Saturday, July 28, 2007

Divide Road, Ouray County

Friday July 27, 2007

Note: The reason I switched to this blog back in January was because it advertised that I could use my cell phone to post messages. It has only taken 7 months to configure the blog and my cell phone service for success. However it should be quite handy in the future.

Back on the Uncompahgre Plateau but Ouray County; Similar technique as Thursday night:

Late in the afternoon we found both American Three-toed Woodpeckers and Williamson's Sapsuckers.
After dark:
2 Flammulated Owls
1 Boreal Owl

Divide Road, Uncompaghre Plateau Montrose County

Thursday July 26, 2007

Back to the Uncompahgre Plateau, we entered from the south end late in the afternoon. We drove the Divide Road from Windy Point south to Columbine Pass stopping every 0.25 miles (GPS waypoints). We played first Flammulated Owl playback and then playbacks of Boreal Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Northern Pygmy-Owl in that order. Our success was unbelievable to us anyway.

Our technique was to play 30 seconds of the owl’s primary calls. Wait 30 seconds, then play again. We repeated this four times (as we were told that if the owl did not respond in 2 minutes, they would not do so). This was are most ambitious night yet. We used every bit of darkness to get the count done.

Final tally was:
20 Flammulated Owls at 42 stops
1 Northern Saw-whet Owl
2 Boreal Owl
0 Northern Pygmy-Owl

Delta and the Escalante Canyon

Wednesday July 25, 2007

Back down to the “flatlands” we decided to checkout Fruitgrower's Reservoir and Confluence Park (Delta) before heading up Escalante Canyon.

Fruitgrower's Reservoir had a few shorebirds; the most interesting being 2 Willets. We made a brief stop in front of E. Horn’s home to watch the Lewis's Woodpeckers (and take a few photos). Not much was observed around Confluence Park. We couldn’t get any owls to call. We also checked 34 Road south of Delta for Burrowing Owls; without success. At an old location for Long-eared Owls our luck changed and we found a lone Long-eared Owl! Then we headed to Escalante Canyon.

I had missed the previously reported Black Phoebes on 4 trips and missed them again this day. We ran into two pairs of Chukars which are always nice to find without great effort. Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds, and Say's Phoebes were found around the “old cabin”. We then continued up the canyon to do some owling.

We enjoyed what we thought was pretty good success up Escalante Canyon. Our owl count was 3 Northern Pygmy-Owls and 2 Great Horned Owls.

South of Telephone Trail, Mesa County

Tuesday July 24, 2007

We continued from yesterday heading further south along the Uncompaghre Plateau. Owl count was 5 Flammulated Owls and 1 Great Horned Owl. We also got a waypoint on one American Three-toed Woodpecker.

North of Telephone Trail, Mesa County

Monday July 23, 2007

We headed back up the Uncompahgre Plateau to continue our survey of owls. During the day we counted many of the summering and resident birds (probably not interesting enough to list here). After dark we added waypoints to 7 Flammulated Owls.

Search for Scott's Orioles

Sunday July 22, 2007

We took the day off from birding to watch the British Open. Nice finish in a playoff, mostly our feet did not see hiking boots until late afternoon.

We made a drive over to Rabbit Valley to look for Scott's Orioles. It is getting late in the season, but we did get lucky and find two males at separate locations. One male was in the Juniper-Pinyon “forest” southwest of M.80 and 80 roads. The other male was found by hiking to the draw 0.2 miles east of a spot 0.4 miles south of M.80 and 80 roads.

Bonuses from the location included a singing Rock Wren, 2 singing Black-throated Sparrows, a Sage Thrasher, and a calling Say's Phoebe. Guess they were happy that it had cooled down from the very hot afternoon. We also had a vireo that was probably a Gray Vireo, but not seen well enough to rule out a Plumbeous Vireo.

There were several Great-tailed Grackles seen at Fruita State Park as we returned to Grand Junction.

Colorado National Monument

Saturday July 21, 2007

Bryan and I visited the Colorado National Monument today. As usual we started at the southern end so that the sun would be at our back while driving the road north.

Gambel's Quail and Black-throated Sparrows were easy to find in the brush outside of the entrance. Several Black-chinned Hummingbirds, an Ash-throated Flycatcher, Rock Wren, and Canyon Wren were found at the first picnic area (Devil’s Kitchen) inside the park. One surprise, a Chukar jumped up on the rocks along the eastern edge and started calling.

We found Gray Vireos singing along the road while we were stopped at several overlooks. White-throated Swifts hawked insects high over the canyons. Several Black-chinned Hummingbirds zipped by our heads.

We took a side trip to Glade Park. I prefer to take the unpaved second road (northern road) as it seems to be birdier (Is that a word?).

A walk down Black Ridge Hunter Trail was quite productive. We found Gray Vireos, Black-throated Gray Warbler, our target bird-Juniper Titmice, and several Ash-throated Flycatchers.

Continuing further toward Glade Park we stopped at the final curves before the opening bottoms. Here we found our Mesa County Cassin's Kingbird. Several Brewer's Sparrows were also in the area.

At the Visitor’s Center we made several hikes. A hike through the campgrounds added Pinyon Jays and another Black-throated Gray Warbler to our day list.

In the late afternoon we decided to hike the trail running north from the visitor’s center. Several years ago (do not think it was last year) a Black-chinned Sparrow was reported about a mile down the trail. It was a pleasant walk as the air cooled in contrast to the hot afternoon. We did not find any Black-chinned Sparrow but did see a Gray Flycatcher.

Our last stop was just inside the northern entrance. We quickly found 2 Bewick's Wrens and our first Plumbeous Vireo of the trip. Both of us recognized from the call that it was not a Gray Vireo! It took another 15-20 minutes to put binoculars on it.

After sunset we checked several locations for owls (Long-eared Owl, Short-eared Owl, Barn Owl (previously reported); without success. We did find a Western Screech-Owl at a friend’s yard north of Grand Junction.

Uncompaghre Plateau, Mesa County

Friday July 20, 2007

We explored the Uncompahgre Plateau today. We checked several owl boxes where Northern Saw-whet Owls had nested in previous years. The boxes were unused and in bad repair.

Two Grace's Warblers responded to our playbacks near Carson’s Hole. We managed to follow one and confirm breeding (carrying food back to a nest (branch off the top of a Douglas Fir).

Around the Telephone Trail we found Hairy and Downy Woodpeckers, Red-naped Sapsuckers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and a Hermit Thrush. Near dusk we heard a Swainson's Thrush (again never being able to locate it).

Owling around the Telephone Trail was quite good. One Flammulated Owl perched on a branch perhaps 12 over our heads. Two others called from the west side of the road. Deeper down the trail, we found (heard only) a Boreal Owl.

We then drove down the road and made 16 stops finding Boreal Owls at 3 of those stops. One stop most likely had two Boreal Owls calling back to us.

