Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Western Slope Birding Trip (part 5)

Bryan Ehlmann: Hello cobirders,

Over the next three weeks I will be leading the CoBus summer birding tour. Sue and I are the core of the group and we will be joined at times by up to 7 other birders including Richard Stevens, Rebecca Kosten, Gary Weston, Jerry Petrosky, a few other Colorado birders and a couple of out of state birders.

Unfortunately the format of this blog doesn't allow chronological order of our trip. See Parts 1, 2, 3, and 4 below.

July 27

Our little tour was splitting up for a couple of days. We planned to turn north to Montrose and Delta Counties while the Weston group returned to Lake City and Mineral County.

Ehlmann group:

Our stops today included Cimarron Wildlife Area and Fish Creek and Silver Jack Reservoirs. Campgrounds included Big Cimarron, Beaver Lake, and Silver Jack. Unfortunately High Park Lake and Buckhorn Lakes Park were beyond the amount of time we had.

The usual mountain species were recorded in good numbers. We found both Evening Grosbeaks and Pine Grosbeaks at the campgrounds. We waited until dark at Cowboy Reservoir which is very interesting to get to, even in a 4 wheel drive jeep. A Northern Pygmy-Owl or two answered our recordings.

A Northern Saw-whet Owl called west of Beaver Lake. Another Saw-whet Owl was found just south of Big Cimarron. The Fish Creek Reservoirs were also interesting to get around. We hoped for a Flammulated Owl but had to settle for two Northern Pygmy-Owls.

On the way up we stopped at several potential Long-eared Owl locations, without success. Big Cimarron Ranch looked to have good habitat for Long-eared Owls, but we could find no one around to ask for permission to search.

Weston group:

Our interests led us back to Lake City, Hinsdale County. Our itinerary was to bird Engineer Pass to Ouray, then return tomorrow to take the North Fork cutoff to the Las Animas fork to Silverton. Parts of these roads definitely require a high clearance 4 wheel drive vehicle. Some experience in 4 wheel driving is very helpful.

Engineer Pass Road which runs along Henson Creek has several interesting stops. Whitmore Falls is a short downhill hike; but the trek back up is strenuous. We didn't know if it would attract Black Swifts, returned near sunset, found no Black Swifts.

We counted birds to Engineer Pass' summit and beyond to the North Fork Cutoff, then returned back to Capitol City (once hoped to be the Capitol of Colorado, of course never happened).

The prize of the day (night) was a Boreal Owl calling near Yellowstone Gulch north of Capitol City. This is in Hinsdale County. It was the only owl we had tonight.

July 28

Ehlmann group:

Our main focus today was to be Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park in the late afternoon. We took the northern route up highway 92 toward the National Park. Birded Mesa Creek Campgrounds and detoured up to Gould Reservoir in Montrose County and Crawford State Park in Delta County.

Later we returned hwy 92 to hwy 50 and west to Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park. Sue found an American Dipper along the river at the East Portal. We asked around and kept our eyes open for Long-eared Owls but found none. They have been reported to nest in the park.

Dusky Grouse were seen crossing the road at several points as we drove to the west end of the South Rim Drive. We hiked to Warner Point where Northern Pygmy-Owls were seen back in April. We didn't find any there, but heard one about halfway back to the parking lot. We stopped at most of the overlooks and got no response to our owl recordings.

On the way back to Crawford we again stopped at Gould Reservoir and Crawford State Park. We did get a response from a Northern Pygmy-Owl at Crawford State Park. For the most part, owls were quiet tonight.

Weston group:

After camping and getting a few hours of sleep, we drove south down the North Creek cutoff and continued toward Silverton by way of the Las Animas Fork (which runs along the Las Animas River). Instead of driving all the way to Silverton, we took the Stony Pass Road at Howardsville. This road goes along the Rio Grande River to Pole Creek Trailhead. The crossing at Pole Creek can be potentially very dangerous to vehicles. It can be very deep even in the middle of summer. We opted to not continue from that point, but turned around.

