Well, it is maybe about time to update this blog, as it has been silent for a few months!
Luckily, nothing exciting has happened in the meantime, unless you count two Canada firsts and a couple of exciting Victoria area vagrants, all of which have been well publicized.
The Victoria Birder is set to be back on the road soon! Following the success of last years Great Canadian Chicken Hunt with Russ and Ilya, I have decided that a followup is in order, and am kicking off the Great Colorado Chicken Hunt in a mere six days.
My route is not going to be the most efficient, and as this is a solo trip, I won't have anyone to share the driving with, but starting in Denver next Saturday, I am going to head first to Grand Junction, a smaller town in Western Colorado. From there I will be able to access several great birding locations, as well as use it as a base for a day trip to Moab, Utah, where I will spend the majority of my time beginning a Utah list and hunting for Juniper Titmouse, if the scenery doesn't distract me.
Next, I will be retracing my steps back through Denver to Wray, located in Eastern Colorado, a few miles from the border with both Nebraska and Kansas, for an early morning Greater Prairie-Chicken tour through the Wray Chamber of Commerce. After wrapping up this tour I am headed to Lamar, where I will be doing a Lesser Prairie-Chicken tour the next morning with Arena Dust Tours. Now to most, the 3 hour drive from Wray to Lamar would be a great opportunity to bird casually along the way. The Victoria Birder is not most, however, and I will be taking the scenic route, driving from Wray to Quivira Refuge in Stafford, Kanses, a major stopover for the critically endangered Whooping Crane. With two hours at Quivira, I will then complete the 7-8 hour drive, winding up in Lamar with enough time to sleep before the next mornings tour.
After the Lesser tour, I will be heading West again to Gunnison, home of the "other" Sage Grouse. The endangered Gunnison Sage-Grouse is limited mainly to a very small area, the Gunnison Basin, and is a victim of habitat loss. Thankfully, Colorado Parks and Wildlife maintains a viewing area at the Waunita Lek, 19 miles east of Gunnison. This viewing area opens on April 1, and I will be there opening day, hoping for great looks. Also in the area of Gunnison and Crested Butte, I will be hoping to track down Black and Brown-capped Rosy-Finches, if I haven't already found them. Following the Gunnison birds, I will be heading to Pueblo and Colorado Springs, hunting for gulls, waterfowl, and passerines at the Pueble Reservoir, and passerines and Mountain Plover at Chico Basin Ranch. Winding up the 12 day trip, I will be flying home on April 3.
This trip will have my smallest travelling target list to date (13, with many longshots, plus another 4 that I haven't seen in the United States), so I am thinking I am going to have to start travelling further afield. I may also have to start considering warmer locations, after last years March trip to southern Alberta, and now this one. Jeremy Gatten may have the right idea, heading to Thailand or Panama during the winter season.....
Stay tuned for post-trip updates, and Good Birding!