Monday, August 17, 2009

Fast, Fun Getaway

I enjoyed another fun and relaxing weekend camping in the Pike National forest Friday and Saturday nights. Warm enough to enjoy the days, but getting cooler at night - ensuring deep sleep and crisp frosty mornings. The birding was better than I have had on recent camping trips. I didn't add any life birds, but did add one to my Colorado list, and saw a bunch of new species for that area. Vesper Sparrows, like the one above are common around my home, but this one seen just after sunrise really showed off the rufous shoulder patches.

At one point, after a bit of four wheeling, I had my friends drop me off a few miles from camp. That let me cross a boggy creek and cross a ridge on my way back, getting some diverse habitat types into my trip. The willows along the creek, which produced a Moose for fellow campers on a trip in June, were productive for me as well. The Ruby-crowned Kinglet, above, was the first I had seen in Colorado, and the first that I had seen while "out birding" rather than looking through my sister's back window.

Shortly after seeing the Kinglet I was treated to a fairly close Wilson's Warbler. Of course the ten or so shots I had of it perched left its eye squarely behind the branch - oh well. Their color is such fun to see along a willow choked mountain stream.

The Western Wood Pewees were ever vigilant just beyond "our" campsite nestled in an aspen grove.

One of the secret advantages of birding is the motivation it gives for getting up early when camping. For most of my adult life camping has included campfires that are kept burning until deep into the morning, and far more s'mores and belly warming beverages than were absolutely necessary. I'm not against those activities for any reason, and sometimes sitting on a stump staring at the dying embers of a good fire can be just as vital as any daylight exploration. That being said, it is good to have a reason to turn in when the first yawns hit, and even better to have a reason - and plan - for abandoning that warm sleeping bag to brave the frost as the predawn glow begins. The Downy Woodpecker above was a reward for getting up early on Sunday. I watched and enjoyed as he woke and performed his morning preen, getting ready for the busy day ahead.

The early day light and shadow even gave this Chipping Sparrow a distinctive look. I was glad to have the trip, the calendar is getting full for fall, and the next trip may feature heavy coats and multiple mid-layers.
2009 Count: 175
Lifetime: 183

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