Time to wrap up the Colorado trip. This post and one more should do it.
After birding the Grand Junction area for 4 days I planned to spend the last full day in the area walking/hiking and see if I had actually learned some of the western birds without having to stop and think about it. I decided to head back to Colorado National Monument and hike up No Thoroughfare Canyon to the first waterfall. It would be one mile up a ravine/creek bed and take a few hours. Plus hopefully see a few birds on the way.
The habitat wouldn’t vary much and it ended up not being real birdy, but I had a nice hike.
Gambel’s Quails were calling to start the day again. Along with Mourning Doves cooing. And for the fifth straight day I think Black-throated Sparrows were the first birds to come and check me out. Plus the rabbits were all over the place. (Unlike Rabbitt Valley)
Plumbeous Vireos were the most numerous bird going up the trail with a pair in about every cluster of Cottonwood trees. eBird even made me confirm the quantity – 8.
One of the neater things on the trail was a rock outcropping that must have had White-throated Swifts nesting. They were constantly flying in and out of the rocks. Perched at the base if the rocks were some juvenile Red-tailed Hawks that called the whole time I was walking by.
A little farther past the outcropping I heard a distant caw. At first I thought it was Common Ravens since they had been flying around earlier. But the closer the noise got I could tell they were Pinyon Jays! After not getting good looks the day before I was hoping they would stay out in the open in the narrow ravine. Finally a group of three came down the side of the cliff and one actually stayed out in the open while the other two hid.
So I finally got good looks at a Pinyon Jay.
I finally reached the waterfall, which turned out not to be a waterfall in the dry season. But I ran into a park volunteer who said the next waterfall was about another mile. I hadn’t planned going that far and hadn’t brought enough water. But he brought plenty of extra water in his backpack for people that went up the trail in sandals, no sunscreen, and with no water. So he gave me a bottle and I carried on. I really didn’t expect more birds but felt like hiking.
The walk to the second waterfall was about the same walk as to the first. Except the ravine narrowed and there were even less birds as the day heated up. But I ran into another hiker who said that his buddy was hiking in from the backside to meet him. This was also government land and was higher elevation. I ran into him later and he never did meet up with his friend. Listening to him I think the guy was lost.
The hike back down was uneventful. It was late morning so I decided to try the higher elevation outside of the park. I am glad I did because I finally came across a Juniper Titmouse. A bird I really shouldn’t have missed on the trip.
With a rare storm approaching and not wanting to get caught up on the ridge, I called it a day.