Friday, July 13, 2018

Western Bird Breeding Surveys, July 1 to 12, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Western Trip Continued: 2018

July 1

Temperatures were back to 82 degrees.  Winds 6-7 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

Terry and I drove down Gunnison County Road 38 an hour before sunrise.  A female with four young Gunnison Sage-Grouse walked along the road (north of the CR 38a intersection).  A singing Sagebrush Sparrow along CR 38 was quite a surprise.

We continued into Saguache County without any additional Gunnison Sage-Grouse sightings.

A Gray Flycatcher was encountered along CR 32.  No uncommon warblers appeared this trip (Chestnut-sided Warbler 10/17/2007).

No Least Flycatchers up found during a hike up the Neversink Trail today.

We stopped at several friends' ranches.  A Western Screech-Owl continued at private ranch #3.  No Yellow-billed Cuckoos have been heard/seen this year.

Nothing uncommon was found along the Waunita Hot Springs (road 884) in the late afternoon.  No owls were heard.

July 2

Only 82 degrees today, winds 7-8 mph with gusts to 18 mph.

We birded along Highway 135 from Gunnison to Almont, then Gunnison CR 742 to Taylor Park and Cottonwood Pass.  Campgrounds explored included: Cold Springs, Lodgepole, Spring Creek, Rivers End, and Lake View.

Nothing uncommon could be found on Taylor Park Reservoir (Gunnison).  A walk around Lake View Campgrounds found two pairs of American Three-toed Woodpeckers, six Band-tailed Pigeons a Veery and two Hermit Thrushes (calling).

The Gunnison County section of Cottonwood Pass added a Slate-colored Fox Sparrow, Red-naped Sapsuckers, a lone male Purple Martin, a Dusky Grouse and a White-tailed Ptarmigan to our trip list.  Earlier in the year, Jacob Washburn and Amy Davenport had found a White-tailed Ptarmigan in Chaffee County.

Owling was great this night.  Conditions included calm winds, an 85 percent waning moon.

Our count: 
Northern Pygmy-Owl (2, separate locations)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1, traditional nesting tree)
Flammulated Owls (4, three locations)

July 3

High temperature was 81 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 15 mph.

We drove up to Schofield Pass (Gunnison) this morning.  A strenuous hike near the summit eventually found a White-tailed Ptarmigan!

Other birds seen included a Williamson's Sapsucker, three Slate-colored Fox Sparrows, Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, an Orange-crowned Warbler and Brewer's Sparrows.

The area has been good for an interesting hummingbird sighting or two.  Today a Rufous Hummingbird was the only one encountered.

We drove up Kebler Pass in the afternoon.  Two Purple Martins were relocated at their usual location.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was around the cemetery area as were a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers.  A Dusky Grouse crossed the road just to the east.

After dark, we only could find one, Flammulated Owl (responded to our recordings).  Winds were quite high this night.

July 4

Temperatures a consistent high of 84 degrees. Winds 4-5 mph with gusts to 10 mph.

Terry and I headed south of Highway 50 today as we took highway 149 and Sapinero Mesa (Gunnison CR 26).  The Pine and Conifer Forests are famous for their American Three-toed Woodpeckers.  Two Gunnison Sage-Grouse crossed CR 26 north of the Cutoff.

Sapinero Mesa BLM land added two American Three-toed Woodpeckers and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers to our day list. 

A pair of Black-throated Gray Warblers were seen near Gateview.  Grace's Warblers were again found near the Cutoff.

Half a dozen Pinyon Jays flew across the Alpine Tunnel Road.  Two Northern Pygmy-Owls called after dark (Gunnison CR 868).

We spent the whole night owling Alpine Corral, CR 26 & CR 30.  Beside hearing two Common Poorwills we counted:

Northern Pygmy-Owls (2 CR 26 locations)
Flammulated Owl (CR 26)
Flammulated Owls (2, CR 30)
bird of the night: Boreal Owl (CR 30)

July 5

High temperature of 84 degrees.  Winds at 10-11 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

Cimarron Pass was explored today.  Our stops today included Cimarron Wildlife Area and Fish Creek and Silver Jack Reservoirs.  Campgrounds included Big Cimarron, Beaver Lake, and Silver Jack. 

