02 March 2009

Delta County - February 28

On Saturday, the 28, Andrew Spencer, Jason Beason, Otus Beason and I all traveled up the Grand Mesa to find crossbills near the Grand Mesa National Forest Visitor Center, Delta County. Andrew was the first to spot our quarry while driving down the road just a few hundred yards from the visitor center. We parked among the snowmobilers and ran after the calling birds. We soon caught up to a small group of "Type 5" Red Crossbills on the roadside, where Andrew realized he forgot his memory card to record their calls. I decided to test my new camera on the awesome finches before us. While watching the Reds and waiting for Jason, White-winged Crossbills began flying over, singing on the wing. Of course, as soon as Jason arrived, the finches had moved on, and needed a slight bit of chasing. So we trekked farther up the road, and though we never saw another White-winged Crossbill, we got to hear them very well. In all, we had about a dozen White-winged Crossbills, 30ish "Type 5" Red Crossbills, at least one "Type 4" Red Crossbill, and a few probable "Type 3" Red Crossbills. A successful day of crossbilling, if I may say so myself.

Later, we journeyed down the mountain to Fruitgrower's Reservoir, where we saw Pintail, Sandhill Crane and the usual winter ducks, and on to Confluence Park. There, we had great looks at a flock of Barrow's Goldeneyes in the Gunnison River, as well as Ross's and Snow Geese on the main lake. A bit of searching also produced a Cackling Goose among the Canadas.

On the way back to Junction, we managed to turn up two more good birds - a Prairie Merlin at Cheney Reservoir (Mesa County) and a Swamp Sparrow at Corn Lake State Park (Mesa County). Overall, an excellent way to say goodbye to the February Blues.

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