One of the things I miss the most about Florida is all the birds, just everywhere. I could drive in downtown Miami and see half a dozen species from the car window. A spin around a small trail could tally another 30-40. That's one species every minute of the walk! But Colorado birding seems to be a different beast. Birds come in waves and they are harder to see but when they show up, they are pretty stunning. Whether it's hummingbirds migrating through or winter finches coming off the mountains, you never know what you may see. So in early May I got wind of a Painted Redstart only 30 minutes away. I failed to share some of the photos with all of you so here were my best of the afternoon. Mind you, I mostly watched through my bins but a few shots for memories sake was definitely in order. Emily basically had to pull me back in the car so we could get home on the school night in decent time.
The Painted Redstart was very cooperative and the 2-4 birders in the area got great looks. It was joined periodically by a few warblers but mostly kept to itself. We watched it feed, preen, and flit about the tops of the trees in the Pawnee Grasslands campground. It was not my first Colorado lifer but certainly one I will always remember.
To top it off, on the way home I spied some White-faced Ibis in the highway ditch area. Another lifer and one that I was expecting at some point but not while chasing a rare bird. All the same, we spun the car around, watched from the shoulder as this group feed in the shallow waters. The Glossy Ibis that were a daily bird for me are long gone but it's good to know another species is there to take its place. In 2015, Andy Lantz and I are going to attempt simultaneous Big County Years. I will tackle Larimer County, in which I live and he will pick a county in Nashville, TN. It won't be the same as birding along side my favorite dude but it will be a nice way to connect a country away from each other. That's the nice thing about birding, even if it can be a solitary activity it's a community of people all together.