Mountain Bluebirds

I went birding on Saturday. I had it in the back of my mind that, if I saw 14 new birds for the year, I’d reach 100 on my 2018 list by the end of January. It didn’t happen—I saw nine—but it was still a good day.

I drove down to Lake Pueblo State Park where I’d seen the Snowy Owl a couple weeks ago. It hadn’t been reported in a couple days, but there was others stuff around. I got out of my car on the ridge above the marina and was immediately distracted by a flock of small birds in a bare tree next to the lot. Closer inspection revealed them to be mostly Mountain Bluebirds, at least 40 of them. There were Pine Siskins, House Finches, and a Townsend’s Solitaire thrown in.

They were obviously most interested in a couple juniper bushes closer to the water, so I grabbed my camera and walked slowly in that direction. The flock got used to my presence pretty quickly and I was able to get close enough for some good shots. 

That’s Pikes Peak in the background, about 35 miles north.

I quit taking photos with my camera at this point, but I’m not sure why because I saw some other cool birds. I drove west out of the state park into the state wildlife area where I saw a Loggerhead Shrike, a Red-necked Grebe, and a raft of Eared Grebes. Back in the state park, I wandered around a campground for about an hour hoping to scare up a Juniper Titmouse in the place where I saw my lifer 16 years ago, but I struck out. 

I headed back toward Colorado Springs and pulled off just north of the El Paso County line. Some southern birds have been seen regularly along a stretch of road on the extreme southern edge of the county. I drove back and forth for about an hour. I missed the Greater Roadrunner that’s been spotted there, but I did see a Ladder-backed Woodpecker and a pair of Curve-billed Thrashers. The woodpecker seemed way out of place in the cholla flats at least a mile from the nearest tree. The thrashers felt more at home, but that’s the first time I’ve seen that species since 1984 in Arizona.

Clockwise from upper left: Loggerhead Shrike at Lake Pueblo SWA; Coyote; Longhorn; and Curve-billed Thrasher all from Hanover/Meridian Road area.

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