We didn't see too much potential in owling and backtracked before dark to Engineer Pass. After dark we continued west to Ouray. Our only owl of the night was a Northern Saw-whet Owl near Poughkeepsie Gulch Road.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Western Slope Birding Trip (part 4)

Bryan Ehlmann: Hello cobirders,

July 26

Over the next three weeks I will be leading the CoBus summer birding tour. Sue and I are the core of the group and we will be joined at times by up to 7 other birders including Richard Stevens, Rebecca Kosten, Gary Weston, Jerry Petrosky, a few other Colorado birders and a couple of out of state birders.

Unfortunately the format of this blog doesn't allow chronological order of our trip. See Parts 1 ,2 and 3 below.

Our groups really took diverse routes today. One birded north of Blue Mesa Reservoir and the other south.

Ehlmann group:

Two of our main target birds today were Yellow-billed Cuckoos and Western Screech-Owls. We checked several probable habitats for both. I dislike giving up one of our techniques, but whenever we ran into interested locals we played recordings on our IPOD to see if anyone had heard cuckoos or Western Screech-Owls.

Live and learn, both birds were found with the help of local residents. We heard of two possible locations for Yellow-billed Cuckoos. One of them panned out and a Yellow-billed Cuckoo answered our recordings (between Gunnison and Blue Mesa Reservoir).

One resident led us to another who knew another and finally we were given locations of two Western Screech-Owls. They have been heard year round and surely nest in their territories. One cooperative female landowner even took us on her property to see a Western Screech-Owl. She had seen young just a week earlier.

No matter what happened during the rest of our day, we had a good one. Campgrounds birded included Soap Creek and Commissary up Forest Road 721.

We birded Forest Road 724 about an hour before dusk and were rewarded with two calling Common Poorwill. Between Forest Roads 724 and 721 we added 3 Northern Saw-whet Owls to our night list.

Our big miss, though not unexpected, was a couple of hour search before dawn for Long-eared Owls. We got wind that they were in the area; but none responded to our tapes. We were handicapped by having to stay on public property.

Weston group:

We had previous knowledge for both Flammulated and Boreal Owls. Our dilemma was arriving at an out of the way location just after sunset. Especially because we wanted to visit other places also. We wanted to drive CR 30 to Vulcan about an hour before sunrise. This gave us five hours to explore CR 26 (Sapinero Mesa Road).

After leaving Highway 149, CR 26 is known for Three-toed Woodpeckers and Ponderosa Pine and Conifer Forests. We first drove to the south side of Blue Mesa Reservoir, counted birds and backtracked toward hwy 149.

During a 4 mile hike on the BLM land we found 4 Three-toed Woodpeckers (3 Locations) and a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers.

Next we hurried to CR 30. With the help of many stops, 2 Flammulated Owls (2 Locations) and a very fortunate Boreal Owl calling were added to our list.

We returned to CR 26 and stopped every 0.5 mile to play recordings. Another Flammulated Owl and 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls (2 Locations) were encountered.

Just before civil twilight we made it to Big Blue CG off Alpine Road (Forest Road 868). It's not the easiest place to get to, but our bonus was hearing another Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Western Slope Birding Trip (part 3)

Bryan Ehlmann: Hello cobirders,

Over the next three weeks I will be leading the CoBus summer birding tour. Sue and I are the core of the group and we will be joined at times by up to 7 other birders including Richard Stevens, Rebecca Kosten, Gary Weston, Jerry Petrosky, a few other Colorado birders and a couple of out of state birders.

Unfortunately the format of this blog doesn't allow chronological order of our trip. See Part 1 and 2 below.

July 21

Another afternoon start, as one group we wanted to be on Slumgullion Pass at dark tonight. The plan was to meet at North Clear Creek Campgrounds at 7:00 PM.

Ehlmann group:

We took Brown Lakes Wildlife Area, Hermit Lakes, Campgrounds: South Creek and South Creek Falls.

Highlights include a singing Fox Sparrow at Brown Lakes WLA. Five species of ducks but no grebes. At Spring Creek Pass Sue pointed out an Olive-sided Flycatcher. We had to visit North Creek Falls just for the view. Beautiful site, but no Black Swifts.

