Birding Rabbit Valley was exciting in a different way than the previous Western Colorado habitats. I had never birded a strictly semi-arid environment so the birding would be different than the other days.
I left the motel at 5AM to be at Rabbit Valley by 5:30, a 25 minute drive almost to the Utah border, to listen for Common Poorwill and Common Nighthawk. The area is a typical sagebrush area with sparse pinyon and junipers mixed in with the sagebrush. It was as quiet as previous days so I should have heard either species if they had been calling. But no luck. The noise from I-70 could easily be heard, making the day a little different from other days with the constant backdrop of semis. But it felt good being out early.
At dawn around the north entrance there wasn’t much happening except Rock Wrens, Lark Sparrows, and Black-throated Sparrows. So I drove several miles along the north boundary road. Nothing. So I decided to tun around and head back.
I finally saw a red finch that I hoped might be a Cassin’s Finch. I stopped to check it out and it turned out to be a House Finch and it’s flock. But the stop proved very productive as I then heard several other birds. I’m not sure if it was the geographic location, or that the day was finally getting into full swing, or my presence, but the few birds that were there started calling. So I stayed and birded the area for several hours with good results.
The area had more Rock Wren and Black-throated Sparrows plus many more Lark Sparrows. While watching these species I heard a raucous “caw” down the road. Took me a minute but it dawned on me that it was Pinyon Jays heading my way. One of the few birds I really wanted to see on the trip. So I then proceeded to spend probably an hour chasing them around the dry, arid, sagebrush area. They would fly from bush to bush, never giving good looks, and never coming out in the open except to fly. But I did get a few looks and in the chase saw several other species.
A Gray Vireo started calling from the top of a bush giving good looks. Then Sagebrush Sparrow, Sage Thrasher, Say’s Phoebe, and an Ash-throated Flycatcher all appeared at one time or another. And the Lark Sparrows were still thick.
Unlike the previous days I wasn’t at altitude and the day started to warm up quickly. And there was no wind. Hindsight says I should have walked to Rabbit Canyon and spent the day birding in the shade of the canyon. But it would have been a good walk in the hot sun to get to the canyon since it wasn’t accessible by car, 4WD only.
So I headed across to the Interstate to Brewster Ridge were Scott’s Orioles sometimes nest.
The day was not “officially” hot and there wasn’t anything on Brewster’s Ridge except Black-throated Sparrows. I got out and walked for a half hour and didn’t hear anything else.
I then stopped by a local lake that might have birds. Nothing there. And lastly went by a local wetland that had Prairie Dogs.
I then called it an early day at 2PM to go back and catch up on my notes.