This quiet, clear morning, in the mountain shade, just as dog and I reached Coyote Canyon, a.k.a., “the gully,” a silent bird flitted up the trail in front of us. It was plain, but I glimpsed of a flash of white. “Could that’ve been a solitaire?” I asked myself. On our ascent, I caught sight of the bird again but couldn’t ID it.d
Three or four minutes and about a hundred yards later, I heard a faint, animated warbling song. It sounded like it was coming from the south slope above us. It also sounded familiar—like the song of a Townsend’s Solitaire. Too far up there, I thought, and memorized bits of the song to look up later.
Thirty seconds and maybe a dozen paces later, the direction of the song had changed. Now it came from behind us. I stopped, turned, scanned the treetops—and there, atop a juniper, perched a Townsend’s Solitaire. The bird was singing. Very, very softly, almost like a whisper.
I got a couple photos before it left its perch, and we continued up the gully and turned onto the deer trail. (Our daily route.) A few minutes later, I glanced down among the junipers until I found the solitaire’s tree. There it was perched there again. I couldn’t resist creeping down a different deer trail until I got near enough for another pic or two.
Pretty sure it’s the same bird I’ve seen there three or four other times the past several weeks. I really, really, like Townsend’s Solitaires.
Even so, my most thrilling sighting today happened earlier, on our short drive up to the trailhead: a Long-tailed Weasel, in its full-white winter coat (aside from black-tipped tail), dashing across the street in front of us and diving into a residential hedge.
Grandeur Peak Area List
Beginning at 8:58 a.m. (MST), I hiked several hundred feet up a mountain.
1. Black-billed Magpie**
2. House Finch*
3. Black-capped Chickadee*
4. Woodhouse’s Scrub-jay*
5. Rock Pigeon*
6. Spotted Towhee**
7. Townsend’s Solitaire
8. House Sparrow
**Voice only elsewhere