In no particular order (my tired mind escapes me today, fortunately I jotted down the bird sightings)

Cimarron Campgrounds: Dusky Grouse and Northern Saw-whet Owl 

Eight American Three-toed Woodpeckers eventually found along Cimarron Pass road.

Silver Jack Campgrounds: Hooded Warbler (fifth time in the last six years), Dusky Grouse (2), American Three-toed Woodpecker (1), Williamson's Sapsuckers (pair)

Northern Saw-whet Owls: one at Beaver Lake, two south of Big Cimarron.

Fish Creek Reservoirs: Flammulated Owl and Northern Pygmy-Owl 

We waited until dark at Cowboy Reservoir, which is very interesting to get to, even in a 4-wheel drive jeep.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl or two answered our recordings.

Birding day ended at Owl Pass: Boreal Owl responded to our recordings.  Unfortunately no White-winged Crossbills were encountered this trip.

July 6

An unbelievable 93 degrees, very hot for the mountains.  Winds were 12-13 mph with gusts to 25 mph.

Cinnamon Pass from Lake City

Nothing uncommon at Lake San Cristobel

Two Grace's Warblers, Broad-tailed & a Rufous Hummingbird at Mill Creek Campgrounds (Hinsdale)

Three American Three-toed Woodpeckers seen at Burrows Park Town site (Hinsdale)

Three Brown-capped Rosy Finches flew overhead at Cinnamon Pass summit.

Animas Forks Ghost Town: another American Three-toed Woodpecker, Rufous Hummingbird and Pine and Evening Grosbeaks.  No Long-eared Owls this trip

No owls heard as we backtracked to Engineer Pass

July 7

Hotter yet with a high of 96 degrees; what is happening?  Winds 10-11 mph with gusts to 26 mph.

Lake City to Ouray by way of Engineer Pass today.  4-wheel drive vehicle is a most get drive Engineer pass that goes along Henson Creek (especially the last six miles).  Again, sightings maybe out of order (notes taken):

A Boreal Owl responded to a recording played near Yellowstone Gulch north of Capitol City (Hinsdale County) about two hours before sunrise.

Nellie Creek trail (4-wheel drive): four American Three-toed Woodpeckers (male, female, young male & female).

Whitmore Falls is a short, strenuous hike.  It is known for Black Swift sightings of which none was found today.

Another four Brown-capped Rosy Finches and a Purple Martin flyovers at Engineer Pass summit.


Northern Saw-whet Owl at Poughkeepsie Gulch Road (Hinsdale)
Boreal Owl (rare!) North Fork Cutoff (San Juan County)

July 8

What a day makes.  High in Telluride was only 78 degrees.  Winds 2-3 mph with gusts to 7 mph.

NOTE: 4-wheel drive vehicle is necessary for many of the following roads.

We eventually birded in San Miguel County today.  From Ouray we took Ouray CR 361 (Yankee Boy Basin Road) to the Sneffels Creek Trail.  Stops along the way did not find any owls.

Two Black Swifts flew over the Waterfalls (Ouray).  Broad-tailed and Rufous Hummingbirds flew around Sneffels Ghost Town.  We also found Slate-colored Fox Sparrows, a MacGillivray's Warbler, Olive-sided Flycatcher and Gray Jays.

A Black Swift flew over Camp Bird (Ouray) as we drove onto Imogene Pass Road.  A lone Williamson's Sapsucker was at the base of the trail.

The highlight of the day was sighting a White-tailed Ptarmigan while we hiked up toward Ptarmigan Lake (Ouray).  

Imogene Pass is on the border of Ouray and San Miguel Counties.  Tomboy Ghost Town is reached shortly after entering San Miguel County.  HOWEVER, the Telluride side (San Miguel) was closed due to a rock slide.

We had to circle back to Ridgway and enter Telluride by way of Hwy 62 and Hwy 145.  No owling was conducted today due to heavy rains.  

