Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Search for Prairie Warbler

June 25, 2008

I arrived at Castlewood Canyon State Park around 4:00am and walked several roads outside of the park in search of owls (mainly Northern Saw-whet Owls) again without success. Driving through the park I stopped several times to listen. Many birds were singing including Spotted Towhees, Plumbeous Vireos, Lazuli Buntings, and American Robins.

Note: As I conducted my "hearing only" point counts through Castlewood Canyon State Park, it became interesting that at the various stops many of the birds were of the same species.

One stop had 3 Plumbeous Vireos, another Lazuli Buntings, one had 4 Cordilleran Flycatchers singing, another Black-headed Grosbeaks. Too many stops had numerous Spotted Towhee singing.

A question that came to mind was were the many birds of the same species singing because they had competition from peers or were they just doing "their thing"? That maybe worth additional investigation.

The highlight was a Common Poorwill on the west side of Castlewood Canyon Road, just outside the southwest entrance to the park. I stood here from 5:30 to 6:30 listening to birds and waiting for good light for a search for the Prairie Warbler. Several Willow Flycatchers sang to the east. A Least Flycatcher joined in for 30 minutes. Wild Turkey gobbled in the distant south.

At 6:30 I drove south to the Winkler Ranch. In the field of tall grasses south of the cut field near the entrance to the ranch, at least 12 male Bobolink sang while perched on the taller scrubs. At least one female Bobolink flew around. Three male Blue Grosbeaks were found on the fence line on the trip back into the park.

From 7:00am to 9:00am another birder and I searched for the Prairie Warbler. The previously reported cairn marker was not to be found so we walked the Falls Trail from the parking area to the dam at least four times; without success.

At 9:00am I called Glenn Walbek to see if he could provide more detailed instructions to the bird's location. Glenn was more than gracious and drove over to show us the spot. We waited about 20 minutes or so and the female Prairie Warbler finally put in an appearance!

During the morning trek many birds were encountered. Dozens of Spotted Towhees called and flew about. I found a male Indigo Bunting just below the old broken down dam. At least 5 male Lazuli Buntings were in the neighborhood. The other birder discovered a female Lazuli Bunting close to the Prairie Warbler location. We also heard at least 4 Plumbeous Vireos and managed to put binoculars on one of them.

We examined the numerous Turkey Vultures flying overhead, hoping that the reported Black Vulture of Loveland had made its way back down south. A Cooper's Hawk chased a Red-tailed Hawk at one point. A Sharp-shinned Hawk also flew by. We might have gotten glimpses of a Prairie Falcon that flew through quite rapidly.

I believe that covers most of the birds. Oh, we did see half a dozen Cordilleran Flycatchers hawking insects. Also a couple of unidentified Empidonax Species also were in the mix.

I headed for home for a few hours of sleep (having been up for about 42 hours). A quick stop at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe) found the male Black-chinned Hummingbird perched atop a short tree at the east end of the parking area for the Ranger's Office. No (non Killdeer) shorebirds were at the southeast sand spit. Few gulls were around. American White Pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants stood on the poles lining the southwest marina.

In the late afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove the DIA Owl Loop hoping a Short-eared Owl would appear. None did, but the Burrowing Owl count was 11 (four locations).

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