North Inlet Bird Walk with the Grand County Wilderness Group
June 21, 2010
Until the 8th Annual Granby Christmas Bird Count last January, I never paid attention to birds. I didn’t watch for them or listen to them. Now, I want to be able to identify every bird I see. Each morning I drive past the ponds in front of the Inn at Silvercreek and laugh outloud at the Pelicans sticking their butts in the air as they dive for fish. They are funny looking with their wide, flat bills and big orange pouches.
While vacationing in Florida in May I wanted to know every bird I saw. There were red-tailed hawks and sand pipers and many others I couldn’t identify.
My Uncle Tim grew tired of all my bird questions and asked, “Are you sure you want all your grey matter filled with names of birds?” I replied, “Yes, Yes, I do.” Just then, a turkey vulture flew over the backyard pool.
I can identify a few birds such as black capped chickadees and nuthatch, but nothing else. When the Grand County Wilderness Group organized a birding adventure at North Inlet trail in Grand Lake, I signed up.
Armed with all the accoutrements of a birding student: binoculars, pen, paper and camera, I arrived at the trailhead, ready to learn everything I could from Stephen and Christine Lee of Hot Sulphur Springs.
The Lee’s are birding experts, and know County Wilderness Group’s (GCWG) President, Al Rothenbach, from their days with the Chicago Audubon Society. I’m going to learn alot.
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We see broad-tailed hummingbirds with their bullet sound. I learn they are most active in April and May. We watch them through binoculars perched on tree branches. We see warbling vireos which are hard to locate due to their coloring being the same as aspens. Their song is similar to a robin, high pitched, thready, according to Petersen’s guide – Stephen’s bird bible. We see many sparrows flying through the air and crossing our path. We watch a pair of Wilson warblers nesting in the willows and admire their black caps, bright yellow underparts, and beady eyes.
Christine points out Pine Siskins with their yellow wings. Stephen can hear a bird in the distance and know what it is, my ultimate goal. I think I finally know what a robin sounds like since they are plentiful throughout the hike.
Stephen advises that in birding you must “hear the song, look for the movement.” Christine says the best time to look for birds is the springtime and in the morning; the birds are louder because they want to attract a mate. By summer, birds are nesting and don’t want predators finding them. This morning is the first day of sun after a long period of clouds. The birds are as joyful as we are to see the sun.
That afternoon, just a few hours after the bird walk, I am walking my dogs and trying to remember the names of the birds I see and hear: robins, swallows, red-tail hawk, bluebirds, and a hummingbird whizzes by me.
I feel more in tune with where I live when I can identify the birds I see. As I watch the swallows and blackbirds fly around, their antics make me laugh and fill my walk with music.
So when I see oil-soaked pelicans on the news my heart breaks when just minutes before I am laughing at the beautiful white pelicans in the pond. I Google “The Gulf Oil Spill How You Can Help” and hope everyone is doing what they can to help all the animals effected by the disaster. Please visit http://www.audubon.org for ideas on how to help.
Stephen and Christine will lead a hike in Hot Sulphur Springs on July 8, location and time to be determined. View the GCWG website for more details: http://www.gcwg.org
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