Grand Mesa Lodge Area

Thursday July 19, 2007

Early in the morning, we heard a Flammulated Owl around the cabins at the Grand Mesa Lodge.

We spent the day hiking around several of the many lakes on the Grand Mesa. All three species of nuthatches are doing well up there. We also found Brown Creepers at two locations.

Our owl count this night in 19 locations was 2 Boreal Owls and 1 Northern Saw-whet Owl. Rains and winds put much of a damper on our owling.

Grand Mesa Again

Wednesday July 18, 2007

During the day we hiked several trails on the Grand Mesa. A Dusky Grouse was observed roadside and just south of the Picnic Area. We spent 2 hours hiking up the trail (can’t remember the name of the trail, first picnic area south of Spruce Grove Campgrounds) to where I had cross-country skied to a small lake a few years ago. (It was one of those rare times where the snow was deep enough to ski, but the lake was not frozen; probably does not happen too often). The highlights besides seeing Red Crossbills and other species of a pine forest was a male Northern Goshawk.

Another stop was near mile marker 34 where White-winged Crossbills have been reported several times in the past. We did not see any today, but while out of the car, we heard a booming Dusky Grouse. We wandered through the woods for a while. The bird was close, but heck if we ever could see him.

At several stops we found Red Crossbills and Cassin's Finches. No White-winged Crossbills were found the whole day. After dark we stopped at 18 locations to search for owls. Our total for this night was 2 Boreal Owls and a Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Northern Grand Mesa

Tuesday July 17, 2007

We woke up to a clear, cool morning and hiked back to our car. Again we found common birds, kept our eyes out for American Three-toed Woodpeckers and White-winged Crossbills; without seeing either. After heading back down Coffee Pot Road, Bryan saw a small dark bird fly across the road. Further inspection proved it to be a Purple Martin. We followed in into the woods, but could not locate additional Purple Martins.

We stopped every 0.25 miles, listened for birds and recorded what we observed and heard (GPS waypoints taken). At stop number 10 (south of FR 600 & the road to White Owl Lake) we hiked up a trail (I believe it was TR 1852). At 0.4 miles up TR 1852, we heard the distinct drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker. Quick we were able to pick it up and follow it as he worked his way northeast along the trail.

Once back at I70 we turned west and headed to Cameo (decided to leave a trip to Ripple Pass for another trip).

We reluctantly passed Hanging Lake as neither of us was up to the 1.5 mile steep hike. It is a beautiful little spot and birders do see Black Swifts flying overhead. We thought the time of day was wrong for a swift sighting. Early morning or late evening definitely increases one’s chance of a sighting.

We allowed two hours to explore Garfield Creek Wildlife Area (Garfield County). Our luck was holding as public access is only July 16-November 30. Vegetation is a mix of riparian, sage, pinon-juniper, oak brush, open meadows, cultivated fields, and coniferous forest.

We found 2 or 3 Sage Thrashers and half a dozen Brewer's Sparrows. However we missed on our target sparrow, any Black-throated Sparrows. The prize however was a Sage Sparrow! He perched on a bush for a good 2 minutes! To show the diversity of this large State Wildlife Area, later a Dusky Grouse rushed across the trail for us!

Our arrival to Cameo was timed for 30 minutes before sunset. A covey of Chukars (2 females and 7-9 young) were south of the old broken down stone building. We heard a Pinyon Jay but never saw it? A Black-throated Sparrow did come out of the bushes and sing for us.

We now started our heavy owling part of the trip.

Tonight we got GPS waypoints on 5 Boreal Owls and a Northern Saw-whet Owl. One of the Boreal Owls and the Northern Saw-whet Owl were near the Spruce Grove Campgrounds. Another was 0.2 miles east of the Visitor’s Center.

White Owl Lake

Monday July 16, 2007

Next morning we hiked parts of Coffee Pot Road finding the usual suspects (Cassin's Finch, Red Crossbill, Gray Jay, Pine Siskin, Williamson's Sapsucker, Pine Siskin, Hermit Thrush, Swainson's Thrush, Yellow-rumped Warbler, etc. Bryan thought he heard a Veery? We would have liked to see it as Veeries are reported rare in Garfield County except for the extreme southeastern corner.

We checked several unnamed ponds (on our maps anyway) on the trip toward our goal “White Owl Lake”. We wanted to spend the night there to investigate possible Boreal Owl sightings/hearings.

Near dusk, we first heard and then saw a nice number of Common Nighthawks. A Lesser Nighthawk would have been nice; but that never happened. We also missed finding any American Three-toed Woodpeckers or Dusky Grouse.

Our anticipation was gratified as we heard a Boreal Owl calling around White Owl Lake around 10:00pm. A second owl much further away may have answered the first. Neither owl was ever seen.

Coffee Pot Road, Garfield County

Sunday July 15, 2007

I rested Saturday morning and Bryan and I headed out a little after noon for Garfield County. One of my goals was to bird up Ripple Pass (northeast of Buford). It is one of the few passes that I have not been up yet. As it turned out, we never made it that far north. Just too many places to visit and not enough time.

We went owling up Coffee Pot Road (other names: Forest Road 600, 140 Road, CR 17). We found a Flammulated Owl which is rare in that part of Garfield County (according to Andrews and Righter “Colorado Birds”. We also received responses from two Northern Saw-whet Owls (to our playback recordings, no longer tapes, we use an Ipod to play MP3 files).

Birding Eastern Foothills

July 13 & 14, 2007

Sent to me, pretty funny; Written by Bill Cryder:

“Those guys are nuts, just nuts. We left Denver at 3:00am Friday and just returned around 8:00am Saturday. I have to say, that we did have a great time.

Four of us split in pairs and searched for owls around Echo Lake. Gary and I hiked up Chicago Lake Trail while Richard and Bryan hiked the south side of Echo Lake. I am happy to say that Gary and I found a Northern Pygmy-Owl. It was calling on the east side of the trail and according to our GPS it was 0.6 miles south of Echo Lake.

Richard and Bryan didn’t find any owls, but they did run into a flock of Red Crossbills, about 6 birds and a flock of Pine Grosbeaks, about 14 birds. Numbers were split equally between the sexes.

We didn’t stay long because we wanted to be the first car up Mt. Evans Road after sunrise. Fog was pretty thick as we started up the mountain. We had to stop many times because of near zero visibility. When we waited, the hope was that no cars would speed up from below.

The fog cleared by the time we reached the top. We searched below the parking lot, found no White-tailed Ptarmigan and hiked the trail to the top. Two Ptarmigan were found around the cairn to the northwest of the parking lot.

On the trip back down to Summit Lake the hills were scoped for more Ptarmigan. Bryan put a scope on two birds about 20 yards east of the road and 100 yards south of Summit Lake.