July 9

Afternoon storms continued to keep the high temperature down to 78 degrees.  Winds 6-7 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

Still one of my favorite detours is to Alta Ghost Town (San Miguel County).  We started out several hours before sunrise.  I would not recommend that for anyone who has not driven the road before.  It was my fourth trip.  

We arrived at Alta Lakes on schedule about 1.5 hours before sunrise.  A Boreal Owl responded to our recordings.  We had also set up our two "owl listening stations" on the way up Forest Road 632.  Later we confirmed a Northern Pygmy-Owl calling (station #1)!

Two American Three-toed Woodpeckers, two Black Swifts and Slate-colored Fox Sparrow were also added to our day list!

The rest of the day was planned for our target bird search, a San Miguel County White-tailed Ptarmigan.  Sometimes fortune shines.  It took less than an hour for Terry to find one!  The Ptarmigan was a new county bird for both of us.

Not quite noon yet, we saved a day and drove Ophir Pass Road (planned for tomorrow).  The drive to the San Juan County Line is spectacular!  At times, the road is just a shelf.  At other times, we passed through Aspen Groves and Pine Forests.

Several Black Swifts flew overhead during the drive.  We stopped to watch a female Dusky Grouse escort three young across the road.

Other birds seen included an American Three-toed Woodpecker, Red-naped Sapsuckers, hummingbirds (Broad-tailed, Rufous and our first Calliope of the year) and two Brown-capped Rosy Finches.  It is a mystery where they came from and or are they nesting in the area.

The Calliope Hummingbird was not the early record for Ophir Pass.  A male showed up in Ophir on 6/30/2017.

Our "owl listening stations" picked up a Northern Pygmy-Owl contact call.  Inclement weather kept us from owling most of the night.

July 10

High temperature was 78 degrees again.  Winds 6-7 mph with gusts to 14 mph.

We arrived at Lizard Head Pass several hours before sunrise and set up our "owl listening stations".  Eventually they picked up two Northern Pygmy-Owls calling.  We added a Northern Saw-whet Owl.

The San Miguel County side of Lizard Head Pass added a Fox Sparrow, Red-naped Sapsuckers and an American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list.

The bird(s) of the day turned out to be two White-winged Crossbills accompanied by a flock of 14 Red Crossbills (up Dolores Forest Road 578).

Lizard Head Wilderness area (Dolores) added Orange-crowned Warblers, Hairy Woodpeckers, Pine Siskins, a Townsend's Warbler, Wilson's Warblers, Green-tailed Towhee, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, Pine Grosbeak, a Dusky Grouse and an American Three-toed Woodpecker to our day list.

The Trout Lakes area (San Miguel) was disappointing on the trip back to Telluride.

Heavy rains canceled owling for the night.  Several Black Swifts we observed flying around Bridal Veil Falls after the rain stopped.  

We were on the wrong side of Black Bear Pass and decided to skip it this year.  Black Bear Pass from Red Mountain Pass is one way east to west.

July 11

High temperature in Silverton was 73 degrees.  Winds high at 12-13 mph with gusts to 30 mph.

Our second Calliope Hummingbird of the trip was found at a feeder in Silverton.  Several Rufous Hummingbirds and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were also found.

We headed up the Silverton to Animas Forks Road today.

A hike up Minnie Gulch Road added a White-tailed Ptarmigan to our trip list.  That makes the four year in a row to find one here (San Juan County).

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was added to our trip list at Eureka Gulch Road (San Juan).

Another American Three-toed Woodpecker was found at the Animas Ghost Town.

Owling was canceled due to inclement weather.

July 12

High in Montrose today was 87 degrees.  Winds were 9-10 mph with gusts to 16 mph.

We camped at Top of the Pines Campgrounds (Ouray).  Wandering around before sunrise did not find any owls.  

Our Ouray Grace's Warbler was a great consolation prize!  Then Terry found a Northern Saw-whet Owl just outside of the Campgrounds!

Ridgway State Park (Ouray) was quite slow this morning.  Both a Gray Vireo and Gray Flycatcher were added to our Ouray County lists.