Weston group:

Our route included Rita Hondo and Continental Reservoirs. We hiked the 2 miles between the reservoir which helped to find 2 American Three-toed Woodpeckers, Olive-sided Flycatchers, and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

We met up around 6:30 PM at North Clear Creek Campgrounds. The Ehlmann group was lucky enough to see a Dusky Grouse just outside of the entrance. They called us (radios) but the grouse disappeared before our arrival. Later while walking around the campgrounds we saw a Black Swift fly overhead!

Slumgullion Pass Campgrounds added a family of White-winged Crossbills to our trip list. After dark we found Boreal Owls at 2 locations. One of them being a spot that was GPS-ed last year.

The highlight of the morning (7/22) was a Long-eared Owl at the Campgrounds. While this is not a county record, the Campgrounds are farther south than previous sightings. At 11,239 feet it might be the highest Long-eared Owl record in Colorado. Cameron Pass, 10,272 feet in Larimer County has at least two Long-eared Owl records and might be the next highest sightings.

July 22

We backtracked from Lake City today and didn't plan to return until well into tomorrow morning.

Ehlmann group:

We took the eastern route from Slumgullion Pass. Campgrounds birded included Deer Creek, Spruce, and Cebolla. Cebolla Creek Wildlife Area. We were still in Hinsdale County, extreme northeastern section.

Cebolla Creek WLA added several mountain species to our day list. A couple of Gray Jays begged for food. The highlight was certainly a Northern Pygmy-Owl that answered our recordings.

An hour before sunset we drove to Los Pinos Pass which is back in Saguache County. A pair of White-winged Crossbills caught our attention near the summit. We played various owl recordings and hoped for a Flammulated or Boreal Owl but settled for another Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Weston group:

Our route was the western route below Slumgullion Pass. Hinsdale County Road 30 follows the Lake Fork Gunnison River and passes by Lake San Cristobal and Castle Lakes. It also passes by Mill Creek and Williams Creek Campgrounds.

Highlights for us included a Grace's Warbler at Mill Creek Campgrounds.

Owling included a Northern Pygmy-Owl at the Cuba Gulch Trailhead. A Northern Saw-whet Owl answered our recordings near the Cascade Gulch trailhead. This "sighting" argues the point that birds can't read birds. The habitat was not what a Northern Saw-whet Owl is expected to be found around. But we definitely had one! The habitat is similar to elevation and coniferous forest where Northern Saw-whet Owls have been found on the Grand Mesa in Mesa County. Again demonstrating that birds can't read books and don't know they are not supposed to be where they are!

A couple of Great Horned Owls called along Hinsdale County Road 30 about 0.5 north of Lake San Cristobal.

July 23

The itinerary today was to bird west of Lake City. However we woke up to a report of Alder Flycatchers near Gunnison. Since our trek would lead us up there tomorrow, we decided to reverse the trips and go search for the Alder Flycatchers.

Note: we found "Empidonax" flycatchers where the directions indicated. One of them was even singing and did sound like an Alder Flycatcher. So at least one of them is out of range.

We only planned on taking two days to count birds in Gunnison County. As this was not much time, we had many places to go. Today we birded eastern county; tomorrow will be the northern sections.

Ehlmann group;

My group headed up highway 135 and Taylor Canyon. There are numerous campgrounds in Taylor Canyon and Taylor Park and Spring Creek Reservoirs.

During daylight our best birds were Band-tailed Pigeons at several campgrounds and a pair of American Three-toed Woodpeckers at Lakeview Campgrounds directly east of Taylor Park Reservoir.

Surprisingly we couldn't find an American Dipper when we stopped to overlook the Taylor River. Both Taylor Reservoir and Spring Creek Reservoir were visited during the day. Both held few birds; they did have half a dozen ducks.

Campgrounds visited included Spring Creek, Mosca, Taylor Canyon, One Mile, Rosy Lane, North Bank, Lodgepole, Cold Springs, Lottis Creek, Lakeview, Rivers End, Dinner Station, and Dorchester. For the most part, similar birds were found at most of them.

After sunset we started playing recordings at Dorchester Campgrounds. Taylor Pass Trail (summit 11,928 feet) is a little too challenging for our jeep. A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings at the campgrounds. Shortly thereafter a second owl joined us!

