Sunday, March 15, 2009

Larimer & Adams Counties

March 14, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Gary Weston and I birded Larimer County today. Temperatures may have reached the 50s; winds were mild to calm.

We waited at Wellington Wildlife Area before sunrise for Short-eared Owls; none flew around this morning. Three Long-eared Owls were found in the northeastern windbreak. We wanted to check because today (Saturday) is the last day the property is open to the public until July 15th.

Next we drove south to Fossil Creek Reservoir and Swede Lake. In two hours neither last week's Eurasian Wigeon or Greater Scaups could be found. There were no geese to speak of around the property.

We checked as many of the bodies of water around Loveland as time allowed in search of uncommon gulls. A Glaucous Gull was found on the east side of Donath Lake. After 10 minutes, it took off and flew west. No luck was had at Duck Lake, Horseshoe Lake, Boyd Lake, Lake Loveland, Windsor Lake, Timnath Reservoir, and a few others.

In the afternoon Rebecca Kosten and I hiked the east side of Rocky Mountain Arsenal (Buckley Road from 56th to 88th avenues in search of an early Burrowing Owl arrival; without success.

The 8 mile round trip is a nice exercise but too time consuming at 3.5 to 4 hours. We are going to have to tune up our mountain bikes for future treks.

There was no wind at all and once the hum of the car tires on Pena Blvd (500 yards to the east) was ignored we listened to singing Western Meadowlarks, an occasional scolding by an American Robin, and the ranting of 3 flocks of European Starlings (totaling 341 birds).

A flock of 81 Dark-eyed Juncos (Oregon, Pink-sided, Slate-colored) near the creek was joined by 2 White-crowned Sparrows, 2 Song Sparrows, and 5 American Tree Sparrows.

Raptor sightings included 1 Prairie Falcon, a pair of American Kestrels, 2 Rough-legged Hawks, 1 Ferruginous Hawk, and 1 Red-tailed Hawk.

There were no Burrowing Owls along the DIA Owl Loop either. The immature Rough-legged Hawk was in the same spot as yesterday. The Ferruginous Hawk stood on the telephone poles where 96th avenue turns east from north of the Prairie Dog Village (at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road).

March 14 is my early date for a Burrowing Owl in Adams County. Most first sightings are between 3/25 and 3/30.

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