Billy Creek Wildlife Area provided an Ouray County Black Phoebe for us at the bridge over the Creek.  A Gray Vireo was heard and two Pinyon Jays seen flying by as we walked County Road 48.

Other birds encountered at the Wildlife Area included Ash-throated Flycatcher, Black-throated Gray Warbler, Plumbeous Vireo, Pine Grosbeaks and Blue-gray Gnatcatcher.

We continued north to Montrose and then east to the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park.  A female Dusky Grouse and two young walked along the South Rim Road (about 200 yards west of the entrance kiosk.

Among the many birds seen were Woodhouse's Scrub-Jays, Fox Sparrows, Pinyon Jays, Plumbeous Vireo, Green-tailed Towhees, Orange-crowned Warblers, Black-throated Gray Warblers, Gray Flycatcher, Virginia's Warbler, Bushtits, White-throated Swifts, Gray Catbirds, Veery, Hermit Thrush, Gray Vireo, a Townsend's Warbler, and Spotted Towhees.

We hiked to the Warner Point western overlook just before sunset.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl was enticed to call!  A dusk a Common Poorwill called from the western parking area.

We called it an early night and retired in Delta.

Western Slope Bird Breeding Survey, June 2018

June 25 to July 12, 2018

For those keeping up on my birding trips, it has been awhile since the blog has been updated.  Terry Michaels and I have been exploring areas with no cell phone and internet service.  Birding all day and most of the night, sleeping in late afternoon has us exhausted.  Today we rested in Delta with an excusion up Stevens Gulch.

June 25

Temperatures reached 69 degrees today in Fairplay.  Winds were variable 6-8 mph with gusts to 23 mph.

We started our summer bird breeding surveys on the western slope with a stop at Kenosha Pass (Park County).

We made the long hike up the Twin Cones Peak trail several hours before sunrise.  A Flammulated Owl called from the Aspen grove west of the trail where it bends from south to west.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings played shortly after the gate at the trailhead.  Later we added a second Northern Pygmy-Owl and Flammulated Owl picked up by our "owl listening stations".

Our target birds were Rosy Finches, White-winged Crossbills and White-tailed Ptarmigan; none of which was found.

We did encounter Williamson's Sapsuckers (2), a Dusky Grouse, singing Hermit Thrushes, Hairy & Downy Woodpeckers, an American Three-toed Woodpecker and many Pine Siskins.

On the hike back down, we found another Dusky Grouse near the eastern closed gate.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker drummed at the western Campgrounds.  No additional owls were found.

June 26

Temperatures only reached a cool 77 degrees in Buena Vista.  Winds encountered during the day were 8-9 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

A check of the three Park Reservoirs (Spinney Mountain, Eleven Mile and Antero) found no uncommon birds.  A Bonaparte's Gull flew around Antero Reservoir.  There is no way to know if the Gull was a late migrant or early migrant returning from its breeding grounds.

Trout Creek Pass (Park) added another American Three-toed Woodpecker to our trip list.

Fourteen Pinyon Jays were found at the Ruby Mountain parking area (Chaffee).  We found Lewis's Woodpeckers are two different locations in Buena Vista (Chaffee).  No Western Screech-Owls could be enticed to show themselves today.

After dark, we went owling in the BLM land north and east of the Buena Vista Overlook.  We found three Northern Saw-whet Owls with the help of our "owl listening stations".

June 27-28

It was a hot couple of days for the mountains.  Temperatures reached 90 degrees.  Winds were a hot 9-10 mph, gusts to 18 mph.

Full Moon!

We spent the next two days exploring Marshall Pass.  This beautiful area gets few visitors, birders or tourists!

Our bird count included (Chaffee County): two Purple Martins, one Northern Saw-whet Owl (O'Haver Lake), two Williamson's Sapsuckers, three American Three-toed Woodpeckers, four Flammulated Owls (spread over three locations) a Gray Flycatcher, many Warbling Vireos.

Saguache County: two Purple Martins (pair), two Williamson's Sapsuckers, four American Three-toed Woodpeckers and two Flammulated Owls (separate locations).

