Twelve of us braved periodic rain, trail-side hail from the prior afternoon, slippery roots, and muddy creek crossings as we wended our way up the Silver Dollar Lake trail Saturday morning. Bird activity was fairly minimal, and we came away having tallied only fourteen species (see list below). Those that we got the best looks at were engaged in feeding recently fledged youngsters – Yellow-rumped Warblers and White-crowned Sparrows.
So, we found other ways to entertain ourselves. Luckily we had some rather nonchalant rodents close at hand that provided excellent views – Pine Squirrels, Golden-mantled Ground Squirrels, Pikas, and Yellow-bellied Marmots. Pikas are an exceptionally cute member of the rabbit family. They are only about seven inches long, with no visible tail, little round ears, and have an emphatically loud squeak given from the talus slopes where they reside. They often sit hunched up on a boulder above their nearby piles of fresh hay, on which they feed during the winter. Marmots, on the other hand, also live in talus slopes, but they hibernate through the winter. These guys are surprisingly huge, being about eighteen inches long with their large bushy tail, and they can weigh up to ten pounds. They like to have a large boulder from which to survey their domain and periodically offer up their high-pitched alarm chirp – hence their other name of “whistling” marmot.
Finally, of course, we saw many wonderful flowers along the streams and in the tundra.
Silver Dollar Lake Trail, Jul 29, 2017
Hairy Woodpecker (Rocky Mts.) (Picoides villosus orius/icastus) 1
Northern Flicker (Red-shafted) (Colaptes auratus [cafer Group]) 2
Gray Jay (Perisoreus canadensis) 2
Steller’s Jay (Interior) (Cyanocitta stelleri [diademata Group]) 1
Common Raven (Corvus corax) 2
Mountain Chickadee (Poecile gambeli) 4
Red-breasted Nuthatch (Sitta canadensis) 1
Brown Creeper (Certhia americana) 1
American Robin (Turdus migratorius) 1
Yellow-rumped Warbler (Audubon’s) (Setophaga coronata auduboni) 4
Chipping Sparrow (Spizella passerina) 1
Dark-eyed Junco (Gray-headed) (Junco hyemalis caniceps) 5
White-crowned Sparrow (oriantha) (Zonotrichia leucophrys oriantha) 8
Pine Siskin (Spinus pinus) 2