Saturday, June 6, 2009

Search for Pileated Woodpecker

May 29 to June 3, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann:

May 29

After hearing about the Pileated Woodpecker report from Telluride we departed Denver about midnight. It took about 8 hours to drive to Telluride.

During the day, Friday we walked the River Trail at least three times. We also walked up and down every street in Telluride at least twice. The town isn't that big.

Hikes along Highway 145 in both east and west directions didn't find any Pileated Woodpeckers. We also checked Forest Roads 632 and 637. No luck.

After dark we went owling and we able to find (hear) a Northern Pygmy-Owl and several Flammulated Owls!

May 30

We again walked the River Trail 2 times and every street in Telluride once before giving up on finding a Pileated Woodpecker. We didn't receive any phone calls that the bird was relocated and decided to move on.

A check around Bridal Veils Falls didn't find any Black Swifts. None were expected as it is just a little early for them to show up.

From Telluride our journey turned south to Lizard Head pass, Dolores County. At dusk we heard a Boreal Owl call from somewhere behind the lake. We would have liked to hike higher up but there was still too much snow to trek through.

May 31

After spending the night in Cortez, we found ourselves at Yellow Jacket Canyon at sunrise. It took several hours for us to locate a pair of Lucy's Warblers. If one of them hadn't been singing, we would have missed them completely.

Along the hike a Summer Tanager was also found singing! The hike was a cornucopia of birds which also included a Scott's Oriole, Black-throated Gray Warblers, Black-throated Sparrows, Gray Flycatchers, a MacGillivray's Warbler, Ash-throated Flycatchers, Gray Vireo and Plumbeous Vireo!

Our trek circled north to Slick Rock where there is nothing there any longer. We drove down Disappointment Valley in search of Curve-billed or Bendire's Thrashers, but found neither.

At Uravan we saw a Black Phoebe downstream from the old bridge.

Running out of daylight, we continued to the Uncompahgre Plateau. We hadn't heard about the Lesser Nighthawks at the Nucla Sewer Ponds, passed nearby but didn't stop.

After dark we found 2 Flammulated Owls along the Telephone draw trail on the Uncompahgre Plateau. On the way up we checked the old Northern Saw-whet Owl boxes up one of the draws west of the gate into the plateau. The boxes are in disrepair and it doesn't look like owls have used them in several years.

June 1

In the morning we found Red-naped Sapsuckers across the road from the Telephone draw trail. Two Grace's Warblers responded to a recording near Carson's Hole.

After lunch in Grand Junction we searched for the Lucy's Warbler reported a few weeks ago in Rabbit Valley but didn't find it. A check of several previous locations of Scott's Orioles found them north of Rabbit Valley and up Brewster's Ridge. They were not found in Rabbit Valley south of I70, at Roads 2 and M.80 or Snake Creek.

The rest of the afternoon was spent relocating Long-eared Owls successfully (gps waypoints upon request) and then going to Baxter Pass. We found a Northern Saw-whet Owl before dark on Baxter Pass, then turned around and drove east to Douglas Pass Road.

After dark and after midnight Flammulated Owls were found at three locations on Douglas Pass Road. Two in Mesa County and one in Garfield County.

June 2

We detoured over Cross Mountain to Oxbow Wildlife Area. Here both Sage Sparrows and Sage Thrashers could be seen from the parking area. The wildlife area is closed for the protection of nesting birds, but both our target birds responded to recordings and came out of the sage to see what the commotion was.

Our attempt to reach the Timberlake Greater Sage-Grouse Leks from Highway 318 and Ninemile Basin was not successful because of muddy roads. We had to turn around, drive east to Craig and go up highway 13.

We explored Moffat County Roads 2 and 4 just to see what was up there. A Greater Sage-Grouse crossed CR 4 near the open fence about 3 miles west of highway 13. There was some confusion as to whether this is Moffat County Road 4 or 3. It is marked different on several maps. Hundreds of Vesper Sparrows roamed the hills south of the Wyoming border.

In the afternoon we drove up to California Park, up the 80 Route Road. In previous years White-winged Crossbills have been reported but none were found today. At dusk we looked for grouse at the Greater Sage-Grouse, Sharp-tailed Grouse and Dusky Grouse "leks"; none showed up. Guess they are done for this spring? We also tried unsuccessfully to call up the Northern Saw-whet Owl that had called in May.

June 3

We tried to find White-winged Crossbills north of Steamboat Springs but again had no luck. Three-toed Woodpeckers and any crossbills were missed on Rabbit Ears pass too.

The rest of our day was spent in the Colorado State Forest checking owl boxes for Boreal Owls again without success.

After dark we did find Boreal Owls at two places around Cameron Pass. On the way back to Denver by way of Fort Collins we also found 2 Flammulated Owls on Pennock pass.

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