· La Plata
By far the largest reservoir in the area, the birding potential of this massive lake varies as widely as its water level. If the water is low during the spring and fall the extensive mudflats can be excellent for shorebirds. When the water level is high, or during the late fall and early spring, ducks can be abundant and rarities like Barrow’s Goldeneye, Common Loon, and Red-breasted Merganser are possible. Gulls and terns could be found at any water level; spring and fall are best. Waterbirds aren’t the only reason to come to McPhee. Extensive forest of many types surround the lake. At the House Creek Recreation Area, and along the road, a mixture of ponderosa pine woodland and pinyon-juniper forest provide the potential for a wide variety of birds. Look for MacGillivray’s and Grace’s Warblers, Red-naped and Williamson’s Sapsuckers, Flammulated and Northern Saw-whet Owls, and Hammond’s Flycatcher in the ponderosa woodland, and Black-throated Gray Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Juniper Titmouse, and Gray Flycatcher in the pinyon-juniper woodland. In the sage flats around the western part of the reservoir look for Sage Thrasher and Sage Sparrow, as well as raptors during the winter months. Finally, keep an eye out for mammals throughout; black bear, Abert’s squirrel, Gunnison’s prairie-dog, and deer and elk are all possible.
Habitat: Pond/Lake/Reservoir, Ponderosa Forest, Aspen Grove, Scrub Oak Forest
Directions: From the center of Dolores take CR 31 (FR 526) due north to bird the ponderosa areas on this plateau. Take a left onto FR 528 about six miles north of Dolores to get to the House Creek Recreation Complex (campground).
Delorme: 85 A4, 75 D4
Roads of Colorado: 129 D3
Dates of Access: Open all year
Hours: Daylight hours
Ownership: US Bureau of Reclamation
Admission: State Parks Pass
Lodging: Fee camping
Handicapped Access: Handicap accessible restrooms/Some viewing from car
» Visit the website for McPhee Reservoir
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