Birding in the Rain

Cassin’s Vireos, which I had never seen, migrate through Colorado in September. It’s the only time of year that they can readily be found. They can show up in pretty much any wooded area, so my strategy to find one was to go birding by trees as often as it took.

On Saturday evening, after Sally and I got back from La Junta, I drove over to work and birded along Monument Branch. There were a lot of birds around—warblers, sparrows, chickadees, etc. I was having a great time.

Meanwhile, a storm popped up right overhead. Storms in Colorado this time of year don’t come in waves. They just build up quickly in a given spot. I took shelter under some scrub oak about halfway down the creek ravine. I figured it put me far below the tallest pines but still far enough above the water so that if lightning struck nearby, I’d have the best chance of surviving. 

When the sun came out over the mountains, it was still raining hard. I saw a rainbow and threw caution to the wind to get some photos and video. That’s my office in the foreground. My window is the third from the left on the second floor. It’s hard to tell in these photos, but the bottom arc of the rainbow was doubled, so this is a complete triple rainbow.

By the time the rain stopped, it was getting dark. I gave up for the day and headed home.

I went back on Sunday evening. Again there were a tone of birds around, including two Warbling Vireos and a Plumbeous Vireo (which used to be conspecific with Cassin’s Vireos).

But again, it began raining, and this time, the storm included hail. I tried to shelter under a pine, but I was still getting pelted. I dashed to a willow bush along the creek. This kept off most of the rain for a bit, but once the leaves got wet, they all pointed down and I got drenched. I finally gave home and dashed for the car. 

I decided to try again on Monday (Labor Day) morning. I drove south of town to Aiken Canyon Preserve. I’d gone about a mile from my car when a morning shower popped up. This one didn’t include thunder. I climbed into the middle of a bunch of scrub oak and waited it out. I had to bend over to protect my phone, camera, and binoculars, so my back got drenched. It lasted about 20 minutes. This time, when the rain stopped, I kept going and was rewarded shortly afterwards by a Cassin’s Vireo. 

The rest of the hike was uneventful, both weatherwise and birdwise.

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