We took a quick trip to Colorado for a family reunion. There wasn’t much time for hardcore birding, but we made a quick pass through Rocky Mountain National Park.
Moose are always a treat to see, provided you are a respectful distance away.
Elk are seemingly everywhere in the park. This young bull was rather shy, which I was grateful for since I needed to walk down the path where he was lounging.
This large bull didn’t even bother looking at people. He was quite comfortable where he was.
The main target of my visit to the park was White-tailed Ptarmigan. This species is notorious for walking right up to non-birders, but often proves a challenge for those actually trying to see it. I have searched for this species in Rocky Mountain NP on several previous occasions, as well as at Glacier NP and Mt. Rainier NP. I finally connected with this bird by hiking to a site where they had been reported consistently in recent days and then scanning the tundra for about half an hour. She was quite far away, and I couldn’t get closer without leaving the trail and damaging the fragile tundra, so I made do with a distant view of this female and her four babies. This is the first lifer I have seen since January of 2018, so I was thankful for any view at all.
After finding the ptarmigan, I stopped at a large snow field to look for Brown-capped Rosy-Finches. Two lifers in one morning was a little too much to hope for, but I did find this Horned Lark, which is always a treat.
By late morning, the traffic and crowds were becoming unbearable, an unfortunate result of this park’s popularity. So I didn’t have a chance to study the small furry critters that often present themselves at close range here.
The lodge where we stayed hosted lots of Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels. This is the same species found in Oregon, but they seemed less colorful in Colorado.
Yellow-bellied Marmots were quite vocal, and too shy to allow a close approach.
While they didn’t provide any photo opportunities, it was great to see and hear Cordilleran Flycatchers. Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were everywhere. It is always nice to experience different bird communities when traveling, even if birding is not your main goal. Now that I’m home, it’s time to start studying southbound shorebirds.