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Old Tuesday 1st November 2016, 20:55   #1
Barr Tender
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RFI: Best week for Colima Warbler at Big Bend NP

Hi-- we're thinking of chasing the Colima Warbler this spring. I understand they arrive at Big Bend in April. I assume that when eggs hatch and parents are busy feeding young is when they'll be most active and visible. Anyone have an idea what weeks might be most likely for that? First week in May, maybe...?

Thanks in advance....
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Old Tuesday 1st November 2016, 21:40   #2
Andrew Whitehouse
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I saw Colima Warbler at Big Bend on 21st April last year. Not sure if they're quite at their peak then but they should be around in reasonable numbers. One thing I'd definitely advocate is getting into the right areas early in the morning. They seem to go very quiet by the afternoon and are very hard to find if they're not singing.
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Old Wednesday 2nd November 2016, 17:14   #3
SanAngelo
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Park data has the bird arriving mid April and leaving in September. My records show I ticked the bird on the 1st of May.

The hike to Boot Spring is approximately 5 miles one way. From the Spring to the South Rim is nearly a 1-1/2 mile out, 3 miles out and back at the short point. Or you can take the hike along the Rim, a 5 mile loop back to Boot Spring. You're up there, you may as well go to the Rim.

My record show I ticked the Lucifer's Hummingbird on the 8th of May while hiking the Blue Creek Trail.

The combination of the Basin/Pinnacles Trail-Boot Spring Trail-Colima Trail-Blue Creek Trail should be considered if you're fit, up for the hike. I say this with the intent of making the most of your trip in the least amount of time. You would need a shuttle or a vehicle drop in order to make it happen.

From the Basin to Boot Spring is about 5 miles. Boot Spring via Colima Trail to Blue Creek Trail overlook is about 2 miles (without going to the South Rim). From the Blue Creek Trail overlook to the Blue Creek Trail head at Castolon Road is about 5-1/2 miles. If you were to add an out-and-back hike to view the South Rim you would add about 3-1/2 miles.

On average, I hike at about 1-1/2 to 2 miles an hour which includes stopping/viewing times. Obviously faster with little viewing/stopping.

On the 1st of May 2017 you'll have 13 hours of daylight. Sunrise is at 7:11am.

At the risk of imposing, PM me when it gets time to make your trip. I'm always up for a good hike, I would gladly join your party if you want company.

Good luck my friend...!!
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Old Thursday 3rd November 2016, 00:12   #4
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Good info, thank you both.

Alas, our hiking days, while hopefully not totally behind us, ain't what they used to be. My girlfriend and I were once quite fit, and I was an avid backpacker. I shattered an ankle 12 years ago and it's never been the same, so distance aggravates arthritis. My girlfriend is to undergo hip replacement surgery in December. Hopefully she'll be bouncin' around by May, but she can barely walk without pain now. So while we're up for a good hike mentally, a 10-mile day is something we're going to have to evaluate as a game-time decision. If the birds are only reliably view-able with that much hiking involved, we'll have to make sure we're up to it before we head down. We'd probably be flying from Denver (I guess El Paso's closest) and renting a car.
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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 11:42   #5
Hamhed
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My wife and I hiked up and saw the Colima on May 12th of 2011. That was a terrible year for wildlife due to prolonged drought and wildfires.
I don't remember the trail names but we went clockwise from the trailhead. The Colima wasn't seen until we were almost finished the search so had we hiked the opposite direction, it would have been a much shorter walk. Hope that makes sense!

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Old Friday 4th November 2016, 17:51   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Hamhed View Post
I don't remember the trail names but we went clockwise from the trailhead.
Yes sir, that's how I outlined it above; Pinnacles Trail-Boot Spring Trail-Colima Trail....and in your case coming down off the Laguna Meadow Trail to the Basin. Instead of an out-and-back or up-and-down you cut about a mile off the hike. If you went up and down on the Laguna Meadow Trail you cut off about 2 miles on the hike.

As you say, the Colima Warbler was near the end of your search; I'm guessing where the Boot Spring Trail/Colima Trail/Boot Canyon Trail intersect.

The Colima Trail is the cut through to the Laguna Meadow Trail. By taking that you bypassed Boot Canyon (and Trail) as well as the South Rim Trails (Northeast and Southeast Rim Trails) and Northeast, South, Southwest Rim view.

The Laguna Meadow Trail is a nice hike; different view, different birds, and more likelihood of running into deer and their predators. My records show I tick a Townsend's Solitare at the Laguna West spur.

Glad you got your bird..!!
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Old Friday 25th November 2016, 10:20   #7
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Originally Posted by Barr Tender View Post
Good info, thank you both.

Alas, our hiking days, while hopefully not totally behind us, ain't what they used to be. My girlfriend and I were once quite fit, and I was an avid backpacker. I shattered an ankle 12 years ago and it's never been the same, so distance aggravates arthritis. My girlfriend is to undergo hip replacement surgery in December. Hopefully she'll be bouncin' around by May, but she can barely walk without pain now. So while we're up for a good hike mentally, a 10-mile day is something we're going to have to evaluate as a game-time decision. If the birds are only reliably view-able with that much hiking involved, we'll have to make sure we're up to it before we head down. We'd probably be flying from Denver (I guess El Paso's closest) and renting a car.
It's definitely a reasonably strenuous hike. Coming downhill via the Pinnacles trail is especially hard on ankles, knees and hips because of having to step down. The Laguna Meadows trail is longer but less steep.
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Old Tuesday 9th May 2017, 01:13   #8
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Thanks again to all for the advance info. "The rest of the story" is that we did head down to Big Bend NP last weekend. With a cold front pushing down from the snowstorm our home state of Colorado was experiencing, the weather down there was mercifully cool and nicer than we were expecting. The campground was pretty full, and the site we got was only available for two nights, not the three we planned on, so we had to try for Boot Springs the first morning after we got there.

Up at 5, hiking before six (in the pitch dark with headlamps), we started at a good pace on the Laguna Meadows trail. Being old and decrapitated, our pace slowed along the switchbacks. We thought we heard at least one Colima along the trail when we first gained the plateau at the meadows. In retrospect, this was correct. More time there might've saved us a couple of miles.

We did finally get a nemesis bird up there, at the top of the third set of switchbacks, that had been tormenting us with constant announcements of its presence, and finally showed itself for a few minutes-- the Black-chinned Sparrow. A thrill to get that monkey off our back, and add it to the Varied Bunting as the second lifer of this trip-- our fifth to Texas to bird.

Having gained the Colima campsites and started to descend, we saw a mixed flock of warblers, and heard another Colima on the way down to the Boot Springs/Pinnacle trail junction. A couple on their way up told us they'd just watched a "pair" (2 males, actually) of Colimas by the old barn, just South of that intersection.

So we hoofed it over there and found the birds! We watched them for 10 or 15 minutes until a guided group of 8 or 10 people showed up, spread out, unpacked lunches, and started chatting, immediately driving the birds back into the brush. They did eventually become active again, affording us more great views of this hard-earned lifer.

As bernerjc mentioned above, the Pinnacles trail down was a total knee-burner. In restrospect, I wish we'd spent the extra easy mile back uphll on the Colima trail to take the Laguna Meadows trail back down. Would've been much easier on the joints. But getting the bird definitely took some of the sting out of that!

We also saw the Black Hawk on its nest at Rio Grande Village, the White-collared Seedeater in Laredo, and the Bronzed Cowbird and Groove-billed Ani in San Benito. Missed out (again) on the Aplomado Falcon. Good trip in all, though, and 7 new lifers!
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