Monday, October 29, 2007

Birding South Park

October 21 to 26, 2007

October 21st

Bill Cryder, Jerry Petrosky, Terry Michaels and I struck birded around Arapahoe County today.

We enjoyed good success. A Surf Scoter was swimming around the east side of Aurora Reservoir. Our loon count was up to 5; most of them swimming in the southeast corner of the reservoir. A flock of 9 American Tree Sparrow

October 22nd

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed up to Park County to see if any scoters were migrating through South Park. Our route was roundabout as we went through Loveland Pass, then Leadville, and then down to Park County.

We were at Loveland Pass at sunrise and counted 14 White-tailed Ptarmigan below the ridge on the east side of the road!

We had lunch with a friend and his wife in Summit County and took up their invitation to stay the night and play bridge. The weather was poor so we took them up on it.

October 23rd

Besides, we woke up to Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Grosbeaks coming to their feeders! A check of Blue River Water Treatment Plant (Summit) did not find any Barrow's Goldeneyes.

We made a detour to the A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary to see if any American Three-toed Woodpeckers could be found. None were found, but we birded mostly from our car.

Bryan and I worked our way west and south to Leadville (Lake). Turquoise Lake was quiet, birdwise. We drove up to Independence Pass (base, not the top) and searched for owls.

Finally we heard an owl. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was calling from the northwest corner of Twin Lakes. We stopped at the traditional Rosy Finch house near Granite, none have been seen yet this fall.

October 24th

We stayed the night in Buena Vista and headed out at 2:00am in search of owls. Two Northern Saw-whet Owls were found in their traditional Pinyon-Juniper Woodlands east of town. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was found west of town as we drove up to the top of Cottonwood Pass (Chaffee).

While looking for Lewis's Woodpeckers around town, a lady came out and described an owl she had been seeing. She took us over to the tree and there was a Western Screech-Owl looking out!

Finally we reached Park County east of Buena Vista. We spent most the afternoon counting the many birds on Antero Reservoir. The highlights were 2 Greater Scaup, a Pacific Loon, 7 Surf Scoters, 4 Black Scoters, and one White-winged Scoter. In addition 3 Common Loons and a Pacific Loon were also found.

What a treasure! It's not often one can find the triple crown of scoters at on one lake!

With only an hour of light remaining and winds picking up to 35+ mph, we decided to return to our motel in Buena Vista.

October 25th
For once we did not get up at 2:00 or 4:00 am. We passed Buena Vista Overlook on the drive east to Park County reservoirs. Five Pinyon Jays flew around below the hill to the west.

We hit Antero Reservoir first to see if yesterday's birds were still there. Numbers were slightly down which might have indicated that the birds had moved to the nearby reservoirs.

A careful scoping of the lake convinced us that the White-winged Scoter was definitely gone. Both of the other scoter numbers were down to 2 Black Scoters and 2 Surf Scoters. Loons included 2 Common Loons and 1 Pacific Loon. An addition at Antero Reservoir was 2 Trumpeter Swans!

We headed to Spinney Mountain Reservoir to cautiously count scoters there. The scoter count at Spinney was 5 Surf Scoters and 1 Black Scoter. To err on the conservative side, we concluded that the Surf Scoters were from Antero Reservoir and no addition Black Scoters had flown into Park County during the night. The White-winged Scoter was not relocated during our stay.

Additions to our trip list were 4 Common Loons swimming around on Spinney Reservoir. There were another 4 Common Loons on Eleven Mile Reservoir (on which there were no scoters).

On the way back to Buena Vista for the night, we checked on the 2 Trumpeter Swans. There had been joined by 5 Tundra Swans!

We also made a detour to the top of Weston Pass. There had been a report of a Boreal Owl heard at the top. We did not find that, but did hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl at a stop about 0.4 miles into the riparian area first encountered west of Highway 285.

October 26th
While we were not as through with our scoter count today. We did get:
Antero Reservoir: 4 Surf Scoter, 2 Black Scoter, no White-winged Scoter
Spinney Reservoir: 3 Surf Scoter, 1 Black Scoter, no White-winged Scoter
Eleven Mile Reservoir: 4 Common Loons, no scoters

Swan count today was 5 Trumpeter Swan and 5 Tundra Swans. Clearly they were migrating through and there was no way for us to determine if we were counting the same birds.

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