Colorado National Monument – Quiet, Very Quiet

 And I don’t mean a lack of birds.

You know one of the reasons I don’t particularly like urban birding is that there is always noise in the background. Always.  That is why I go to Atterbury FWA. Usually before 10AM the gun range isn’t open and the National Guard isn’t in full swing yet. So most times it is relatively quiet on a Saturday morning. I can actually hear the birds without the sound of man-made noise in the background.

But Colorado National Monument at dawn on a Sunday morning was quiet.  Real quiet. For someone who lives in Indianapolis and not that far from I-65, it was eerie quiet.

And the quiet was GREAT!

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Here is the view heading to Colorado National Monument from the south entrance at dawn. Not much happening…
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And the general area I would be birding in the early morning. There are more birds out there than what I initially thought.

At first all I could hear were Gambel’s Quail giving their “ka-KAA-ka” call. No cars. No people. No machines.  It was a great way to start the trip.

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After hearing Gambel’s Quails calling I finally spotted this male in a nearby bush.
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Here he is calling. You gotta dig the black topknot and the other vibrant colors.

I picked Colorado National Monument for the first day since it was close to Grand Junction and after driving 5 hours the day before I wanted to stay close to town. So as was to be the norm for the trip I was up by 5, made the days PB&J sandwiches, and was out the door to meet the dawn a little before 6. And the quiet.

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One of the first birds that checked me out was this Black-throated Sparrow. After Western Meadowlarks I think this might have been the most numerous species I saw in the trip. Check out the tail pattern.
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In for a closer look. He appears to be grumpy.
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The Ash-throated Flyctcher is similar to the Eastern Great Crested Flycatcher but the call wasn’t quite as similar as I thought it would be.
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Here’s a closer view of the area I was birding – mainly Juniper and scrub.
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The Western counterpart to the Ruby-throated Hummingbird – a male Black-chinned Hummingbird. This was about as close as they would get.
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The rabbits were even tamer than back home. Several times they ran right over my boots.

So here are some of the Western species I observed if not photographed for the first part of the morning – Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-chinned Hummingbird, Black-throated Sparrow, Bushtit, Canyon Wren, Common Raven, Gambel’s Quail, Lesser Goldfinch, Say’s Phoebe, and Spotted Towhee.

I then decided to be SUPERMAN and make the climb into Ute Canyon figuring there would be a different variety of birds. It was already approaching 90F and clear.  A good day for a hike. And I only ended up seeing Plumbous Vireo and Virginia’s Warbler.

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This is a view of the trail down to Ute Canyon from an angle a little farther up the rim road. Can you see the switchbacks?
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I have outlined the switchbacks to show the trail I took down.
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And here is the view from the bottom of the canyon. Doesn’t look so bad from this angle. On the way up I walked 2 minutes and rested 2 minutes.  I finally got back up.
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The satellite view of Ute Canyon with the area I descended highlighted. Now if I would have seen this before I climbed down, would I have gone?
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The topographic map of the canyon. It’s only 400-500 feet down. It sure looked like more coming up…
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Remember in the spring when I posted about getting lucky? It was about a good photo I got of a Blue-headed Vireo that I was lucky to get. Here is the link – https://bushwhackingbirder.com/general/just-plain-lucky/ And as you can see I didn’t get a good photo of its western cousin – Plumbous Vireo. It was in a Cottonwood Tree at the bottom of the canyon.
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One of several lizards I saw on the trip. My daughter informs me this is probably a Six-lined Racerunner.
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The view of the east side of the canyon. A little steeper…

The rest of Colorado National Monument was quiet.  And this time I mean birds.  I took a few scenic photos and headed out around noon.

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A view of the Grand Valley taken from the top of Colorado National Monument.

It was time to head somewhere cooler to bird.

 

One Reply to “Colorado National Monument – Quiet, Very Quiet”

  1. Magnificent scenery… that hike looks a little strenuous. BCHU has a wide range over the west, but along the CA coast are much scarcer than Anna’s. Flowers must be few and far between out there….

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