What determine a nemesis bird is probably different for different birders. Most commonly it’s a bird that has been chased several times and missed. In my case though the term nemesis bird means putting myself in the right habitat at the right time and not seeing the bird. And that’s the case with Golden Eagle still nemesis.
I have put myself in the right habitat for different species several times and have had good luck seeing those birds. But not so for the Golden Eagle.
And my recent trip Colorado is no exception. Sort of.
Running the Douglas Pass BBS route north of Grand Junction looked perfect for seeing a Golden Eagle. Even the old BBS route map from the 1980s had Golden Eagle lair written at one stop. So I was quite hopeful I’d finally see one.
Just below Douglas Pass I saw a distant, large raptor flying up onto the mountainside. The bird landed on the wrong side of a tree which restricted visibility. At that distance and vantage point I wasn’t sure if it was an immature Red-tailed Hawk or a larger bird. I wrote down hawk sp.
The unknown raptor landed in the grove of trees below the pass.
The route continued to switch back up the mountain and I got close to where I’d seen the bird. And soon I started hearing the call of a Golden Eagle. But the call was coming from an area outside my visibility.
The BBS route demanded I keep moving. I decided after completing the route I’d stop in the vicinity of the calling eagle and scan the skies.
Upon completing the Douglas Pass BBS route I went back to a pull-off not far below the pass’s summit. This road makes a sharp turn making it a blind turn from both directions.
The view of the pull-off used to scan for the Golden Eagle. A Mountain Bluebird kept me company.
A closer view of the Mountain Bluebird using the dead tree to fly out for insects.
And Pine Siskins would land at my feet to add a little gravel to their diet.
From my vantage point I noticed a gas truck coming up and another gas truck coming down the pass. I’m thinking it would be interesting if they’d meet right at the turn where I was located. I assumed the drivers made this turn every day so there shouldn’t be a problem.
Looking down from the pull-off at a gas truck making its way up the switch back road.
The road coming down from the summit.
The immediate view coming up to the summit.
The best photo of the turn without falling off the pull-out. The eagle came flying over left of center.
Watching the skies but also keeping an eye on the gasoline trucks, I see they are going to meet at almost the same time at the turn. And I mean at the same time.
So of course right when the trucks meet at the turn the battery in my camera dies, and a Golden Eagle flies over with its wings positioned for a steep dive.
I got a glimpse of the brown and tan on the bird since it isn’t 50 feet away. By the time I get my binoculars on the bird and change the camera battery, the Golden Eagles is now probably a mile out over the valley and moving away fast. The only photos are of the Golden Eagle flying away.
The black blur left of center is the Golden Eagle flying away.
I sat and scanned for another hour without a hint of the bird. With the poor look the Golden Eagle will remain my nemesis bird.
At least the scenery was beautiful.
And if you’re wondering, the truck drivers were pros and didn’t even come close to each other. They knew exactly when to slow down to make the turn.