Friday, April 24, 2009

Grouse Trip Day 6

April 22, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Mary Ewing, Bob Bucci, & I visited the 80 Route Leks this morning. We found 3 Sharp-tailed Grouse leks and 2 Greater Sage-Grouse leks. The air along 80 Route was filled with sounds of both. There were many birds and much fun watching.

Best locations from most birds to least (not necessarily how we visited them):

Drive down California Gulch Road to the red wooden gate on east side of road (see directions on CoBus website; under 80 Route Leks). We stopped just north of the red gate and scoped the field about 100 yards to the west side of the road. About 17 males and 3 female Greater Sage-Grouse were "doing their thing" here.

We then drove up the hill to the south, stopped just before the sign for Jimmy Dunn State Trust Lands. Sharp-tailed Grouse displayed in the sage right next to the east side of the road.

Returning south, we stopped up the hill across from the white sign for Wolf Mountain Ranch. About 14 Sharp-tailed Grouse displayed about 50 feet off the east side of the road. The birds were easy to hear but required some close inspection of the sage to see them.

We noticed the difference in technique. The Greater Sage-Grouse displaying in an open field; while the Sharp-tailed Grouse running in sage as tall as themselves, stomping and clucking along.

A second Greater Sage-Grouse is quite far from the road at 2.5 miles south of the second cattle guard.

Bob and I continued to Loveland Pass where we spent 3.5 hours searching for White-tailed Ptarmigan. We scoped the eastern and western slopes south of the summit; without success (hoping to not have to make the 0.8 mile climb up the western slope trail).

Finally resigning ourselves to make the climb, we started up the trail. When we got 15 feet off highway 6, I spotted two White-tailed Ptarmigan 20 feet below us! Thanks to the Ptarmigan for saving us from the long climb!

We ended our birding day at Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson). A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was quickly found around the group picnic area.

Partially sunny skies, no wind, and a potential fantastic sunset convinced us to walk up to the top of the park. There we got great views of 2 male and a female Williamson's Sapsucker. Along the way we found many Western Bluebirds, Pygmy Nuthatches, and a White-breasted Nuthatch or two. A colorful sunset and great view of Denver were added bonuses.

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