Going Back to California

Saturday, May 14
After arriving in the Denver area we set about visiting several NWRs and other locations. First up was Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR where we drove the eleven-mile wildlife drive, and got out and walked around a large pond. At this pond we saw our very first canvasback and then another first, a western tanager. Other birds included a Bullock’s oriole, Canada geese with goslings, Red wing blackbirds, western meadowlark, and a western kingbird. This NWR also had prairie dogs and bison. It is known for black footed ferrets, but we didn’t see any.

Sunday, May 15
This morning we hit Rocky Flats NWR first. We hiked a little ways along a trail and mostly saw meadowlarks. We also saw some versper sparrows acting kinda odd. We weren’t sure if it was some strange mating ritual, territorial behavior, or fledgling issues. But we think it was mating rituals. The female was definitely wanting to hook up with the male, but he seemed irritated by her and wasn’t having it. Sort of the opposite of what we have witnessed with other birds in the past.

Our next stop was at Two Ponds NWR, a small, unique refuge in an urban setting. We hiked both loops on the east side and saw the usual assortment of urban birds.

From there we visited the Carolyn Holmberg Rock Creek Farm Preserve. Before getting out of the truck, Alan mentioned a new bird he hoped to see. We walked around to the base of the lake that was close to the parking lot and talked to a woman who was very intent on taking some pictures of that very bird – the Wilson’s phalarope. It is a pretty shore bird, about the size of a stilt, but shorter. We hiked the path further and saw spotted sandpiper, killdeer, western grebes, ruddy ducks, rock pigeons, and a pair of nesting bald eagles.

Wilson's pharalope

We decided to drive on up to Rocky Mountain National Park to get a stamp in our “new” NPS book, and drive around for a quick look-see. We saw elk, moose, and big horn sheep.

Next up was Metzger Farm, which was recommended to us by the woman at the preserve – she’d mentioned a small heronry. I sent Alan on without me to give my sore hip a rest. He found the heronry, and also saw some magpies.

Monday, May 16
We drove from Denver to Salt Lake City, Utah to overnight, then headed to Reno, Nevada for another overnight.

Tuesday, May 17
Along the way to Reno we stopped at the Bonneville Salt Flats where I took a few photos.

After we checked into our hotel outside of Reno, we had dinner at the Sasquatch Tavern and Grill, a fun dive of a place with great food and service.

After dinner we drove a mile west to visit Crystal Peak Park, a pretty country park. The birds were abundant here and we saw three new birds; California quail, red-breasted sapsucker, and a western wood peewee.

Wednesday, May 18
After breakfast at The Original Mel’s Diner, we headed back to Crystal Peak Park and spent 2 hours hiking there. This time we got much better photos of the quail and sapsucker. Alan also admitted he needed the 100-400mm lens as he agreed that the 600mm lens was better on a tripod. I made a phone call to Action Camera located just outside of Sacramento and we drove there to pick up Alan’s new lens, and a couple more SD cards.

Next we drove to the John Muir (one of my heroes, along with Ansel Adams) National Historic Site and toured that location. I purchased three books of his writings when we were done.

From there we visited the Rosie the Riveter National Monument.