We had to hike all the way to the northwest corner of Summit Lake before finding a couple of Brown-capped Rosy Finches. The birds would land and eat on the rocks. They stayed for about 10 minutes and then took off. And so did we……….

Back at Echo Lake, Green-tailed Towhees answered our playback recordings. Richard found a male Williamson's Sapsucker in the tall pines to the northwest of the willows by the restrooms. Lincoln's Sparrows and Mountain Chickadees were numerous.

A 2 mile drive up Chicago Creek Road found Virginia's, MacGillivray's, and Wilson's Warblers.

The group wanted to look for owls along Guanella Pass road after dark. We had half a day before sunset and decided to look for Brewer's Sparrows (possible Timberline) at the top of Guanella Pass.

A pair of Williamson’s Sapsuckers was discovered in the aspens around the Clear Creek Campgrounds.

The only sparrows found were White-crowned. Two Mountain Bluebirds were maybe 20 yards south of the top of the hill to the southeast of the parking lot.

Richard ran upon 2 Ptarmigan near the top of the hill southeast of the parking lot. The Ptarmigan were 60 yards from the top and 40 yards west of the trail. They were below a large triangular rock.

We climbed the Square Top Lakes trail west of Guanella Pass road. We only made it about halfway to Square Top Lake before turning around. A few more White-crowned Sparrows and a couple of American Pipits were all that were found. Black Swifts have been reported here in the past. They may nest near the distant water falls. It was estimated that there was not enough daylight or energy for that matter to make it before dark.

We relaxed our legs with a relatively level hike up the Lost Dollar Lake Trail. Gary found a male Three-toed Woodpecker drumming away about 40 or so yards up the trail.

Finally after sunset, we drove east past Duck Lake and toward Grant. Various stops were made to listen for owls. We found 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls and a Northern Saw-whet Owl along the road. None of them were at Buffalo Creek Campgrounds (previously reported Northern Pygmy-Owl was not found here).

I got up early enough to hike the trail to Twin Cone Peaks and listen again for owls. I believe Bryan and Richard never slept, but hiked Kenosha Pass and the campgrounds in search of owls. A Great Horned Owl was all that was heard. On the road to Twin Owls, a Flammulated Owl was heard far off at 50 yards after the road/trail turned sharply to the east.

Many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Wilson's Warblers, a Hermit Thrush or two, and another pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers were found in the aspens at the corner of the north to south turn for west to east point of the trail. I estimate this to be about a mile from the locked gate back at Kenosha Pass, east side of road.

We headed for home. Hurray!!! They are nuts!”

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Cherry Creek Reservoir

July 12, 2007

Bryan Ehlmann and I are confident that there are at least 3 Black-chinned Hummingbirds at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County) this summer. We watched two at the same time east of the ranger’s office. Another one perched on top of a tree near the Shop Creek parking area. Unless it flew directly from where we were watching it further east (and just after we hopped in our car), it was a different bird.

We did not see much else, but with the large number of mosquitoes out today we did not stay long. Four species of swallows were again at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands. No Green Herons could be found at Cottonwood Creek or the 12 mile beaver pond. There were few waterfowl on the lake proper.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

DIA Owl Loop

July 11, 2007

Gary Z and I circled the DIA Owl Loop on our bikes. Total distance was 33.7 miles. We started at 56th avenue and Buckley Road, circled the Owl Loop and returned. It threatened to rain, fortunately did not.

Birds were rather scarce. We did see 21 Burrowing Owls along the trek.

East side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal ........................ 5

3.4 miles east/Tower Road & 96th ave....................... 8

Trussville Road & 120th ave....................................... 1

Powhaton Road & 128th ave ...................................... 3

0.2 miles/north/56th ave & Tower............................ 4

Sparrows included Song, 1 Grasshopper, and 1 Brewer's.

Birds missed included Lark Buntings and longspurs.

Mt Evans and Surrounding Area July 10, 2007

Nicole Juhan and I headed to Mt. Evans in search of White-tailed Ptarmigan. Unfortunately we could not find any today. On the trip up the mountain we saw many American Pipits and a few Mountain Bluebirds flying around above tree line. A dozen White-crowned Sparrows were found a little lower on the mountain.

Both Mountain Goats and Big Horned Sheep were wandering around at the top of the mountain. Both were accompanied by young of various ages.

We kept an eye out for Brewer's Sparrows. While I have seen “Timberline” Brewer’s Sparrows a few miles to the west on Guanella Pass, we did not find any on Mt. Evans.

A stop at Summit Lake was quite productive. Four or so Brown-capped Rosy Finches were observed flying around the north side of the lake even before we got out of the car. Two landed on the rocks and flew down for a drink of water; allowing for great views!

We stopped briefly and watched the hummingbird feeders on the side of the Restaurant near the pay station for Mt. Evans. Only Broad-tailed Hummingbirds visited them during our stay.

Our next stop was the western end of Echo Lake. We hoped to find American Three-toed Woodpeckers or Red-naped Sapsuckers; without success. We hiked the Chicago Lakes Trail until the telephone wires crossed the path and then headed back north to our car along the telephone line. Several flocks of Pine Grosbeaks were encountered at the junction of the trail and telephone poles.

Back near the parking area, 3 or 4 Green-tailed Towhees and many Lincoln's Sparrows sang from the willows and firs above. We ran into a group of 4 birders who said they saw a Williamson's Sapsucker in the willows; it never appeared for us.

A short drive west up Chicago Creek Road at the base of Mt Evans added several Virginia's Warblers to our day list.

Our last stop was at Genesee Mountain Park and a search for Williamson's Sapsuckers. They could not be found today. Many Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, Chipping Sparrows, and female and/or young Western Tanagers flew around the group picnic area. One adult male Western Tanager added nice color to the scene.

Williamson's Sapsuckers were also missed at the top of the park. A pair of Hairy Woodpeckers and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers flew around the nesting trees near the flagpole. Western Bluebirds were quite numerous. We ran out of time and headed back to Denver.

Metro State Parks July 9, 2007

Nicole Juhan and I birded around several local State Parks in our limited time today.

We hoped to find a Cinnamon Teal pair which appeared to be nesting several weeks ago at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe County). Unfortunately we could not find them today. View of much of the water surface at the 12 mile Beaver Pond is obstructed by cattails. A pair of Blue-winged Teal did swim out of the cattails.

A nice highlight was 3 Virginia Rails that walked along the shoreline just below the last bench at the southeast corner of the Beaver Pond. A lone Snowy Egret also searched for food in the swallow pond.

Many American White Pelicans and a Western Grebe were at the southeast corner of the lake proper. A few Ring-billed Gulls flew around (but not many).

We watched at least 2 Black-chinned Hummingbirds fly around east of the Ranger’s Office. While we were doing this, Don Belts had seen 1 or 2 near the Shop Creek Parking Area. So there may be 4 or more around this year. We watched them nest two years ago. Perhaps the young returned to their birth place. I plan to try and get an accurate count of them on Thursday.