We heard another 3 Northern Pygmy-Owls along Forest Road 742 on the trip back to Taylor Park Reservoir. The highlight of our night was hearing Boreal Owls at two locations along Cottonwood Pass Road. Both were calling when we stepped out of our jeep.

Weston group:

Our route went through Parlin up CR 76 to Cumberland Pass and Tincup. It was very ambitious as we planned to drive two high elevation roads after dark. One definitely wants and needs a good 4 wheel drive in this area.

Campgrounds birded included Comanche, Gold Creek, Roosevelt, Pitkin, Middle Quartz, and Mirror.

Tincup is always a good place to look for hummingbirds in the second half of summer. Besides the nesting Broad-tailed Hummingbirds we saw 2 Rufous Hummingbirds and a male Calliope Hummingbird! If one visits, be sure to stop at Boot Hill, Tincup's cemetery!

We continued east to Mirror Lake and got a Northern Pygmy-Owl to respond to our recordings. We turned around at Tincup Pass (12,154 feet) no owls.

We had to walk around for an hour and a half before finding a White-tailed Ptarmigan on Cumberland Pass (12,015) We zigzagged back and forth with radios in hand wishing the other birder would find one first. I was the lucky one! (Check up about 1.0 miles on the miner's road to leads northeast from the pass.)

After dark we had a Boreal Owl answer our recordings at the tree line north of Cumberland Pass's summit.

The rest of our night was spent up Alpine Tunnel Road which is actually lower than Cumberland at 11,460 feet. We stopped at The Palisades, the Williams Pass Trailhead, and Hancock Pass Trailhead. No additional Boreal Owls were found, but we did add a Northern Pygmy-Owl at both trailheads!

July 24

Our itinerary lead us north of Gunnison today. Again the Weston group took the more strenuous route with longer hikes and more difficult roads.

Ehlmann group:

Kebler Pass and Ohio Pass are some of the most beautiful in fall with its Aspen stands. We planned to drive the road both during the day and after dark.

Daylight birding was much better than after dark.

An American Dipper was seen at Roaring Judy Wildlife Area. Campgrounds birded included: Almont, Roaring Judy, Beaver Ponds and Lake Irwin.

We found an American Three-toed Woodpecker short of Kebler Pass' summit. Two Purple Martins were found along Kebler Pass Road near mile 10 (traditional location). Twice Dusky Grouse walked across Kebler Road.

Owling after sunset was slow. Our only owl was a Northern Pygmy-Owl near Ohio Pass. Even then we settled for only hearing the bird, never able to get a glimpse of it.

Weston group:

We took on Schofield Pass, not sure if we could make it all the way to Marble. Even though the summit is only 10,707 feet, it is considered one of the toughest 4 wheel drive roads in Colorado. We stopped driving long before reaching the "Devil's Punch Bowl" on the west side of Schofield Pass.

Having heard the reputation of the road we decided not to drive it. There is a point of no return where the road offers no place to turn around.

Instead we hiked about 5 miles to Crystal. Probably a once in a lifetime walk, but we were able to count some nice birds which included: Rufous Hummingbirds, a male Calliope Hummingbird, MacGillivray's Warbler, and flycatchers.

On the return trip, we scattered along the road and found White-tailed Ptarmigan at two locations. Not sure how to explain where to find them if it is possible to relocate them. Best suggestion is to just go for a walk along the road.

Campgrounds birded included: Gothic, Avery Park, and Clement Creek. One of our most interesting detours was Copper Creek Trail. We hiked from Gothic past Judd Falls for about a mile. A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings up here.

Our only owl south of Crested Butte was a Northern Pygmy-Owl near Clement Creek. Not quite true, we heard a Great Horned Owl at Roaring Judy Wildlife Area.

July 25

Today was a planned day of rest. Of course for birders that doesn't mean staying inside. Before getting some shut eye, we guys drove up Gunnison County Road 38 to the intersection with 38A and beyond. Three Gunnison Sage-Grouse were found near the intersection. For some reason, females like to bring them young around here!

In the afternoon, we couldn't resist driving Gold Basin Creek road (CR 38) into Saguache. A great bonus, while we walked around at the end of CR 38A Jerry Petrosky found a Gunnison Sage-Grouse in Saguache County!!!

