We drove out into
the desert towards the Arkansas River Valley and once away from the highway
spotted a few Scaled Quails beside
the road. One individual was extremely confiding and showed very well, even
calling form a fence right in front of us.
Continuing on we searched the
Junipers for any sign of life in the gale force winds but it was hard work,
although a Rock Wren gave
We finally found ourselves at an overlook with a grand view
of the Arkansas River below us. A Mountain
Bluebird was quite close, whilst some Chipping
Sparrows and a Canyon Towhee gave
fleeting glimpses. A flock of Franklin’s
Gulls appeared, along with American
White Pelicans, and we scoped Clark’s
and Western Grebes side-by-side.
Also on the water were American Wigeon,
Cinnamon Teal, Double-crested Cormorant, and other common wildfowl. Hirundines
were plentiful and included Tree Swallow,
Northern Rough-winged Swallow and a
few Violet-green Swallows.
We returned to
the motel to collect our luggage before setting out on the drive west, and this
took us through a scenic river valley. A stop along the river produced a pair
of American Dippers feeding young at
a nest, plus a male Audubon’s Warbler,
and a herd of Bighorn Sheep a little
further on. Another roadside stop was made to view a flock of 20+ Pinyon Jays that performed very well
although it wasn’t great photo opps.
The road then wound ever upwards to
Monarch Pass (11,321 feet). A quick stop at the gift store for some souvenirs
and even ice-cream for some was followed by a few stops where we searched for American Three-toed Woodpecker without
luck, and our best find was a Townsend’s
Then we drove out into
the plateau and found a pair of Sandhill
Cranes and flocks of wildfowl before reaching our motel in Gunnison.