Not much was happening at the Cottonwood Creek Wetlands Pond. We did count 4 species of swallows flying around (again no Cinnamon Teal). Another Snowy Egret and an adult Black-crowned Night-Heron were also there.

Our next stop was Chatfield Reservoir (Jefferson/Douglas). We made a short walk south of Kingfisher Bridge (east side of the S. Platte River). At least 2 or 3 Least Flycatchers were heard and observed singing. Western Wood-pewees and House Wrens were numerous. Nicole found a female Broad-tailed Hummingbird sitting on a nest. A few Lark Sparrows flew about. We missed Spotted Towhees as the many mosquitoes urged us to move on to somewhere else.

A hike south of the Plum Creek Delta parking area added several Yellow Warblers and a MacGillivray's Warbler to our trip list. Again the numerous mosquitoes encouraged us to leave.

A drive along Castlewood Canyon Road (west side of Castlewood Canyon State Park) was interesting. Three or four Bobolinks were observed on the eastern hills about 0.2 miles south of the Winkler Ranch Entrance. We heard and observed a Dickcissel singing from the two dead willows along the creek just south of the entrance (alfalfa field here this year).

Both Mountain and Western Bluebirds were observed before we reached the State Park entrance. Several Tree Swallows were using some of the bluebird boxes.

A hike behind the old homestead building at the northwest corner of the park added two Spotted Towhees to our day list.

Western Slope

Tuesday July 3, 2007

Bryan Ehlmann and I left Denver late yesterday afternoon. We went owling south of De Beque and well before sunrise and heard 3 Northern Saw-whet Owls calling.

Early morning we waited for the Lawrence’s Goldfinch to show up at Larry Arnold’s home in Grand Junction. We were quite fortunate that it only took 10 minutes. We watched the bird for another 10 minutes and headed out.

Our plan was to hike into Bangs Canyon; count birds, and records any nesting birds. Bangs Canyon is only a few miles south of Grand Junction. However, we have never heard of any bird reports from the area; we hoped to break new ground. Bangs Canyon is only 8 miles from Grand Junction, but rather isolated. A perfect place to escape the coming holiday crowd.

The habitat is Juniper-Pinyon “forest”, Sagebrush, Aspen, and Douglas Fir. Bryan’s jeep greatly helped us to access the roadless areas. Access is off of Little Park Road. You first cross Rough Canyon and then enter the West Bangs Canyon in another 3 miles and Bangs Canyon in another 2 miles.

We did make an hour hike along Rough Canyon. It had some water and advertised Indian pictographs. Birds were scarce, but we had been warned that birding on the western slope in the summer can be difficult. Birds hide from the heat. One western slope birder told me that their food supply becomes scarce because they die in the heat (that statement would be interesting to explore).

We had planned to hike down Bangs Canyon to the Gunnison River (approximately 7 miles) then return by way of West Bangs Canyon. We took plenty of water and sunscreen. However, the heat was tremendous. Regular temperature was 96 degrees and the warm rocks, reflecting sun, and no wind must have raised the temperatures to 110+. We reluctantly, but jointly decided to turn around when Bang Canyon met West Bang Canyon. Adding another 6-7 miles to the trip seemed unnecessary (especially since bird numbers were not huge).

We did find a few Black-throated Sparrows, 2 Sage Sparrows, Brewer’s Sparrows, Ash-throated Flycatchers, a Northern Mockingbird, and 2 Gray Flycatchers. We can safely say that all those species nest in the area. If Chukars were in the area (and why not) we did not locate any. We would also expect Sage Thrashers and maybe Scott's Orioles, but none were observed.

By the time we got back to our motel, we had used up all our energy for the day.

Wednesday July 4, 2007

Our other goal of the trip was to hike and camp along the Crag Crest National Recreational Trail. The trail is on the Grand Mesa (in Delta County, but just barely). It is a 10 mile loop that offers great possibilities for bird sightings. The trail has an elevation of approximately 10,100 to 11,200. Again, we did not pick the best time of year to hike the trail; it figured to be cooler than yesterday and down in Grand Junction (but not by much). Again we had much water, but also carried the best water filter I could purchase.

We started at the Crag Crest parking area and planned to hike to Eggleston Lake Campground, spend the night and return to our jeep the next day. We wanted to explore as much of the bird population as possible and get in some owling.

The view along the Crag Crest Trail is alone worth the effort and time. What a fantastic view of the surrounding area. From the ridge about 11,000 feet you can see Cottonwood Lakes and Book Cliffs to the north; to the south are Butts Lake, the San Juans, and West Elk Mountains.

I could talk about the view for hours. The diversity of birds was good also. Along the trek the first day we found Red-naped Sapsuckers, a Williamson's Sapsucker, Downy Woodpecker, and Hairy Woodpeckers. The prize however was an American Three-toed Woodpecker! We only had one, but it was a male, yellow crown and all! We watched and searched hoping to see some evidence of nesting or a female. After an hour we continued up the trail.

The second prize of the trip was a pair of Purple Martins flying by. We tried to follow, but lost them. They were near the junction of the Crag Crest Trail and Cottonwood Lakes Trail.

Other birds seen in the Engelmann Spruce forest were Red-breasted Nuthatches, a Brown Creeper, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Hammond's Flycatcher, Olive-sided Flycatcher, Western Wood-pewee, plenty of Steller's Jays, 2 Gray Jays, a Clark's Nutcracker, a Northern Goshawk, Broad-tailed Hummingbird, American Crow, Common Raven, and Mountain Chickadee.

When we arrived at Eggleston Lake there was a Spotted Sandpiper walking the shore. Definitely the highest one we had ever observed (GPS: 10,648 feet).

After dark we wandered back north and east and then down to the Crag Crest Campgrounds. Only one owl, a Flammulated Owl, answered our playback. Several areas looked good for Boreal Owls; none called tonight.

Thursday July 5, 2007

Got up late morning (having gone to sleep just after sunrise), we debated on whether to stay around for another night and go owling again. Finally it was decided that we would come back in a couple of weeks and try then.

We continued our loop from Eggleston Lake west to Crag Crest Trail and back to our car. The trail here goes through woods and a few open meadows. Birds added to our Grand Mesa trip list included; Violet-green Swallow, Tree Swallow (surprisingly we could not remember seeing one yesterday), Yellow-rumped Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, American Pipit, and a MacGillivray's Warbler!

Back at Island Lake we found White-crowned Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, Chipping Sparrow, Dark-eyed Junco, Cassin's Finch, and 3 Red Crossbills. A White-winged Crossbill would have been nice; no such luck.
We returned to the De Beque area and drove to the western end of South Shale Ridge. The area is a multicolored escarpment with Douglas Firs at the western end. Surely there are some owls nesting there, but none were found this night. The area definitely calls for further exploration.