Friday, July 24, 2009

Western Slope Birding Trip (Part 2)

July 15 to August 5, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann: Hello cobirders,

Over the next three weeks I will be leading the CoBus summer birding tour. Sue and I are the core of the group and we will be joined at times by up to 7 other birders including Richard Stevens, Rebecca Kosten, Gary Weston, Jerry Petrosky, a few other Colorado birders and a couple of out of state birders.

Unfortunately the format of this blog doesn't allow chronological order of our trip. See Part 1, below.

July 18

We had a lot of ground to cover today. Too much really, but we split up and gave it a try. My group made a loop Monte Vista to Antonio to Platoro to Capulin back to Del Norte. Gary Weston's group headed east to Fort Garland to San Luis to Manassa to Alamosa to Del Norte.

It would take too long to write down all the birds found. So highlights to follow.

Ehlmann group:

Of course Eurasian Collared-Doves are found in almost all towns now. We stopped at the many campgrounds along the route. Our Conejos County wanderings included:

An Ash-throated Flycatcher was seen at Mogate Campgrounds. A pair of Purple Martins was found at Trujillo Meadows Campground and Reservoir. At Cumbres Pass we saw a singing Fox Sparrow, several Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, and a male Rufous Hummingbird.

We detoured to Chama Basin since few birders have ever reported from the very isolated area which has to be reached by way of New Mexico. It was similar to Trujillo Meadows Campgrounds but without the water. One Purple Martin was seen flying by. Cordilleran Flycatchers, Hammond's Flycatchers, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, a Golden-crowned Kinglet and Broad-tailed Hummingbirds can be added to the Campgrounds list.

We had to skip Garcia Lake as it appeared it would take too much time to get to it. We continued north and then northwest on Forest Road 250 deeper into Conejos Canyon. We counted birds at the following campgrounds but nothing uncommon was listed: Elk Creek CG, Spectacle CG, Conejos CG, Trail Creek CG, and Lake Fork CG. Lincoln's Sparrows, a Savannah Sparrow, a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers and 2 Evening Grosbeaks were the highlights.

Our next stop was Platoro Reservoir area. To say the least, there were few birds. Not worth a stop unless you are conducting bird counts to be able to say few birds. Mixed Lake CG also was a bust. Stunner CG was the same. We detoured up to Summitville just to see what it looked like. Boreal Owls have been reported at Platoro and Summitville, but we weren't going to stay around until dark. Not likely to ever find them during the day, we moved on to Terrace Reservoir.

A brief stop at Alamosa Campgrounds to stretch our legs found a Dusky Grouse wandering around unobvious to humans. The Campgrounds probably do not get many birders.

On the way to Monte Vista we again detoured up Rock Creek Road (now in Rio Grande County) to Rock Creek CG and Comstock CG. Just before reaching the Campgrounds the road enters back into the forest. We counted the usual forest birds. Nothing unusual unless Evening Grosbeaks are uncommon to Rio Grande County? All groups returned after dark and we heard two Boreal Owls west of Rock Creek Campgrounds!

Weston group:

Our "mission" was to count birds in the San Luis Hills, a very different habitat than Bryan was seeing. The barren land has some Pinyon Juniper woodlands and Sagebrush. It's definitely defined by the lack of water.

On the trip down from Monte Vista we found a pair of Mountain Plovers. They have been reported to nest in the valley. They were a great Conejos County find for all of us!

The highlights in the order found included Sage Sparrows, a Black-throated Sparrow, a pair of Blue-gray Gnatcatchers, a Savannah Sparrow, Bewick's Wrens, a Dusky Flycatcher, Virginia's Warbler, Chipping Sparrows, and a Cassin's Sparrow. A flock of 4-6 Pinyon Jays made quite a racket for us! We considered our list to be very impressive and left very happy with our long morning of birding! We also considered ourselves fortunate to not run across any rattlesnakes which probably come out in late evening.

We found Alto Lakes and Cove Lake Reservoir on the map, but decided that there was not enough time to check them out. We were disappointed to find Sego Springs Wildlife Closed (due to waterfowl nesting). Note: We found out later that it might have been open and we miss read the signs? Didn't go back to check.

