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COLORADO

Thursday 4th April - Tuesday 16th April 2013

Mike Watson

White-tailed Ptarmigan was once again found easily - a real tour highlight (Mike Watson)

White-tailed Ptarmigan was once again found easily - a real tour highlight (Mike Watson)

Our 2013 ‘Ultimate Grousequest’ to the Rocky Mountains and High Plains of Colorado (and neighbouring Kansas) was another success with our fifth clean sweep in a row of the ‘magnificent seven’: the pure white White-tailed Ptarmigan (we did it again!); the extrovert Greater and Lesser Prairie Chickens; the super-bold Dusky Grouse; foot-stomping Sharp-tailed Grouse and the two big boomers – Gunnison’s and Sage Grouse. This was some achievement (but also a little lucky) in the worst spring weather we have experienced on this tour so far and at the same time we also reached a new Birdquest highest bird species total of 180 (ABA), or, depending on taxonomy, as many as 190 bird taxa. Some outstanding Nearctic birding included: Scaled and Gambel’s Quails; Wild Turkey; Chukar Partridge (OK, the ABA listers forced me to do it!); Snow, Ross’s and Cackling Geese; Wood Duck; Barrow’s Goldeneye; Hooded Merganser; Great Northern Loon; Clark’s Grebe; Ferruginous Hawk; Prairie Falcon; Sandhill Crane; Snowy and Mountain Plovers; Franklin’s, California and Kumlien’s Gulls; Western Screech, Great Horned, Burrowing and Boreal (heard) Owls; Lewis’s (two), Ladder-backed (four) and American Three-toed (three) Woodpeckers; Williamson’s (five) and Red-naped (three) Sapsuckers; Grey, Pinyon and the newly-split Woodhouse’s Scrub Jays; Clark’s Nutcracker; Chihuahuan Raven; Black-capped and Mountain Chickadees; Juniper Titmouse; Rock, Canyon, Marsh and Bewick’s Wrens; Pygmy, Red-breasted and ‘Rocky Mountains’ White-breasted Nuthatches; Sage and Curve-billed Thrashers; the pretty trio of Eastern, Western and Mountain Bluebirds; Townsend’s Solitaire; American Dipper; the four Rosy Finch forms (Hepburn’s, Grey-crowned, Black and Brown-capped); Cassin’s Finch; Pine and Evening Grosbeaks; an early Myrtle Warbler (my first warbler of any species on this tour!); Slaty Fox, Harris’s, Sage, Black-throated and Rufous-crowned Sparrows; six forms of Junco (Slate-coloured, White-winged, Oregon, Cassiar, Pink-sided and Grey-headed) and finally McCown’s Longspur out in the snow on the plains.

Russ Seward’s Greater Prairie Chicken lek was again the highlight of the tour for most (Mike Watson)

Russ Seward’s Greater Prairie Chicken lek was again the highlight of the tour for most (Mike Watson)