Friday July 6, 2007

We rose late and headed back toward Denver. Owling the past month had caught up to us physically. We needed a rest. However, we had one last place to checkout first. Years ago when I climbed Mount of the Holy Cross, I was intrigued by the campground area. It was not difficult to talk Bryan into one last night of owling.

The campgrounds are a beautiful riparian area below Mt of the Holy Cross. I had climbed the mountain about ten years ago and enjoyed it much. The one problem is that the campgrounds require a 7.5 mile hike. A gain and lost of 900 feet of elevation does make the hike easy if one is carrying 50 pounds of equipment. We were high enough that the air was almost cold. No summer storms approached tonight; it was quite a pleasant experience.

Wilson's, MacGillivray's, and Virginia's Warblers were in the surrounding willows. Pine Siskins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, and Broad-tailed Hummingbird zipped among the pines. Several Hermit Thrushes sang near dusk. Finally dark came and we were able to go owling.

A pair of Great Horned Owls called back and forth just before dark. We hoped that they would not scare off any smaller owls. We hiked about 2 miles in the dark (previously scouted so we had an idea about the terrain).

Two Northern Pygmy-Owls called from one location. Further up the trail a Flammulated Owl answered our playback recordings. Early in the morning, we heard the Great Horned Owls again. It would be enjoyable to spend 3 to 5 days up here investigating the area. Perhaps Boreal Owls nesting further up the slopes? The area definitely deserves further study.

Monday, July 2, 2007

Search for Carolina Wren in Denver

July 2, 2007

Bryan & I met Jerry Petrosky early this morning and searched for the Carolina Wren that has been reported along Glencoe Street between 6th Avenue and Severn Street. We had no luck in our search. The bird neither sang or responded to our recordings.

As I left town later in the day, I stopped at Tower Road & 56th Avenue. Someone wanted to know if a Great Horned Owl was nesting in the area and if there were any offspring around.

I couldn't find any Great Horned Owls. I did see a pair of Lesser Goldfinches, 2 Eurasian-Collared Doves, and a juvenile Red-tailed Hawk. Another Red-tailed Hawk is nesting at Buckley Road and 56th Avenue.

Pennock Pass & Gregory Canyon

June 29, 2007

Bryan, Gary and I went owling most of the night. We relocated 3 Flammulated Owls on Pennock Pass. Common Poorwills were found early yesterday evening about 0.5 miles up Prairie Stove Road (from highway 14). We also found several this morning up Flagstaff Road (north and west of Gregory Canyon).

We were searching for reported Flammulated Owls below the road up Flagstaff Mountain. If they were there, they were super quiet this morning.

Gary, Bryan, and I found the Scarlet Tanager this morning in Gregory Canyon. It was chasing a male Western Tanager (or at least following it). The tanagers came from south of the trail and we left them in the trees just northwest of the second bridge.

Southwestern Colorado June 11 to 22nd

Delayed Post as it was an article for July's "Colorado Field Notes". We thought to let subscribers read the trip report first.

Inserted by Rebecca Kosten:

Six of us started out for a two week search of Bendire's Thrashers and other birds in southwest Colorado. Several local birders joined us along the way and added valuable incite for our searches. We enjoyed some successes, failures, and several nice surprises. Probably the biggest highlight was a southwestern Whip-poor-will calling at dusk one evening in Archuleta County.

The southwestern corner of Colorado is the least birded quadrant. A few birders are living in that corner and more venture to it every year. This is an account of our travels and is meant as suggested places for a visit. Directions to birding locations will be at the end of this article. I won’t mention all the birds found at each location. There just isn’t enough space. However I hope to give a general idea of the birds that were found.

June 11th

Richard left a day after the rest of our group and planned to go owling around the San Isabel National Forest. We met him in Pueblo and then cut down Little Burnt Mill Road (Lariat Road) to check an old Black Phoebe nesting spot (where Burnt Mill Road crosses the St. Charles River, Pueblo County). We found no evidence of Black Phoebes or Eastern Phoebes nesting this year near the old Burnt Mill Road Bridge.

We enjoyed a nice walk down the road across from the Colorado City Caver Middle School. In the past, several uncommon warblers including a Kentucky Warbler have been found here. Eastern Bluebirds are regular visitors to the area. An Eastern Meadowlark was reported here in 2006 and also at nearby Colorado City Cemetery. We found 2 male Eastern Bluebirds on this day.

Nearby Lake Beckwith (Pueblo) was slow. The lake is more known for waterfowl in early winter, but the riparian area below the dam is probably the best passerine potential in the area. Bryan Ehlmann thought he spotted a Black Swift quickly flyby high overhead. None of the rest of us was able to put binoculars on it.

It was nearing the time to more on to the San Isabel National Forest; specifically we wanted to check the St. Charles trail (Custer) for American Three-toed Woodpeckers and Flammulated Owls. It’s a good trail for both; a hike about 3/4 miles up the St. Charles Trail did not find either. Several Gray Jays kept watch of our group. Maybe hoping we would offer or drop some food along the trail.

When we returned to Highway 165, Sue made out a Dusky Grouse crossing the road approximately 200 yards south of the trailhead.

With little daylight remaining, we drove down to Ophir Creek Campgrounds. A few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were still flying around. Downy and Hairy Woodpeckers drummed around the campgrounds. Veerys and Hermit Thrushes sang from high in the trees. Ruby-crowned Kinglets, Steller's Jays, Gray Jays, Mountain Chickadees, Western Tanagers, Cordilleran Flycatchers, and a Clark's Nutcracker were around also.

After dark, we searched for owls at the campgrounds and the hills east of the scout camp located several miles down Ophir Creek Road. We didn’t have success there.

At Richard’s favorite spot, Spring Creek Trail we enjoyed much success. Two Northern Saw-whet Owls called back and forth in the thick woods just 80 yards east of Highway 165. We walked down to the bottom of the trail and heard a Flammulated Owl calling from across the creek.

Later we drove back north to Davenport campgrounds and had another Flammulated Owl answer our callback recordings.

We weren’t on a leisure vacation (that was for sure) and so continued checking Smith Creek, Florence, and North Creek picnic areas. A Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard briefly at Florence Creek; the others were quiet.

We rolled into Westcliffe well after midnight…..well after.

June 12th

Some of us were up early looking for owls at DeWeese Reservoir (Custer). None were found; I didn’t miss anything. After sunrise, Lesser Goldfinches, Pine Siskins, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Lark Sparrows, Townsend's Solitaires, Cassin's Finches, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, Brewer's Blackbirds, Green-tailed Towhees, and Mountain Bluebirds were seen flying around in search of food. Many of the fore mentioned species were observed in nesting behavior.

