Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Colorado Is for the Chickens

I never warned you.

Colorado. A wonderful place. For nearly three weeks I ravaged the state, destroying target birds right and left. The first ten days I stayed with Marcel Such and his family in Lyons (thanks, guys, for putting up with me for that long!) and the last seven days were devoted to Camp Colorado (thanks, Sea and Sage Audubon and American Birding Association for the scholarships!)

Naturally, all this birding and marauding created heaps of stories.

Ask me to tell you one next time I see you, because I don't have time right now!

That's because I'm embarking on another road trip with my friend Tim tomorrow. The day after I return, I begin volunteering at nature day camps for kids for the next two weeks. After that, I have a week-long college orientation trip...

You get the idea. I'll probably never get around to writing a full report for the trip. Oh well. In the meantime, enjoy these two miniature stories. The first is about the ptarmigan (photo at top.) These dapper little chickens are legendary among birders. They're tough to find--supposedly. Marcel, his brother Joel, and I had no trouble finding several of these quizzical chickens quarreling on the tundra up by Trail Ridge Road in Rocky National Park. The birds ignored us as they chased each other around, and at one point one of them almost landed on my boot.

Perhaps even more miraculous was our run-in with this Dusky Grouse. They're possible just about anywhere--and supposedly, you'll encounter one if you hike around enough in their habitat. Well, we hiked for a week in the mountains with no luck--until we came across this gorgeous displaying male. Joel and I plunged into the dark, mosquito-infested forest and stalked it as it displayed in the shadows. It largely ignored us. Have you ever had a Dusky Grouse stroll within two feet of you as you kneel amid sweet pine needles?

It's one of those things that you just have to experience for yourself. If you have, great. If you haven't? Too bad.


More later. So long, and thanks for the orange juice.

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