26 August 2013

Pawnee National Grasslands

In Northeast Colorado there are endless rolling grasslands that stretch as far as the eye can see.  Pawnee National Grasslands is a must-stop birding destination but you better pick up a Delorme map before you get lost on the numerous dirt roads.  After an hour or more of wandering I was completely lost but luckily I had joined the Boulder Bird Club and our fearless leader knew every turn and intersection.

We started the morning at the Crow Valley Campground where birds like Eastern Bluebird and a Baltimore x Orchard Oriole gave us nice looks.  It was windy and cold and we missed a few targets but this is a great spot to start any grasslands birding tour.  I'll be back there for sure.

Once in the heart of the grasslands it was nothing but Horned Larks and Lark Buntings.  We even found a few Burrowing Owls at a large Prairie Dog town.  The best bird of the day was my lifer McCown's Longspur.  We had to work for it but it only made the effort worth our time.

The only disappointment was we dipped on the Mountain Plover despite many attempts to find one.  It just seems like they are harder to come by these days.  Oh well, it only means I have another day and another adventure ahead to find one next time.  

On the way back to Boulder we stopped in Weld County at one of the numerous reservoirs and picked up quite an array of shorebirds including a Red-necked Pharalope.  The perfect ending to a nice birding day.  

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