Gary found a Northern Waterthrush walking around the southwestern edge of the lake. We were surprised by 2 Black Terns flying around catching insects. It seemed very early for them to be around. Or were they late spring migrants?

Swallows included Cliff, Barn, Northern Rough-winged, Bank, Tree, and Violet-green. A Great Egret also searched for food at the southern end while several Wilson's Warblers sang out. The only shorebirds were a couple of Lesser Yellowlegs and Killdeer.

A male Williamson's Sapsucker caught insects and returned them to a hole in an Aspen tree. This habitat does not seem their most favorite as I understand Ponderosa Pine is preferred. Red-naped Sapsuckers, Downy Woodpeckers, and Hairy Woodpeckers were also found.

Gulls included Ring-billed, California, and a lone Franklin's. The Franklin's Gull was considered a good find for up here 7,900 feet in the central part of Custer County.

After lunch we drove up to Hillsdale and checked the loop of Custer County Road 32 (loop with highway 69). Richard enjoys old cemeteries and we birded around the old Hillsdale Cemetery. A flock of 3-5 Eastern Bluebirds flew around the entrance to the Texas Creek Ranch. A pair of Clark's Nutcrackers and a flock of a dozen Pinyon Jays also flew around the loop.

An old friend of Richard’s invited us for dinner and to bird on his land. His ranch was quite soggy but several of the boys tracked through the high weeds. A Sora answered a callback recording and 2 male Bobolinks flew out for them.

With time to spare, we headed southwest of Westcliffe (Middle Taylor Creek and Hermit Pass, Custer County) to look for White-tailed Ptarmigan. Richard had seen ptarmigan on several short hikes before; we thought to give it a try. No ptarmigan were found, but something better.

Richard played a Grace's Warbler tape and to our amazement a male Grace's Warbler responded! We eventually located the bird. It was watched several times picking up insects and returning to the same tree. If the trees had not been down hill/mountain of us, we probably never would have been witness to the (nesting) behavior.

This area is completely out of the known range of Grace's Warblers. We wondered how many additional Grace's Warblers are on the eastern side of the continental divide.

Note (added on July 1st). Andrew Spencer reported 7 Grace's Warblers east of the continental divide today. There maybe many more eastern slope Grace's Warblers than ever imagined.

We returned to the friend’s home and enjoyed a great country dinner (food and conversation) and were also entertained by half a dozen Eastern Bluebirds visiting the ranch’s feeders. The rancher is the grandson of a woman who once owned the whole valley. Circumstances were not kind to her (taxes) and she eventually sold the land for pennies on the dollar of worth.

After dark we headed to check for owls at several eastern slope campgrounds, wildlife areas, and national forests. (Middle Taylor Creek; Conquistador; Avarado and Huerfano). Our count was 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls and a pair of Northern Pygmy-Owls.

June 13th

We spent the night (what was left of it) in Walsenburg. Three of us arose late and birded Lathrop State Park (Huerfano). With a couple of lakes and much riparian areas, it’s one of the best birding locations in the county.

The guys got up after just a couple of hours sleep and went owling around Cuchara and Blue Lake campgrounds. Our plan was to meet up at Trinidad State Park afternoon lunch.

The guys enjoyed fair success by finding Northern Pygmy-Owl, Northern Saw-whet Owl, Common Poorwill, and Dusky Grouse on their trip over Cuharas Pass. They were hoping to find remnants of a flock of Acorn Woodpeckers that had nested several years ago. No sign of any were documented on this trip.

They again had success with Grace's Warbler recordings. Another pair of Grace's Warblers was documented on the eastern side of Cuchara Pass. (This article was revised 6/30 to delete exact owl and warbler locations to protect nesting sites). At our Saturday night board meeting it was decided to re-visit owl sightings in the December Issue of “Colorado Field Notes”. Locations to search for owls in Colorado will be discussed then.

Richard does have another friend with a ranch on the eastern slope. His friend reports a pair of nesting Western Screech-Owls, but has not seen Grace's Warblers or Hepatic Tanagers. Richard donated a field guide about 6 years ago and has given several talks to the locals on bird identifications in their area. They have also seen a couple of Barn Owls east of Cuchara pass.

The CoBus group also tried to find Hepatic Tanager nesting sites and they were successful at only one location. Most Hepatic Tanager nesting sites are on private property and access is very limited. Future trips are already in the making to remedy this!

Back at Lathrop State Park, we found a Northern Waterthrush, 2 Green Herons, and American Redstart. It could not be determined if the Northern Waterthrush and/or American Redstart were nesting in the area. A Greater Roadrunner was run upon (not over) in the northwest corner of the park. They definitely nest in the park.

After lunch we met at the entrance to Trinidad State Park (Las Animas). The park has past reports of a Common Black Hawk, early spring Common Loons, and a possible nesting Rose-breasted Grosbeak. None were found today and we moved on rather quickly. The highlight was a male Ladder-backed Woodpecker; a new county bird for most of us. A check of Trinidad College did not find previously reported White-winged Doves.

Our trip was planned to end the day hiking and owling around the Great Sand Dunes National Park. Time was running short and we decided to skip Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area. It had been several years since Acorn Woodpeckers had been reported there. It is a good location for Hammond's Flycatchers, Cordilleran Flycatchers, Western Wood-pewees, and Bewick's Wrens. It is also one of the few public accesses to find Hepatic Tanagers. It was the site of the first state Acorn Woodpecker sightings in August, 1994.

We left behind Trinidad (Las Animas) and Walsenburg (Huerfano) and entered Costilla County by way of La Veta Pass; then on to the Great Sands Dune N.P. (Alamosa).

It was pretty hot in the late afternoon. We did hike through the woods on the eastern side of the park. A male Williamson's Sapsucker flew around catching insects. Surely a female was around; but we did not locate her.

Broad-tailed Hummingbirds were everywhere. A pair of Gray Flycatchers was seen fly catching at the campgrounds. A Virginia's Warbler was a surprise sighting. Deeper in the woods, a Plumbeous Vireo sang. The real prize was sighting a couple of Black Swifts for our Alamosa County list.

We drove a few miles south to the BLM Land and access to Zapata Falls. The short 1/2 mile hike up to the falls was a welcomed relief from the heat (but not much of one). Two or three Black Swifts were seen flying above the falls. We even saw 2 American Dippers jumping into the pools below the falls.

Our birding day ended with a little owling back at the Sand Dunes. A Western Screech-Owl was heard from the northeastern side of the campgrounds. A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings when we stood 1000 yards further north. Careful watch was kept for bears; they are out there.

June 14th

Up early we searched for Bendire's Thrashers along the Forest Roads north of Del Norte (Rio Grande). Attempts this morning and the next were unsuccessful. We did find many Sage Thrashers, Pinyon Jays in several flocks, and Northern Mockingbirds.

