Friday, January 19, 2007

Western Trip

January 18, 2007

Owling last night was interesting. The temperature was -7 degrees with absolutely no wind. I wear an old Air Force coat which keeps me quite warm and dry. I have to say, that the Armed Forces do know how to dress their people!

Even with no moon, we could see fairly well because of light reflecting off of the snow. It’s a little eerie, but quite engrossing.

We again missed on Gunnison Sage-Grouse before sunrise. A quick check found about 50 Rosy Finches at yesterday’s feeders. We then tried to figure out where to find Lewis's Woodpeckers. We would have driven down to Cottonwood Canyon in Baca County, but figured the roads could still be impassable from our last blizzard.

Finally success! The drive to Fruitgrower's Reservoir was a success. Jay found a Lewis's Woodpecker. Afterwards we drove into Escalante Canyon in search of Chukars. Three birds were in the cultivated field just after crossing the river.

Once in Grand Junction, we drove to the southern entrance to the Colorado National Monument. A Gambel's Quail walked along the road just outside of the entrance.

We drove over to Shipwreck Pond, but did not find the Swans reported on 1/16. Then we headed to CO 139 and O Road. The Barn Owls were not around this evening.

After dark we looked for Northern Saw-whet Owls around DeBeque. Jay thought he heard one briefly, but it called for only a few seconds. As usual on this trip, we were hampered by road conditions.

January 17, 2007

Jay and I were up early and again missed on Gunnison Sage-Grouse. The temperature reached -23 degrees during the night. My respect for people living in Gunnison raised much. That is too cold for me! I left my cell phone last night on the car dash board for only 3 hours. The cold killed the battery in that short of time. At 8:00am we walked around for an hour. I was carrying my camera and the newly recharged battery went dead in that hour. Too cold………

We found Rosy Finches visiting a feeder in town. Got all three species and turned to our search for Lewis's Woodpeckers. They have been reported in the past at the Gunnison Cemetery. We scoped the trees; without success.

Missed Gunnison Sage-Grouse at dusk and after dark we tried to find some owls. A Great Horned Owl at the cemetery was it for this night.

January 16, 2007

Jay Melvin and I birded around Canon City today. We missed the Rufous-crowned Sparrows along Tunnel Drive. The Yellow-bellied Sapsucker at Centennial Park was fairly easy to find (a quick find is always nice once in a while)! The Red-naped Sapsucker at the Abbey was cooperative also as it was found in about 15 minutes.

We searched for the previously reported Winter Wren and Swamp Sparrow reported along the Arkansas Riverwalk; without success. We did find Red-breasted and White-breasted Nuthatches. Again sparrows included Song and White-crowned Sparrows. Bushtits numbers were about 9. Two Great Blue Herons stood along the river. It was again quite cold.

Our birding day ended with a search for Gunnison Sage-Grouse; without success.

January 15, 2007

Jay Melvin and I birded around Pueblo County today. At 7:00am it was about -12 degrees. In two trips to Pueblo Reservoir we found nine species of gulls. These included:

Great Black-backed Gull (2 adults)

Glaucous Gull (1st year)

Herring Gulls (adult, 1st year)

Lesser Black-backed Gull (2 adults, 3rd year, 1st year)

Possible Iceland Gull (1st year)

California Gull (adult, 1st year)

Thayer's Gull (1st year)

Mew Gull (adult)

Ring-billed Gull (many)

We searched part of the Arkansas River in Rock Canyon and found one of the Black Phoebes. The only sparrows found included White-crowned and Song. We did find 5 Bushtits!

A drive down to Greenhorn Meadows Park in Colorado City did not add Lewis's Woodpeckers to our trip list. A few usually hang around the ball fields; none were found today. We looked for bluebirds around the pool area and Lake Beckwith. A few Mountain Bluebirds were found, however no Western.

After dark we tried to go owling in Fremont County. We checked previous Northern Saw-whet Owl locations (Oro Juno and the Oro north of it, I forget the name). Roads were really bad and we did not get far up Phantom Canyon. No Spotted Owls in any case.

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