Monday, October 13, 2014

Paint The Wind


As the year begins to wind down, we head into the heart of autumn.  Today we take you to the southwestern regions of Colorado state to search for the beautiful Black-billed Magpie. 


Earlier this year, we, the band of birders, tried to find this bird in the 4 Corners region within the reservation town of Teec Nos Pos.  Unfortunately, we were unable to locate the birds, but on this epic road trip, we finally discovered at least one hanging out around the town. 

Spotted Towhee
Once we quickly located the bird(8 minutes!), we were off to Gunnison, Colorado for one of the most scenic autumn treks ever. Highway 50 right now is gorgeous!


The weather went from sun to rain to snow! What is a journey without a little adventure? 


Along the way, we stopped at watering holes and snapped pics of not only the birds but the amazing fall colors.  The brightly colored leaves swirled all around us as we inspected each site for that rare bird.

Mountain Bluebird
When life gets a bit....well....crazy, a road trip always seems to do the trick:)


Most of the birds in Colorado have already been seen this year in various parts of the country.  We were hoping to spot the endangered Gunnison's sage-grouse, but the weather had other plans.  However the addition of the Black-billed Magpie to the year list was great. 

Black-billed Magpie
Hunting season has begun and the hunters were out in FULL force.  The deer, pronghorn and elk kept their distances. While high up on a sage hillside, we noticed dark clouds approaching us. 



We were unsuccessful in our attempts to locate this grouse, but I now have a better understanding of their habitat.  However, having past experiences with a storm like the one approaching made us depart earlier than expected.


With our elevation and cold temps, I knew we weren't looking at rain in the forecast...... 



We high tailed it off the dirt roads before they became impassable and turned into mud and ice.  



The surreal autumn colors were blanketed by frost. There were several moments in whiteout conditions that had me at the edge of my seat. Winter had come.



We made it down the mountain and thankfully had an uneventful trip to Colorado Springs.  

Black-billed Magpie
Magpies still made their presence known and we really had fun observing these beauties.  They were very numerous and in most of my ebird reports while in Colorado. 



Our journey continues.  Check out the video below made from my cell phone over this past year.  It shows a bit of the Hwy 50 magic. 


Update on the owl from last week's post.  The bird is doing well and healing. It had a fractured humerus(the bone that attaches the wing to the body).  The appetite has come back and things are looking up. For more about birds from around the world, check out Wild Bird Wednesday



27 comments:

  1. These are absolutely wonderful landscapes.

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  2. Wow Chris - what beautiful landscape shots. Looks such a beautiful area :) A shame about the grouse but those views must have compensated! Thanks for the owl update so glad its doing well.

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  3. Muy bonitas imágenes.. Grandes paisajes y animales.. Un saludo..

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  4. Chris, congrats on the Magpie sighting. And I am sorry the snow ruined your Grouse plans.. Great new on the owl, I am glad it is recovering.. Happy birding!

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  5. Stunningly gorgeous landscapes even with the snow which I'm glad you didn't get trapped in. Seems Magpies don't have the best of reputations. The one walking reminds me of a crow/raven. Are they corvids? Happy to hear the owl is on the mend.
    LOVE that shot of Michael with the leaves.

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  6. Gorgeous scenery and amazing autumn colours. I love the magpie, it's a beautiful bird.

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  7. What a magnificent landscape ... fantastic autumn pictures.
    Love greetings, Karin

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  8. Oh Chris! How beautiful! I HAVE to go back in the Fall now! :-) Your photos are so gorgeous! I even saw quite a few magpies on my trip but never had an opportunity to get a good shot of one. Loved that you did, and also just loved the entire grouping of scenery shots from a place I so recently traveled. You did a much better job! I'm just going to have to stop more often on my trips. :-) Try harder.

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  9. The scenery is fantastically beautiful! I thoroughly enjoyed the photos.

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  10. So nice to see your pictures! Colorado is a beautiful place! Sounds like quite a trip!

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  11. Glad the owl is recovering. Marvellous scenery and critters in this post and loved the video.

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  12. Sounds like a great trip. Loving your birds a lot.

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  13. Great shots...it is indeed getting late in the season to be very high up on the mountain roads.... you never know what you'll encounter weather wise....

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  14. What beautiful scenic shots!

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  15. What a beautiful trip. Just enough snow to contrast with the dark mountains and the bright fall colors. Glad you traveled safely. Thanks for sharing.

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  16. Beautiful, absolutely beautiful. I only wish the image were uploaded a size larger. We so enjoyed our journey this same place 2 years ago. Thoroughly gorgeous!

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  17. Wonderful photos, Chris! The scenery is GREAT. I would love to see a magpie but they are not normally in my area.

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  18. Well Chris I have to say that your landscape photography outclassed the bird today.

    Did you know that our European Magpie Pica pica is almost identical to your Black-billed Magpie and is considered conspecific by many sources. The American Ornithologists' Union, however, splits as separate species?

    Also over here the magpie is a real pest and a voracious member of the crow family, destroying birds nests as well as taking young. It is of course all relative so good on you for enjoying the bird.

    Me I'd sooner see a Spotted Towhee anyday.

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  19. such beautiful landscapes and color! and a great mix of weather for you, too! :)

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  20. such a beautiful country and great shtosof it. :) Am nor sure about the magpie. Looks vary much like our every day magpie but the bill might differ a bit.

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  21. Great landscape - the colours are so rich.

    Cheers - Stewart M - Melbourne

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  22. Beautiful and scenic shots, very lovely birds.

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  23. Your photos are just outstanding--autumn is always a wonderland of scenery.

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  24. Hi Chris. Just getting back on track after time away birding.

    This last post of yours is a real eye-catcher - wonderful images with fabulous colors!

    Delighted to hear that the GHO is making good progress - such a magnificent bird!

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  25. Wow, very impressive photos and a great area to go.

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  26. You really dove into winter, Chris! Loved the video and the wonderful landscape shots. Such brilliant colors!

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Thanks for stopping by!