View from the Lily Lake area to the northwest
Osprey over Lake Estes

Near the end of April, we decided to look for Williamson's Sapsuckers, newly returned from their winter vacation in Mexico.

Our first stop was at Lily Lake where we enjoyed a nice walk with stunning views of Meeker and Long's Peak, along with the Continental Divide views to the northwest.

We didn't find any of our target bird, so we headed back to town and stopped by Lake Estes. We watched an Osprey hunting and hoped to see (and photograph) him fishing, but it didn't happen. We also enjoyed watching the cute Pygmy Nuthatch in the pines of the Lake Estes bird sanctuary.

Pygmy Nuthatch

We went home for a late lunch before heading into RMNP to look for Sapsuckers along the Cub Lake Trail.

While we again came up empty handed on the Williamson's, we did see other woodpeckers, along with a Yellow-bellied Marmot and a bull elk with stubby antlers in velvet.

Yellow-bellied Marmot

Red-naped Sapsucker
Late in the day we noticed an unidentified bird fly high into a pine tree. Then came the unmistakable drumming overhead. We waited below the tree for him to pop into view, our necks getting sore from looking up constantly.

Our patience paid off and he finally flew down low enough that we could see who was making all the noise, a Red-naped Sapsucker -- the first we'd ever seen. He didn't stay long, and after exchanging "words" in flight with another woodpecker he was off.

Red-naped Sapsucker: now you see him...

Hairy Woodpecker
The newcomer was a busy little Hairy Woodpecker, who put on quite a show for us right along the trail. Even when a group of rather loud schoolchildren filed by, he continued drilling into the aspens without taking notice.


That afternoon we also enjoyed taking note of our first Townsend's Solitaire, with a melodious warble that stands out more than the little gray bird itself.

Townsend's Solitaire
As happens so often when exploring nature, you don't find something you were looking for, but what you do find is often unexpected, new, and exciting. We left the Cub Lake trail for home with smiles on our faces.

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