Monday, July 21, 2008

Search for Flammulated & Boreal Owls

July 19 & 20, 2008

Ed Peters and I planned on owling west of Fort Collins.

On the trip up we made the 22 mile side trip east to Highway 14 and County Road 51. We found a Mountain Plover in about 20 minutes and turned back west.

Once we reached Larimer CR 44H, we stopped every 0.2 miles and searched for Common Poorwills. Birds were found along CR 44H, west of CR 63E (0.7 miles, 0.9 miles, & 1.3 miles).

We enjoyed a beautiful night in the mountains. The moon was no longer full (waning gibbous with 88% of the Moon's visible disk); it still provided much light and we were able to walk around without flashlights. Winds were negligible both on Pennock Pass and Cameron Pass.

In my experience, this is quite unusual. The biggest drawback in finding Boreal Owls is picking a night when winds are calm or mild. They just do not call loud enough to hear them over any wind.

Our search for Flammulated Owls on Pennock Pass went well. We found owls at both stops made. It never took more than 10 minutes to find them.

We were amazed at how noisy the woods were at 11:00pm. Chipping Sparrows, Cassin's Finches, and a couple of other birds that we could not quite identify sang constantly.

Our search for Boreal Owls on Cameron Pass did not go quite as well. We stopped at Joe Wright Reservoir, Cameron Pass's Summit, and the Pines Campgrounds. All the places where I had success already this year were not this night.

We must have stopped at 18 places to hike around and listen. My two most successful spots were too far from a road for Ed. (The two spots require hikes of over 6 miles).

Finally at 4:28 am, we ran into a calling Boreal Owl up Ruby Jewell Road in the Colorado State Forest. Twice, we hiked the road from Michigan Creek Road (CR 41) to about a mile east. The second try was successful!

Again the area was quite noisy. We picked out Chipping Sparrows, Finches, a Common Nighthawk, Pine Siskins, and American Goldfinches.

Tired, we crawled back to Denver, arriving well after sunset.

Late Sunday afternoon (after temperatures cooled down from the 100 degree high), Rebecca Kosten and I drove the DIA Owl Loop. We really hoped to find a Short-eared Owl (did not) but counted 19 Burrowing Owls (this included 4 just west of the closed barrier at Rocky Mountain Arsenal (along Buckley Road, south of 88th avenue).

We also found 1 Ferruginous Hawk (near 114th & Granbay), several Swainson's Hawks, 1 Red-tailed Hawk, and 2 Northern Harriers.

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