Monday, October 15, 2007

Owling and "The Little Sit"

October 14, 2007

Randy Cross and I started out owling about 3:00am. Before sunrise we enjoyed medium success. Partial view of a Northern Pygmy-Owl at White Ranch Open Space (Jefferson County). We heard another Northern Pygmy-Owl at Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Jefferson). We then headed up to Rollinsville by way of the Peak to Peak Highway.

Along the trek we stopped every 0.5 mile and listened for owls. Heard 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls (Boulder), observed none. No Flammulated Owls, it is late in the season for them (however, we did hold out hope that we might come across a late migrating Flammulated Owl). No Boreal Owls, we were not high enough (elevation) for them.

We returned to Denver by way of Hwy 72. Throughout the earlier morning and the whole day for that matter, we ran into rain and more rain.

In the afternoon we sat for three hours at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). It was part of a competition started last year to see how many birds could be found in 3 hours. The 3 hour time limit was an accident. When we started this "little sit" as we call it, weather turned so bad last year that we had to quit after 3 hours.

This year we had three teams of two. Total species were: 28, 27, 27. Further rules for anyone who cares: teams can pick any spot in the park to sit and any 3 hour time period. It is an interesting exercise at a slow time of the year.

The highlight for the two teams with 27 species was a Red-necked Grebe. The winning team missed the Red-necked Grebe but added Sandhill Cranes heard flying overhead and a Swamp Sparrow (heard in the cattails west of the bird platform).

Other notables included a 4th cycle Lesser Black-backed Gull and Great Egret. We hoped for an early scoter or loon; none showed up.

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