We split into two groups and checked along Forest Roads 560, 640, 660, 646, and 659 (Saguache). The only hint of a Bendire's Thrasher was on FR 659 which goes toward the Natural Arch Campground. Sue thought she saw a larger thrasher, but we were not able to relocate it.

After the day warmed up and success was even less likely, we scoured Monte Vista National Wildlife Refuge and Alamosa NWR, again without success.

Late in the afternoon we headed south into the San Luis Valley. It was here that we ran across a pair of Mountain Plovers (in Rio Grande County). The guys found a Burrowing Owl near Fort Garland; but struck out on a Sage Sparrow search. We found a hovering Short-eared Owl near the entrance to Monte Vista NWR.

After dark we checked Rock Creek and Comstock campgrounds for owls. This evening everything was quiet.

June 15th

Up before sunrise, our 2 vehicle caravan again drove north of Del Norte in an unsuccessful attempt to locate Bendire's Thrashers. We spread out and hiked the rolling dry hills on the BLM land. Before it got too hot, we abandoned the search and headed to the southern part of the San Luis Valley.

The trip to La Jara was interesting, but lacked birds. We at least got a feel for the area and hoped to return later in the fall.

Drives through La Jara, San Acacio, Manassa, Romeo, and Conejos added few birds to our trip list. We hoped for at least some uncommon doves, hummingbirds, or anything.

From Antonito, we headed west and north into the San Juan Wilderness area. The rest of the day was spent stopping at the many campgrounds on the way to Platoro and Summitville. Boreal Owls have been reported at Platoro Reservoir; we did not want to wait around until dark for a search.

We eventually made it back to Del Norte for a quick bite and headed west on 160. We wanted to owl around South Fork, but first continued on to Wolf Creek Pass. It was a good choice as we watched several Black Swifts fly around Treasure Falls on the west side of the pass.

We didn’t have a lot of luck owling the Beaver Creek, Cross Creek, and South Fork (Rio Grande) areas and turned around to head back West. Wolf Creek Campground was quiet also. Further up Forest Road 648 we arrived at West Fork Campgrounds (Mineral) around midnight. A Northern Saw-whet Owl called without our playback tapes. A second owl answered and we watched it fly overhead. Eventually we were able to put a spotlight on it briefly.

July 16th

We spent the night in Pagosa Springs (Mineral). The guys left after a couple of hours sleep for Williams Creek Reservoir (Hinsdale), while we got a couple hours additional sleep. We split up and headed south shortly after sunrise.

We arrived late in the morning at Blanco River Campground (Hinsdale) where we found several Red-naped Sapsuckers and a flock of Evening Grosbeaks. Sue even found a female Dusky Grouse crossing Forest Road 656 as we drove back to Pagosa Springs.

The guys reported that Williams Creek Reservoir was pretty quiet. They did get a Northern Saw-whet Owl to respond briefly to a recording played before sunrise. A couple of Hermit Thrushes sang for them and Bryan heard a Veery. While there are Veerys in Mineral County, this was further south than they have previously been reported. The riparian areas north of the reservoir are rumored to have Fox Sparrows. American Three-toed Woodpeckers should also be in the area.

They are pretty sure that the Greater White-fronted Goose reported at Williams Creek reservoir on 6/25, was not there on 6/16. They also found Red-naped Sapsuckers, Evening Grosbeaks, Black-headed Grosbeaks, and Western Tanagers.

Having never been there, we detoured to Chimney Rock (Archuleta). June 25, 2004 a Hepatic Tanager was reported near the entrance to the park. A long shot, we gave it a try. “Colorado Birds” Andrews and Righter does not show any non-Western Tanager sightings in Archuleta County; but the resource is getting old.

We didn’t find any tanagers but did add a few birds to our Archuleta County List. A pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers worked some trees outside of the entrance. White-throated Swifts fly around once we entered the archaeological site.

Our trek continued south to Navajo Reservoir (Archuleta). Again birding was slow, but it was not the best time of day for a visit. Most likely early winter and early spring are the best times to visit this huge lake that goes into New Mexico. Both Western and Clark's Grebes have been reported here in the summer.

From there we decided to continue east to Pagosa Junction. We made several stops along the way, but found no uncommon birds. One of our target birds for the trip was a Black-chinned Sparrow. They are reported in New Mexico within 20 miles of the Colorado border. Why don’t a few make it into our state? Anyway, we kept our eyes out for them (but never found any during our trip).

Pagosa Junction is an interesting little town; few birds though.

Tried of riding around and with only a few hours of daylight left, we chose to drive up Forest Road 773 and wait until dark to return. Hoping to find a few owls on our way to Durango. At dusk we heard the familiar “whip-poor-will” call. Sure enough, it was just that! The bird even flew across the road for us so that we can say that we saw one. It figured to be the southwest subspecies and we hope to later get sonograms from the audio recordings that we captured. Another project for later in the summer.

Owling was slow this night. We returned to highway 160 by way of Cat Creek Gap (Archuleta). Stopping every couple of miles and listening for owls.

We did hear a Northern Saw-whet Owl once back at hwy 160 and Devil Creek Wildlife Area. Devils Creek and Lower Piedra Campgrounds were also checked; without much action.

We headed to Durango and a well needed and deserved day of rest.

June 17th

We all slept late (well most of us). After a leisure walk around Durango and a nice brunch we were much bored. We took a leisure drive to Weaselskin Bridge (La Plata) not far outside of Durango. A Black Phoebe was fly catching downstream of the bridge. It most likely nests somewhere in the area.

We stopped at Wildcat Canyon and added two Acorn Woodpeckers to our trip list. I guess this cell has been here for many years now. I found reports going back to 1994.

We drove south to the New Mexico border (went over and stood there for a few minutes). Then we headed back up to Durango. Several stops were made to listen for Black-chinned Sparrows. We had debated on whether to checkout a Black-chinned Sparrow location in New Mexico, but decided time would not allow it.

Road 213 and Zink’s Pond were checked out without any memorable sightings. Nothing really stood out.

We ended our birding day at Lake Haviland. A Three-toed Woodpecker was drumming away not far from the lake. A couple of Grace's Warblers sang before sunset. We didn’t stay long after sunset; no owls answered our recordings.

June 18th

At first light, we hiked into Yellow Jacket Canyon (Montezuma) to search for the infamous Lucy’s Warblers. It took about an hour, but we finally heard a Lucy’s Warbler singing. Soon after, a second bird appeared and joined the first. We also heard and later briefly saw a Summer Tanager. So both our target birds were found. A Ladder-backed Woodpecker was also found. This bird seemed very out of place?

The area is very rugged and some of the land is private property. Care should be taken to stay in public areas.

There are so many places to bird in the southwest corner of the state and so little time. We tried to hit the major stops. At Hovenweep National Monument, a rare Scott's Oriole, Gray Flycatchers, and Gray Vireos were added to our trip list. We also found a Gambel's Quail and Black-throated Sparrows nearby. No Lucy’s Warblers were around the Ismay Trading Post and we headed back toward Cortez.

