SE Colorado Birding

Birding and discussion: A conservation-oriented birding blog that emphasizes low-impact birding and sustainable birding practices together with the enjoyment of birds. Southeast Colorado offers a diversity of habitats which provide premiere birding opportunities. Save Sabal Palm

Wednesday, February 07, 2007

N. Flickers roosting in Tunnel Drive tunnels

I tried unsuccessfully to post this last night but the blogspot system wouldn't take it. Yesterday the high temp in Canon City rose to a balmy 70 degrees F!! This is back to normal as in past winters we would get awful cold days but would rebound to the 60's or 70's to give us a break.

I took a hike, literally, up Tunnel Drive trail which is a great birding and scenic location on the west end of Canon City. Rufous-crowned Sparrows, a rarity in Colorado, are resident here. Ladder-backed Woodpeckers and Greater Roadrunners have been seen there in the past and just recently a Golden-crowned Sparrow was reported below the trail. I enjoy hiking up the trail in winter as I have seen more than 10 American Dippers in the Arkansas River that lies from 200-500 feet below this 2 mile trail. Unfortunately because it is a the mouth of the Royal Gorge, this steep canyon acts as a wind tunnel sending strong winds down the trail and upping the windchill.

So yesterday afternoon the chinook winds that warmed the area had died down I hiked up the trail. It was so nice I did so without my coat (and I'm a real whimp for being cold). Since it was late in the day I only made the first mile of the trail so only saw 3 American Dippers. However, what was really interesting was that I flushed 3 Northern Flickers in the tunnels that the trail goes through. Two of the flickers were on the ceiling and one was on a wall. As I have flushed a few flickers in these tunnels in the past, I feel pretty sure they are using them for sheltered roosting areas.

Also of interest were 15 Common Goldeneye that went at least a half mile into the Royal Gorge canyon. Due to the recent big snows that have melted on top of the west slope water being moved down the river to the reservoirs (this is standard procedure to fill the reservoirs in winter), there was deep enough water for them to dive--something that hasn't been possible in this stretch of the river for some time due to the drought.

I also saw one Rufous-crowned Sparrow at 5:15 pm, which is fairly late for this species (tho I have seen them late in the day on a few occasions in the past).


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