June 29

Temperatures remained high for the mountains.  The high 83 degrees.  Winds were 7-8 mph with gusts to 22 mph.

We entered Gunnison County by way of Marshall Pass and explored Cumberland Pass today.

The highlight was finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan at Cumberland Pass.  We do not hear of many Ptarmigan reports in Gunnison County.

Other birds run across included: seven Pinyon Jays, two Williamson's Sapsuckers, Red-naped Sapsuckers, and the usual montane birds.

After dark, our owling added two Northern Pygmy-Owls and a Boreal Owl!

June 30

What a change in weather today.  High temperature was only 54 degrees.  Winds were only 4-5 mph, no gusts.

We continued to explore the northeastern corner of Gunnison County.  

The remote ghost town of Tincup added two Rufous Hummingbirds and an "early" Calliope Hummingbird to our trip list.  A male American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard drumming.

Mirror Lake is another interesting area that gets few visitors.  We found a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers just west of the lake.  A Northern Pygmy-Owl and two Flammulated Owls were heard after dark.

Sunday, June 24, 2018

Bluff Lake Nature Area

June 24, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures were a comfortable 66 degrees today.  Winds below the Nature Area parking lot were 4-5 mph.  Later gusts to 32 mph were measured at the DIA Owl Loop.

Rebecca and I viewed the Columbia x Poland World Cup Match with our Polish friends (ouch, 6 x 1 final).  After an outstanding barbecue lunch (thanks Fran), we stopped at Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver).

The second undertaking today after yesterday's failure was victorious.  We found the Green Heron from the southern side of the lake.

Later we hiked the side path down (north) to Sand Creek.  The Red-eyed Vireo I found yesterday had moved farther north today.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop on our trip home.

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Eastern Adams & Arapahoe Counties, Bluff Lake Nature Area & Rocky Mountain Arsenal

June 23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures reached 85 degrees today.  Winds were 5 mph with gusts to 9 mph.

Rebecca Kosten and I drove the Adams County Mountain Plover Loop this morning.  We struck out finding any Plovers.  Three Burrowing Owls continue along 160th avenue at 0.5 miles west of Yellow Jacket Road.

A hike around the loop at Richmil Ranch Open Space (Arapahoe) did not find the Red-headed Woodpecker or Eastern Screech-Owl.  Four Northern Mockingbirds and two Cassin's Kingbirds were relocated.

The Yellow-billed Cuckoo found by Terry Michaels along hwy 40 at Middle Bijou Creek was missed today.

Dickcissels were our target bird in Eastern Arapahoe County.  Unfortunately, none was found.

Burrowing Owls were found along CR 30 at 0.2 miles east of CR 149 and along CR 129 at 0.7 miles south of Orchard Road.

We did encounter Grasshopper Sparrows at two locations and a Cassin's Kingbird along CR 42.

After dropping Rebecca off at the King Soopers Store near Bluff Lake Nature Area (Denver), I walked the 1.1 mile loop around the lake.

Regrettably, I did not relocate the Green Heron that has been reported the last three days.  It was the hottest part of the day and few birds moved around.

A singing Red-eyed Vireo was in the cottonwoods just east of the boardwalk entrance. 

Neither Virginia Rails nor Soras responded to recordings played at the end of the boardwalk.

We ended our birding day at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Adams).  No Red-headed Woodpeckers were detected.  Again, few birds moved about.

A Burrowing Owl stood on a fence post at 0.2 miles north of mile marker 9.0.  A Northern Mockingbird hunted at 0.2 miles west of Havana & 72nd (southwest terminal of wildlife drive).

Broomfield County Northern Parula

June 22, 2018

Richard Stevens:

Temperatures in the afternoon in Lafayette were 89 degrees.  Winds were 6-7 mph with gusts to 36 mph along the DIA Owl Loop.

When I arrived at Interlocked the previously reported Northern Parula was singing at the southwest corner of the pond south of 200 Interlocked Blvd.  It took another hour to get a couple of seconds view of the bird.  It came down for a drink of water and then disappeared toward the east end of the lake.

