Friday, May 16, 2008

Spring Counts

Gary Weston:

We only conducted 3 official counts this spring mostly due to the weather conditions. Several days we were met with torrential rains and winds over 50+ mph.

May 11, 2008

Weather was again the topic of the day. Anemometer readings were a constant 24 mph with gusts to 39 mph. We split up 8 people into 4 groups and covered Jumbo Reservoir, Red Lion Wildlife Area, and Tamarack Ranch as best we could.

We conducted the Spring Counts like Christmas Counts. Seven and a half mile radius circle with the epicenter at Logan County Road 89, south of Highway 138. Four of us did some owling which added a couple of owls and increased total birder hours.

Birder hours: 118 Miles Driven 120 Miles walked: 31


Owls included a Short-eared Owl between Red Lion WLA and Jumbo Reservoir. A Barn Owl and 2 Great Horned Owls were found at Jumbo Reservoir. We only heard 3 Eastern Screech-Owls today, at two locations 3 sections apart.

Red-bellied Woodpeckers numbered 7 at Tamarack Ranch WLA and 1 at Red Lion.

A few warblers were around: a nice western Palm Warbler; 2 Black-and-white Warblers, 1 Northern Waterthrush, 1 Common Yellowthroat, and 1 Orange-crowned Warbler. Not that many for such a large area covered.

Sparrows included 2 Field Sparrows and a White-throated Sparrow at Tamarack Ranch WLA and another White-throated Sparrow at Red Lion.

The Northern Cardinal count was a surprising 7 males and 1 female.

Misses: any prairie chickens or grouse; Red-headed Woodpeckers, cuckoos

Total: 116 species; 1106 individuals

May 12, 2008

Weather hadn't improved much today. Winds were again clocked at a steady 27 mph with gusts into the 40s. At least we did not see any rain. Last night there was a downpour. The noise alone probably kept our bird numbers down. Today we only had 7 birders split in 3 groups. The center of the count area was near the Wagon Wheel Campground entrance.

Birder hours: 102; Miles Driven 47; Miles walked: 18


Misses: The Purple Finches from last winter were all gone. No one could locate a Greater Prairie-Chicken today. Winds made it difficult to get a good count on many of the birds that hid in the grasses and bushes.

Owls included 2 Eastern Screech-Owls and 2 Burrowing Owls.

Two Common Poorwills at Hale Ponds were a nice surprise late in the evening.

Red-bellied Woodpecker count was only 3 and lower than anticipated.

Warblers counted included: Tennessee Warbler, Orange-crowned Warbler, Yellow Warbler, Chestnut-sided Warbler, Yellow-rumped Warbler, Black-throated Green Warbler, Palm Warbler, Blackpoll Warbler, Black-and-White Warbler, Northern Waterthrush, and Common Yellowthroat.

The only tanager found was an adult male Summer Tanager.

Sparrows included: Clay-colored Sparrow, Brewer's Sparrow, Vesper Sparrow, Lark Sparrow, Savannah Sparrow, Song Sparrow, Lincoln's Sparrow, White-throated Sparrow, White-crowned Sparrow, and Harris's Sparrow.

We also found an adult male Baltimore Oriole and 2 Bullock's Orioles.

Total: 138 species 1453 individuals

May 13, 2008

There was no spring count today. We birded our way up from Bonny Reservoir back to Julesburg. It was the finest birding day of the week. Visiting many different locations that were miles apart added a variety of habitats and birds.

This was also the best day of weather we encountered all week. Winds "died down" into the middle teens. Skies were partly cloudy instead of overcast.

Some of the birds we saw included:

At two private yards in Wray we saw a total of 5 male and 2 female Northern Cardinals. A Fox Sparrow wandered around under the feeders at one of the yards.

At Sandsage Wildlife Area outside of Wray we found many sparrows; White-crowned, Lark, Chipping, and Vesper. A Harris's Sparrow molting into adult plumage was among them.

At Beecher Island site of an Indian Battle we enjoyed a good list of birds. These birds included a Tennessee Warbler and Cassin's Vireo.

At Sandy Bluff State Trust Land a Blackpoll Warbler was added to our day list.

We walked around Holyoke's City Park for about 30 minutes and found 2 Blackpoll Warblers and a Tennessee Warbler. An adult male Baltimore Oriole was also in the park.

At Haxtun City Park an additional Blackpoll Warbler was seen plus our first Black-and-White Warbler of the day.

Continuing north we stopped at Sand Draw Wildlife Area for about an hour. We split into two groups and circled in opposite directions. Bird sightings included: Harris's Sparrow, a male Indigo Bunting, a Field Sparrow, and Blue-headed Vireo!

At the Colorado Visitor's Center near Julesburg one of the attendants gave a tip on a male Northern Cardinal that was visiting a feeder nearby. We hurried over there and got good looks at the male.

Our next stop was the Julesburg Wayside Rest Stop. Eastern Towhees have been reported here in the past. There were few birds but we did see a male Baltimore Oriole west of the parking lot.

After that we stopped at DePoorter Lake and circled the lake with a side trip to the South Platte River. Two Harris's Sparrows were in the willows along the Platte. A Red-eyed Vireo was in willows around the old city dump area. A Black-throated Green Warbler surprised us by singing high in the cottonwoods also near the old dump. We heard a Northern Bobwhite but never could find it.

We ended our day with a big barbecue back at Roger Danka's farm. Great food and we heard Common Poorwills at dusk and Eastern Screech-Owls about an hour later.

May 14, 2008

Our final spring count was conducted at North Sterling State Park. It was limited in scope as we were down to just 4 birders. We also did not arrive until 8:00 am as we made a quick stop at Ovid.

Eurasian Collared-Doves were easy to find at the north Ovid Woods. We saw a Brown Thrasher and heard but did not see a Red-bellied Woodpecker at the south Ovid Woods. Interesting birds included a Hooded Warbler and Blackpoll Warbler. We never found any Northern Cardinals or Purple Finches around town.

Our Sterling spring count really was just a walk around the campgrounds and the southeast side of the reservoir.

Birder hours: 24 Miles Driven 8 Miles walked: 6

Species: 82 Individuals: 519


A Barn Owl was seen in the trees at the northeast corner.

Our only hummingbird went unidentified.

Thrushes included 6 Swainson's, 1 Veery, and 1 Gray-cheeked Thrush!

Our only warblers were 8 Yellow-rumped Warblers and 1 Black-and-White Warbler.

No tanagers or unexpected sparrows were found. Two Bullock's Orioles were about all of that.

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