Date: 2/2/18 12:48 pm From: Joe Roller <jroller9...> Subject: [cobirds] Mountain Bluebirds at Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR and a newly opened Auto Tour route.
There is an nice, paved auto tour that was opened at Rocky Mt Arsenal NWR last October. I checked it out and found a few raptors: 3 Bald Eagles, 5 Red-tails, 1 Ferrug Hawk and a Prairie Falcon.
I toured there for less than an hour, but was surprised to see only one Western Meadowlark and no Horned Larks.
Plus two Mountain Bluebirds. Although that species was found here and there in Colorado during the winter, these males were the first reported to eBird in the Metro area so far this year.
The route I followed was the newly opened Auto Tour, which covers a lot of untrammeled land on the north side of the Arsenal. AND you get to cross First Creek twice - once on a sturdy bridge, then closer to its "headwaters," through a little swale.
This is a one-way drive and for much of the route, you are advised to stay in your vehicle, so as not to bother the local herbivore - *Bison bison, *which roam unfenced. (I guess the bison could reciprocate and bother you, too). One shaggy beast was right on the shoulder of the road, which made it seem more like Yellowstone than Genesee Park.
Being alone out there on the prairie was inspiring, in a landscape little altered by "us." I usually need to get up to the Pawnee Grasslands to get that same feeling.
Joe Roller, Denver
PS IF you go, please compile a separate checklist for the new eBird hotspot, "Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR--East Auto Tour."