First, I would like to start by saying I have a new respect for people who blog on a daily basis. Especially ones that blog from vacation or trips. After birding for 11-12 hours every day, I really didn’t feel like writing a post. I kept thinking I would head in early one day after lunch to write, but that didn’t happen. So I didn’t get around to posting as planned. But I kept good written and voice notes to write posts.
Why Western Colorado?
I have been asked this more than a couple of times. To understand just look at a map of the U.S. Sibley has these types of maps in the front of his guides. The U.S. is basically broken down into 3 major regions for birds. The area east of the Rockies, the area between the Rockies and the Sierra Nevada’s/Cascades – The Great Basin, and west of the Sierra Nevada’s/Cascades – Pacific Coast. Plus there are also the smaller areas of South Florida, South Texas, Southern Arizona, and Alaska. And Northern Minnesota in the winter should probably added.
I live east of the Rockies and have birded Oregon and Southern California. That left The Great Basin. I could have gone to Salt Lake City, Flagstaff, or Las Vegas for example. But I chose Grand Junction, Colorado, since I could fly from Indianapolis to Denver for $200, rent a car, and be in Grand Junction in 4 hours. The air fare for any of the other destinations would have been more than the airfare and car from Denver. Also the area has many state and federal lands of various altitudes which make for good birding.
Why the middle of June?
If you have been reading this blog you’ll remember I went to South Texas last June. The reason for traveling mid-June is that I try to visit an area at the end of migration but before the local breeders are done calling. By following that plan I can concentrate on the local breeders without the distraction of migrants. Plus it is usually less expensive in June than in July or August when the rates are usually much higher for “normal” vacationers.
I had two concerns about the trip.
First, the average high temperature in Grand Junction in mid-June is clear and almost 90F. That didn’t worry me too much since I like dry heat.
Second, the altitude. Grand Junction is at 4600 feet and some of the areas I planned to bird were over 9000 feet. Headaches and dizziness from altitude had me a lot more worried than the heat.
Otherwise I didn’t have any other concerns. So with the chance to see approximately 40 new species and plenty of new habitat to explore, I headed west.
Next installment: First some birding east of the Rockies.