Douglas Pass – The Real Reason

The real reason for the December trip to the Grand Junction area of Colorado was to check out my June BBS (Breeding Bird Survey) routes. As I have previously posted the BBS routes are the main source to determine bird distribution in the U.S. and is one of the main factors if a bird is on or off an endangered list.

Besides the two BBS routes I run in Indiana I will now run two in western Colorado north of Grand Junction. Before I volunteered I wanted to make sure the area habitat was not strictly scrub. From the previous surveys I was sure they weren’t but I wanted to confirm. Thus the real reason for the trip.

Real Reason

Both Baxter Pass and Douglas Pass routes are similar. Their 24.5-mile route both start in scrub land and go over mountain passes (the squiggly part of the route lines). I-80 is the white line and the gray line down the left is the Utah border. Taken from the BBS web page.

I ended up at Highline Lake SP around noon¬†and headed to the nearby starting point of the nearer Douglas Pass route. I wasn’t going to bird the route as much travel it to get a general feel of the landscape.

The early morning view from Loma. The BBS route starts 12 miles north of town and winds up and over Douglas Pass, the snow-covered mountain due north.

The route starts in scrub land which was void of birds except the occasional Common Raven.

After a few miles the route starts paralleling East Salt Creek that had numerous Cottonwoods. I’m assuming along the creek is where most of the birds will be in June. This is the view looking back south towards Loma.

The view looking south from Douglas Pass. The road up consists of several switchbacks which will make it interesting where I pull off in June since I couldn’t with the snow on the ground.

The view north from the pass. When I left the Grand Valley it was 40F. It was 15F and strong winds here. Brrr…

Why are there always Common Ravens where there aren’t any other birds? I circled one of the three flying over the pass.

Now I don’t think this Black-billed Magpie brought down this deer but it was sure acting like it.

These two got into a nice argument over the deer before being joined by several other magpies. I bet they fed on this for a week. Or until the state got it off the road.

A final view as I headed down the pass.

The route was what I hoped it would be – scrub to creek side to mountain. I don’t think I’ll have any problem seeing/hearing the norm of 60+ species for this count.

Bring on June!

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