Birdwalks in RMNP

Red Crossbill

Twice this summer we managed to join one of the morning guided bird walks sponsored by Rocky Mountain National Park. We highly recommend this free and easy activity for anyone interested in birds and nature!

The first walk we did was in June and started at the Cub Lake Trailhead. It was led by volunteer naturalist Rich Gilliland, and we were doubly fortunate to have local photographer and birder Richard Hahn along.
The second walk in August started from another rich birding area, Upper Beaver Meadows, where we saw our first Red Crossbill.

Pygmy Nuthatch

Lincoln's Sparrow

Cow Creek Trail Birding

Scott Roederer's excellent book "Birding Rocky Mountain National Park" brought the Cow Creek area to our attention as a birding hotspot. We've been on that trail a number of times, either en route to Bridal Veil Falls or to hike the 12 mile loop around Lumpy Ridge.

By replacing our destination focused mindset with one of observation, plus the help of awesome 15x image-stabilized binoculars (thanks again, Luke!) and a 100-400mm telephoto lens, we're seeing and photographing a whole world of birds that were previously missed.

On our first time back to Cow Creek this year, we spotted a Western Tanager almost immediately. We've added two other new species to our life list here too - the Williamson's Sapsucker and the Olive-sided Flycatcher. One evening we even saw an Osprey perched on high branch of a dead tree overlooking the creek.

This early June hike also included a favorite wildflower, the Calypso orchid or Fairy Slipper (Calypso bulbosa). 

Northern Pygmy Owls have been seen nesting in the area and we'll keep looking. Until then, we hope you enjoy these photos!

Western Tanager
Olive-sided Flycatcher

Williamson's Sapsucker
Calypso Orchid (aka Fairy Slipper)