Date: 5/7/18 11:12 am
From: victor <victor...> [wsbn] <wsbn-noreply...>
Subject: [wsbn] Archuleta birding (long & late)
In light of the bad weather last week, I decided to bird in Archuleta County primarily in hopes of finding spring migrants - especially shorebirds. I headed out from Glenwood early Thursday morning. Travel from Minturn to Leadville was awful. Vail Pass had been closed and Battle Mountain and Tennessee Pass probably should have been too. The good news: travel further south was easy - and bad travel could mean good birding.

I got to Pagosa Springs about 2 PM. I headed out to the three Dunnegan area ranch ponds out Piedra Road (Cty 600). My best birds were Blue-winged Teal (2), Lesser Yellowlegs (3), Wilson’s Phalarope (6) and Long-billed Dowitchers (11). There were also Spotted Sandpipers, White-faced Ibis, Am. Avocets, Killdeer, Canada Geese, Gadwall, Am. Wigeon, Mallard, Cinnamon and Green-winged Teal, Northern Shoveler, Redheads, Ring-necked Ducks, Common Merganser, Ruddy Ducks, Western Grebes, and Pied-billed Grebes.

After birding a couple of other sites with similar birds, I headed to the Windsurfing Beach at Navajo State Park. I got there about 5 pm. Not a vehicle or person in sight. The lake was very low and there were extensive wet mudflats. As I walked down to the mudflats, a group of peeps flew in - 6 Least Sandpipers and 1 Baird’s Sandpiper. There were also over a 1000 Western Grebes, Ring-billed Gulls, Franklin’s Gulls (15), Bonaparte’s Gulls (3) and one California Gull, several Great Blue Herons, White-faced Ibis, and .

Friday morning I was back at the Windsurfing Beach at 6 am. Still no vehicles or people. However, not one shorebird. However, the campground had Northern Mockingbirds (3), Loggerhead Shrike, Lark and Vesper Sparrows, Say’s Phoebes. I also birded the Mooring Bay with no greater luck on migrants. At Sambrito Marsh, I saw Norther Harrier, Brewer’s, Lark and Vesper Sparrows and Virginia Warbler.

At the Piedra Bridge Natural Walk, I saw Black Phoebe, Yellow-rumps, Juniper Titmouse, Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, Chipping Sparrows, Western Kingbirds, Green-tailed Towhee, and my FOS Yellow-breasted Chat.

I went back to Pagosa the one way via Edith and Chromo (700 Road, 500 Road, 542 Road, 359 Road, and 391 Road). Great habitat. Lots of PJ and Sagebrush.. Did find Cassin’s Kingbird, Plumbeous Vireo, Rock Wren, Western Bluebird, Lewis’ Woodpecker, Downy Woodpecker. No luck with Sagebrush Sparrow or Gray Vireo.

Had to head home on Saturday but decided to give the Windsurfing Beach one more shot. Got there at daybreak again (6 am). 30 plus vehicles and tents and beer cans everywhere. Good luck: not one person was up and moving. Who said fishermen were out early. Bad luck: no new shorebirds. Too much good migrating weather. Amazing sight. One mudflat pint with three fully adult plumaged gulls standing next to each other in great morning sunlight- one Ring-billed, one California, and one Herring. The Herring was totally unexpected and surprising this time of year. Loved how the California stood above the ring-billed and the Herring stood above the California on his pink legs.

Headed happily for my 5 1/2 hour trip home. 9 county birds over 48 hours.

Vic Zerbi
Join us on Facebook!