Saturday, April 11, 2009

Search for Owls, Cameron and Pennock Passes

April 10-11, 2009

Richard Stevens:

After dark, Henry Nagy and I drove up to Cameron Pass to search for Boreal Owls. I was more interested in Flammulated Owls while both were lifebirds for Henry.

The lack of wind was surprising. I have not found a good way to estimate (guess) what the winds will be doing up at Cameron Pass while I am in Denver. The only yard stick I have is that if it is windy on the plains, then sometimes and only sometimes, the winds at 10,276 feet may be calmer. This was the case this night.

We stopped and listened for Boreal Owls every 0.2 miles for 1.5 miles either side of the summit. This night we were quite fortunate as three owls were heard. I was even able to get one of the owls briefly in my spotlight. Write me through the Colorado Birding Society if you would like hints on how to locate these fascinating birds.

Afterwards (by now it was 1:00am) we drove up to Pennock Pass by way of Prairie Stove Road. The road is still blocked by snow at the turn east (Larimer CR 44H) toward the pass. This is usually the case into the middle of May and sometimes into June.

I do have an early date of 3/16 in 2004 and one other date before May of April 21 of 2006. The median of first dates of reports is May 17th. I have always thought this quest warrants a snow shoe or cross country ski trip up in late April or early May for further study. One problem is that the trip is 7.4 miles one way and would end in the dark. Got to find someone interested in the trek!

On the way back down to Highway 14, we stopped every 0.2 miles for the first four miles and listened for Flammulated Owls. None were heard this night and not necessarily expected. Finding an early date for Flammulated Owls returning to Colorado is quite difficult. Access to many of their nesting locations is always limited by our winter snow fall.

No comments: