Saturday, July 28, 2007

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!”

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