If my six hours in Rocky Mountain National Park had produced great views of elk, they had been much less productive as regards birds. I had seen remarkable few - and most were birds I had already seen earlier in the year in Utah, such as White-crowned Sparrows, American Crows and Black-billed Magpies.
In the woodland areas, where the lighting was very difficult for photos, all I spotted were several Northern Flickers, Hairy Woodpeckers and my first Steller's Jays of 2010.
The bird below had me puzzled for a minute, until it flew off in a blaze of blue. It was a Mountain Bluebird, another new year bird.
While birds were few, small mammals were plentiful. Squirrels were busy in the trees while Chipmunks begged for handouts at several of the roadside pull-outs.
An hour's stop at the Beaver Meadows Visitor Center, just outside the park gates, was more productive for birds. Steller's Jays and White-crowned Sparrows were everywhere - but difficult to photograph!
Western Bluebirds were almost as uncooperative.
Mountain Chickadees were impossible - until one decided to check out my picnic table.
By far the most numerous birds were White-breasted Nuthatches, another new species for 2010. At one point, there were six or seven of them bustling around me.
A Final Site
On my way back to Denver, I stopped in for a quick walk around the Rocky Mountain Arsenal NWR, where I had seen a good selection of birds a couple of years earlier. Unfortunately, I wasn't so lucky this time.
The Visitor Center area had Northern Flickers, Black-capped Chickadees and House Finches, while Ladora Lake had only a Ring-billed Gull, two Canada Geese and a handful of Double-crested Cormorants.
The grassland areas were busy with prairie dogs but the only birds I spotted were Mourning Doves, Western Meadowlarks, Black-billed Magpies, an American Kestrel and a Swainson's Hawk.