I got no sleep last night before leaving for the Dayton Airport for a 5:23 am flight. I chose this flight because it was scheduled to arrive in Denver shortly after 9:00 am and it did. I slept on both legs of the flight from Dayton, OH to Charlotte, NC and from Charlotte to Denver. After arrival in Denver, I drove to Gunnison, south and west from Denver, to be in position for the dawn display of the Gunnison Sage Grouse the next morning. I got to Gunnison at about 4:00 pm after several stops in Colorado Springs and in Pueblo to check on a book that I thought I might need about birding in Colorado. I didn't find it.
On the way to Gunnison, I saw several Brewer's Blackbirds, mostly flying along the highways. Brewer's Blackbirds, new for the year, are the common blackbird in the west and in Colorado but are rare in Ohio. I was able to identify these birds at highway speed, because they are all black, no red on the wing as in Red-winged Blackbirds, also seen along the highways. They are smaller than Common Grackles, a few of which were also seen flying near the highways on the way to Gunnison, and longer tailed than Red-winged Blackbirds. Later during this visit, I confirmed that my highway speed identification is correct.
I checked into a motel in Gunnison and then got some dinner to carry with me and went to the Gunnison Sage Grouse viewing site, which is about 19 miles east of Gunnison. This would also be a trial run for early tomorrow morning. I had been to this site at least twice before, once in the '90's and as recently as 2009. I had passed the entry road on the way to Gunnison. I planned to stay at the viewing location, Waunita Watchable Wildlife site, until dusk to see if the grouse show up at dusk. Usually, dawn is better, but sometimes they show up before dark in the evening. I did not see any Gunnison Sage Grouse come to the lek on Tuesday evening. I was also extremely tired and dozed off several times. However, I did hear and see Western Meadowlarks, also new for the year, in the meadow at the lek site.
I returned to Gunnison and my motel room. I needed to be at the viewing site by 5:00 am, and hoped to be there earlier than that to sit in my rental vehicle and hope that the light will be sufficient to actually see any birds that are at the lek.
The details about this site, viewing protocol and pictures showing what is actually seen while sitting quietly in your vehicle can be found at http://www.siskadee.org/view.htm, under Gunnison Sage-grouse Viewing.
Brewer's Blackbird and Western Meadowlark increase the year's total to 411.