After an always delicious breakfast at George's, we turned west, past Gardner and the Singing River Ranch (that recently sold for 6-million dollars!) into the high elevation (above 10,000 feet) San Isabel National Forest. The road is long and bumpy - but the views are sensational. 

While Laura and Tim hiked back towards Blanca Peak and Mt. Lindsey to do some fishing and gold-panning in the Huerfano River, Bill and I took our time on the trail and looked for birds. We were not disappointed!

Wilson's Warbler (female)
We found a spot with lots of little yellow birds flying around and spent a couple of hours getting pictures and trying to identify them.

Wilson's Warbler (female)
 Our first new Life Bird was the Wilson's Warbler. It's diet is insects - and only insects.

Wilson's Warbler (male)
 The male Wilson's Warbler has a black cap on his head and at first look, we thought it was an American Goldfinch - but the goldfinch cap is over the forehead and they have black wings.

Wilson's Warbler (male)
 Beautiful little birds!

Audubon's Warbler (male)
 The Audubon's Warbler is a subspecies of the Yellow-rumped Warbler.

Audubon's Warbler (female)
Lincoln's Sparrow
The Sparrow with the Mohawk! When I was on Sanibel with my sister, Beth, there was a Lincoln's Sparrow  near the beach - but I missed it. My sister didn't and got a great picture. I was jealous. On this trip, we saw several sparrows flitting around, but it wasn't until I got home and checked my pictures that I was able to make final identification. The Lincoln's Sparrow was our third Life Bird of the day!

Dark-eyed Junco
 We saw a couple of other favorite birds - a Dark-eyed Junco, a Ruby-crowned Kinglet and a spectacular Western Tanager.

Western Tanager (male)
Ruby-crowned Kinglet
 The red spot on the head of the Ruby-crowned Kinglet is hard to see and nearly impossible to photograph. Without it, the bird is plain.

After a couple of hours, the rain started coming over the peak so we headed back to the car and were soon joined by Laura & Tim. We headed down the road and picnicked in  a rustic campground by the river. This fawn was by the road.

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