Friday, September 28, 2012

Field Notes 9.15.12

It was not long after we left home that we realized we had both forgotten our cell phones. Oh well.

We continued on undaunted to Zapata Falls.  We had heard rumors of an American dipper on the stream, but we did not see the dipper. We think this is one bird that will go on our--Wanted To See, Tried To See, Should Have Seen (along with the yellow-billed cuckoo)--bird count list.  Up above the falls on the South Zapata Lake Trail we did see a Townsend’s solitaire, Clark’s nutcracker, northern flicker, black-capped chickadee and a possible Townsend’s warbler.

Returning to Zapata Falls, we still did not see the dipper but we did meet a sweet three-legged dog.

Following a theme, we headed next to Zapata Ranch. We saw an American kestrel on a signpost beside the road. At the ranch we walked the birding trail and saw black-billed magpies, white-breasted nuthatches and black-capped chickadees.  Several common nighthawks flew overhead. We saw one nighthawk sitting on a branch - the first time we had ever seen a nighthawk perching. We noted that the nighthawks were in flight during mid-day. Previously we have only seen nighthawks flying in the morning or early evening.  We also saw a handsome Abert’s squirrel, the first one we have seen in the San Luis Valley.

From the ranch we headed to the Great Sand Dunes National Park.  We stopped at the picnic area and ate lunch with a chipmunk. We drove up to the campground and only saw a few American robins flying through the pinon pines.  We hiked up the Medano Pass Trail and heard a Clark’s nutcracker, a jay and caught a glimpse of a few unidentified streaky sparrows.  Maybe it’s just us but we are not yet seeing many of the fall migration birds coming into the Valley. But there is nothing to feel down about.  Today was a beautiful fall day in the San Luis Valley.  We had the opportunity to walk in the forest with the aspen turning to gold, set off against the blue sky and the 14,000-foot Mount Blanca. My god, but sometimes we feel so happy.  Inexpressibly happy!!

We headed home with smiles on our faces. When we walked in the door we could not believe that it was after 5:00 p.m.  We had left the house at 8 a.m. It had been a long day for us but without the cell phones it had gone by as just a day of splendor and satisfaction.

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