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WINGS Birding Tours – Information

Colorado: Lekking Grouse

Tour Information

Note: The information presented below has been extracted from our formal General Information for this tour.  It covers topics we feel potential registrants may wish to consider before booking space.    The complete General Information for this tour will be sent to all tour registrants and of course supplemental information, if needed, is available from the WINGS office.

ENTERING THE UNITED STATES: Non-U.S. citizens will need a valid passport and may need a tourist visa or visa waiver. Please consult your nearest U.S. Embassy or consulate for details. Canadian citizens need to carry proof of citizenship in the form of a passport. 

 COUNTRY INFORMATION: There is no U.S. Department of State Country Specific Travel Information for the USA.  You can access the UK Government Foreign Travel advice for the USA at https://www.gov.uk/foreign-travel-advice/usa , and the CIA World Factbook background notes on the United States at https://www.cia.gov/library/publications/the-world-factbook/geos/us.html .

PACE OF THE TOUR:  This tour involves several early mornings (with 4:30am starts), as viewing the display leks requires waking about two hours BEFORE sunrise for a quick breakfast and a drive to the lek. We’ll view the leks from the van or from controlled blinds and everyone will need to be relatively still and quiet for about two hours. During this time, the van must stay at the lek and people will NOT be able to get out. All of this is essential to reduce disturbance to the birds. 

After viewing the birds, we’ll return to the hotel to gather luggage (and a more complete breakfast) and then head toward the next destination, birding along the way. Typically, a day’s driving will total about 225 miles, sometimes on windy mountain roads. These drives will be broken by several birding stops, restroom breaks, etc. Walking will usually be on well-maintained trails or along roads, and will be less than a half mile in duration.  We will endeavor to have between 45 and 60 minutes “off’ each day before dinner, but most of the day will be spent in the field.

If the weather cooperates and roads are open, we’ll look for White-tailed Ptarmigan on the first full day. This could involve a short walk on steep and snowy terrain, at an elevation of 12000 feet. People will have the option of staying in the vans. 

HEALTH: Colorado has no serious health risks other than altitude. 

Altitude:   Starting on the first full day of the tour, we’ll be driving up to the highpoint of the tour, just above 12,000 feet. From this point we merely scan from a stationary position, but we may walk a short distance in snowy conditions.   Otherwise we’ll be at altitudes from 3000 to 8000 feet throughout.  The best defense is to stay hydrated and wear the right clothes (layers) for warmth.  

Smoking:  Smoking is prohibited in the vehicles or when the group is gathered for meals, checklists, etc. If you are sharing a room with a nonsmoker, please do not smoke in the room. If you smoke in the field, do so well away and downwind from the group. If any location where the group is gathered has a stricter policy than the WINGS policy, that stricter policy will prevail. 

CLIMATE: April is a dynamic time of year in Colorado and nearly every type of weather is possible, from heavy snow to clear blue sky and mid-70s (F). It is possible for it to be 70ºF, sunny and calm, only for the temperature to plummet to around 20ºF with heavy snowfall, all in a period of two or three hours! You will need to be prepared for a wide range of weather conditions. Typical highs range in the 50s and 60s (F), with lows in the upper 20s and low 30s (F). Lows in the single digits (F) are rare, but not impossible. Early mornings spent at leks may be particularly cold. Snow is likely; Denver averages about nine inches for all of April. Rain and snow is possible at anytime. Given this, it is very important to dress in layers (see notes below). 

ACCOMMODATIONS: We will be staying at standard, comfortable motels and/or lodges throughout the tourAs of 2015 most of our hotels offer free wifi access, although the service is slow in Walden and Wray. 

FOOD:  We’ll eat in a variety of local restaurants where the food will in most cases be American standard.  Some examples include an Italian restaurant in Denver, steakhouse in Gunnison and Mexican restaurant in Craig.  Breakfasts are generally taken in our hotels (continental plus), and lunches will be in local or chain sandwich stores or cafes. 

WINGS tours are all-inclusive and no refunds can be issued for any tour meals participants choose to skip. 

Food Allergies / Requirements: We cannot guarantee that all food allergies can be accommodated at every destination. Participants with significant food allergies or special dietary requirements should bring appropriate foods with them for those times when their needs cannot be met. Announced meal times are always approximate depending on how the day unfolds. Participants who need to eat according to a fixed schedule should bring supplemental food. Please contact the WINGS office if you have any questions. 

TRANSPORTATION: We will be traveling by leader-driven 15 [or 12] passenger window van or minivan, depending on the group size. When using 15-passenger window vans, we will take a maximum of seven passengers plus the leader/driver. Participants should be able to ride in any seat in tour vehicles and will be expected to change seats daily.

Updated: 12 May 2015