Other birds observed included two Yellow Warblers, a Hermit Thrush, four Bushtits and many Robins.

The lone Burrowing Owl continues along Gun Club Road at 0.2 miles south of the Colfax & Toll Road interchange.

No Short-eared Owls appeared along the DIA Owl Loop (Adams/Denver) this evening.  The pair of Burrowing Owls continues at the northwest corner of Trussville Road and 114th avenue.

Owling and Search for Jefferson Grace's Warbler

June 20-23, 2018

Richard Stevens:

I decided to escape the heat, people, and search for the Grace's Warbler reported around Wellington Lake (Jefferson) and owls in the Jefferson/Douglas County foothills.

High Temperatures ranged from 60 to 69 degrees.  Winds were 5-6 mph with gusts to 15-16 mph.  The cool temperatures were a welcomed relief from those 20-25 degrees warmer in Denver.  

A couple of brief showers probably reduced my success with owls.  However, owling was not bad.

June 20
Highlights at the Rampart Range Road and Hwy 67 area included the resident American Three-toed Woodpeckers (male & female) and a male Williamson's Sapsucker.

After dark, my "owl listening stations" attracted a Northern Saw-whet Owl south of the above intersections.  See previous posts on one of my favorite "birding tools".

We are down to just two "owl listening stations" as some undetermined animal destroyed the third station a few months ago.

The second station positioned farther down (south) Rampart Range Road picked up contact calls from a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

June 21

I spent the morning looking for Grace's Warblers around Wellington Lake and the entrance road.  An American Three-toed Woodpecker was 1/4 mile north of the Lake.

A male Northern Goshawk was found down the trail from Forest Road 550.

Then I decided to limp around the six mile loop at Pine Valley Ranch Park/Pawnee National Grasslands today.

American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found along Strawberry Jack Trail south of Park View Trail and the Skipper Trail near Buck Gulch Trail.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl called along the Strawberry Jack Trail south of the Park View Trail.  One of the "owl listening stations" picked up Northern Pygmy-Owl contact calls below the Pine View overlook area.  While the other "owl listening stations" did the same at the west end of the Narrow Gauge trail.

After dark, I found (heard only) a Flammulated Owl at my favorite spot along CR 550.

I was enjoying the cool calm night so much that I continued owling around Bailey until sunrise.

Two additional Northern Pygmy-Owls and one Northern Saw-whet Owl were added to my trip list.

June 22

After sunrise, I returned to Denver.  A detour to Mt Falcon Park found a Dusky Grouse along the Parmalee Trail (about 400 yards from the upper parking area (Jefferson).

Instead of going straight home, I detoured to Interlocken area of Broomfield. 

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Reynolds Park & the First Creek Trail

June 19, 2018

Richard Stevens:

James, Mark and I walked Foxton Road along the north side of Reynolds Park (Jefferson County) about an hour before sunrise.  Regrettably, no Northern Pygmy-Owls were encountered this morning.  We did hear a Common Poorwill west of the larger parking area.

It was a superb morning and we hiked the loop Elkhorn Trail to Raven's Roost (to upper clearing) to Eagle's View to Oxen Draw.  

A Dusky Grouse was observed east of Raven's Roost Trail about a 1000 yards south of the Elkhorn Trail.

Continuing to the upper clearing, we heard the booming of another Dusky Grouse.  Unfortunately it was somewhere in the forest and never seen.

Dropping down the Eagle View to Oxen Draw, a male American Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming about 30 yards north (downhill) of the intersection of the three trails.

No additional uncommon birds were found.  We did record three species of nuthatches, Pine Siskins and Downy & Hairy Woodpeckers.

After dropping my companions off, I decided to hike the First Creek Trail around 4:00 pm.  A Western Wood-pewee hawked bugs along the Denver County section.  The Red-tailed Hawk was still on her nest.  A Barn Owl is using the nesting box that we erected last fall.

The highlight of the Adams County Section was seeing a Northern Mockingbird collecting food and flying toward a nest.

Shortly after returning to my car, a downpour with hail hit the area.