Thursday, November 6, 2008

Guanella Pass and Ptarmigan

November 5, 2008

Richard Stevens:

Gary Weston, Kevin Story, Brad Phillips and I drove up to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County). The area received 3-4 inches of snow overnight; it was snowing slightly while we were up there.

A light blanket of new snow is always a blessing when looking for White-tailed Ptarmigan. Searching for the well camouflaged birds is a task. Looking for fresh tracks always makes the dilemma easier.

Sure enough, we found tracks in about 10 minutes. Less than 10 minutes later, two Ptarmigan were observed walking west of the 603 Trail and about 200 yards uphill (south) of the Rosalie Trail (note sign in box at the junction).

There could have been additional ptarmigan there, but we did not want to disturb them and returned to our car. A few White-crowned Sparrows are still up there also.

A stop at Guanella Pass Campgrounds did not find any American Three-toed Woodpeckers today. No birds were around Clear Creek Campgrounds either.

After being dropped back at my car, I headed over to Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). The weather was much different than the last two days. Temperatures were 20 degrees lower and winds were 10+ mph faster.

The Rough-legged Hawk was perched on a Rabbit Brush bush just south of the entrance to the Cottonwood Creek Loop. Half a dozen Bonaparte's Gulls again stood on the sand spit off the Bird Observation Platform.

I scoped the lake but did not find yesterdays Black Scoters or Monday's Red-necked Grebe. Waterfowl numbers were definitely lower than the pass few days. No uncommon gulls stood with the hundred Ring-billed and dozen California Gulls on the southwest sandbar.

However, there is one California Gull that is much darker than the others. Yesterday it made me look twice but still conclude that it is a California Gull or hybrid.

The fourteen Ruddy Ducks were still out there. The pelicans and Double-crested Cormorants have not yet moved south. In two hours, I was not able to locate any loons.

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