A check at McElmo Creek Road did not find a Hooded Oriole this trip. We did find a Black Phoebe near Ted Floyd’s spot along McElmo Creek Road.

We checked the Mancos River Trading Post south of Cortez and found a couple of Black-chinned Hummingbirds. We hoped that an uncommon hummingbird might come up from New Mexico or Arizona. And they probably do, if one sits there long enough. Last year a Lawrence’s Warbler was reported here. With one in Grand Junction this year, who knows how many are around?

June 19th

Our birding efforts returned to the Cortez area again today. There are many reservoirs to checkout in Montezuma County. McPhee Reservoir itself took most of our efforts. To get a good handle on the bird populations there required most of the day. Most of the bird records from this huge reservoir are during winter and early spring.

We did see Hammond's Flycatchers and a lone Dusky Flycatcher. Warblers included MacGillivray's, Virginia's, Yellow-rumped, Orange-crowned, and Grace's. Red-naped and Williamson's Sapsuckers were also seen in nesting behavior.

Narraguinnep Reservoir to the west of McPhee is another seemingly under-birded area. It probably is better in late fall and early spring.

We split up to bird the lakes east of McPhee. Puett and Summit Wildlife Areas and Mancos State Park were birded as we split into groups of 2. Bauer Lake was really slow.

Highlights included a Peregrine Falcon at McPhee Reservoir. They possibly nest somewhere in the area?

An Ovenbird and Grace's Warblers were observed at Mancos State Park. It was not determined if the Ovenbird is nesting here. The Grace's Warblers definitely exhibited nesting behavior.

Our owling endeavors centered around the campgrounds: McPhee, House Creek, Metasko, Ferris, Cabin, Dolores, Bradford, and Dolores Fork Overlook.

With only two vehicles we were limited to 2 groups. Our total owl count was:

Northern Saw-whet Owl (5)

Northern Pygmy-Owl (2)

Flammulated Owl (2)

Long-eared Owl (2)

We wanted to try for Boreal Owls but time did not permit it. A Spotted Owl search would have been enjoyed but restrictions at Mesa Verde did not permit that. We couldn’t convince the ranger’s to allow us to bird restricted areas and hours.

June 20th

Our troop headed back into the mountains today as we turned up highway 145. The guys basically stayed up all night and explored campgrounds and picnic areas: Forks, Mavreeso, West Dolores, Burro Bridge, and Clayton.

In their limited time, they added 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls, 4 Flammulated Owls, and a Boreal Owl to our trip list.

We birded up Forest Road 556, and then backtracked to Groundhog Reservoir (Dolores) off FR 526. They continued up to Lizard Head Pass and searched areas where White-winged Crossbills have been reported in past years. Neither group enjoyed great success. We did find 4 Purple Martins on the eastern side of Groundhog Reservoir.

We ended our birding day at Lone Cone Wildlife Area (San Miguel). It probably has not been birded much. We did list two dozen species of nesting birds. Probably Grace's Warblers were the best.

The other group ended their birding day at Lizard head pass and went owling on the trip back to Cortez. We added only one Flammulated Owl and one Northern Pygmy-Owl to the trip list. They beat us again with 2 Flammulated Owls and 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls.

June 21st

Today we headed back to hotter country as we drove to Slick Rock (San Miguel). There once was a store there that had hummingbird feeders; it’s gone now. We stopped several times along Highway 141. Gray Flycatchers and Black-throated Gray Warblers were found among the juniper pinon pines along the road. At approximately 4 miles south of Slick Rock Bryan found a Gray Vireo. “Colorado Birds” does not list the bird for San Miguel County.

We birded a really dry, hot, miserable area—Slick Rock Big Gypsum Canyon. What an awful time. Flies and mosquitoes were terrible. The soil appears useless. We didn’t see many birds. But a Scissor-tailed Flycatcher was reported here in June, 1994, so we gave it an attempt to find something usual (not). The area is known for people who want to float down the Dolores River or climb the rock cliffs on either side of the canyon.

For the 3 year in a row, we found and videotaped Bendire's Thrashers on private land in San Miguel County. The landowner has no idea how many years the birds have been coming. Richard Stevens first discovered and videotaped them back in June, 1999. It’s on our agenda to look into the nesting territories in New Mexico and Utah (if any).

We stayed overnight on a private ranch. No owls were heard during the night. Well not quite true, we did hear a Great Horned Owl. Along our trek we have heard several, I guess because they are so common, I forget to mention them. The landowner does see Barn Owls on his ranch, but we were not able to locate any.

June 22nd

Finally we are headed home. We slept late (7:00am). The guys of course took off early to go owling Disappointment Creek (San Miguel). That didn’t sound too promising to us (especially after Big Gypsum Canyon yesterday). They checked Dry Creek Basin and Miramonte without much success.

We met up in Naturita and headed toward Ouray. But first took a side trip to Uravan (Montrose). A Black Phoebe was fly catching along the San Miguel River just north of the Uravan Bridge. In spite of the heat, there were many birds about. The highlight was an Indigo Bunting. Where was he going or coming from? Also added to our Montrose trip list were: Ash-throated Flycatchers, Blue Grosbeak, Western Kingbird, Say's Phoebe, Western Wood-pewee, Yellow Warbler, Turkey Vulture, Yellow-breasted Chat, and several Black-chinned Hummingbirds.

Now we turned around and headed for an early dinner in Ouray.

First we stopped at Box Canyon and watched a couple of Black Swifts flying around. Several flew to nests. We also saw Western Tanagers, Yellow-rumped Warblers, Orange-crowned Warblers, White-throated Swifts, Violet-green Swallows, and a Hermit Thrush.

It was time to head back to Denver for us gals. The guys headed toward Jackson County (Gould) for an owl study. They did stop at McClure Pass Campgrounds and Old McClure Pass where they found a Northern Pygmy-Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl. We on the other hand made the long trip back to Denver by way of Gunnison and Canon City.

The plan is to return in a week or so to the Nucla and Uncompahgre Plateau area for more owling and birding.

A couple of notes. After Saturday’s meeting it was encouraged that I delete the section on Bendire’s Thrashers. For the third year in a row, we did find nesting Bendire's Thrashers. Their location needs to be protected. We have videotapes and audio recorded them. An Arizona expert confirms our identification. More will surely be written about them in the future.

I was going to add directions to all the birding locations. Since everyone received a disk with all the birding locations on it in June’s issue of “Colorado Field Notes” I will ask birders to refer to it. For those who don’t know, you can download all the locations into a single folder on your computer. Then open “countymap.htm” in your browser. Bookmark this opened file and you can return to it anytime you want, without have to use the disk.

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Thanks for Listening!