Short drives around Antonio, Romeo, San Acacio, and San Luis did not add much to our day lists. We did find a couple of Rufous Hummingbirds and Black-chinned Hummingbirds around Antonito. We looked around San Luis for hummingbirds as an Anna's Hummingbird was reported here a few years ago. Only a couple of Black-chinned Hummingbirds were found by us.

We left Conejos County and drove east to Costilla County. A few raptors were added to our county and day list. The only bird of note at Sanchez Reservoir was a Bewick's Wren (for our county lists).

A pair of Burrowing Owls were just south of Fort Garland. We walked around the area about 3 miles south of Fort Garland and run across a couple of Sage Sparrows.

A flock of 8-10 Pinyon Jays were flying around Mountain Home Reservoir. A lone sandpiper turned out to be a Least Sandpiper. This has to be very out of place? Smith Reservoir south of Blanca was a bust and we headed to Del Norte to meet up with Bryan.

CoBus group:

After a quick bite we went west to Wolf Creek Pass, Mineral County. We wanted to look for Black Swifts this afternoon because our itinerary may not include passing by here early or late in the afternoon. The trip turned out well as two Black Swifts were seen from the western overlook!

After dark we went owling back north of Del Norte. Campgrounds checked included: Rock Creek (south of Del Norte), Cathedral, Poso, Storm King, Buffalo Pass, Luders Creek, Stone Cellar, and North Crestone Creek.

We enjoyed what we considered as great success in finding owls. Exact locations are kept for the Colorado Bird Breeding Atlas IIC. We again split into two groups to cover more ground.

Rio Grande County
Flammulated Owl (2)
Great Horned Owl (4, 2 Locations)
Long-eared Owl (1)
Boreal Owl (2)

Saguache County
Flammulated Owl (5, 3 Locations)
Great Horned Owl (2)
Northern Pygmy-Owl (2, 2 Locations)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1)

July 19

In spite of being up all night, all of us headed to DeWeese Reservoir, Custer County. Fortunately, the Reddish Egret was walking around the southern end before sunrise. We all got great looks, a bad photo, and drove to West Cliff to get some sleep.

We got an afternoon start on our trip west to South Fork area, Mineral County. We again split up to conduct surveys for the BBS IIC. We did not get back together until sunrise.

Ehlmann group:

We stopped at Campgrounds and wildlife areas on the east side of Wolf Creek Pass. These included: Palisade to Wagon Wheel Gap, Highway Springs, Lower Beaver Creek, Upper Beaver Creek, Cross Creek, Park Creek, Big Meadows, West Fork, Wolf Creek.

The first highlight was a Hooded Warbler up to road to Wagon Wheel Gap. We all wondered if they could possibly nest in the area? The habitat is similar to those found in Arizona (though I have no idea if they have breeding records), and Gregory Canyon where they also may breed. A Sage Thrasher seemed out of place as we expect them more down in the valleys.

Just south of Wagon Wheel Gap is Palisade Campgrounds. A Warbling Vireo and Cordilleran Flycatcher were of a little interest. Coller Wildlife Area is south of here. Again few birds were around, another Warbling Vireo, Green-tailed Towhee, Lincoln's Sparrow, and Yellow Warblers. We did find our Mineral County American Dipper! Big Meadows Reservoir was a bust. A Dusky Grouse walked across the road to Park Creek Campgrounds.

Not much else of interest was found until our owling started. Tonight we enjoyed fair success.

Flammulated Owl (3, 2 Locations) One being Park Creek CG
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1)

Weston group:
We counted birds west of Wolf Creek Pass, still in Mineral County. Campgrounds visited included West Fork and Wolf Creek in Mineral County; East Fork in Archuleta County; and Bridge, Williams Creek, Teal Picnic Area, Cimarrona; also Williams Creek Reservoir in Hinsdale County.

The highlights of our daylight birding included a Three-toed Woodpecker north of Williams Creek Reservoir and a Dusky Grouse near Cimarrona Campgrounds.

We did better on owls than the Ehlmann group!!!

Flammulated Owl (2)
Western Screech-Owl (missed)
Great Horned Owl (2, 2 Locations)
Long-eared Owl (missed) (Of the expected owls, we wanted this one bad; no luck!)
Boreal Owl (Wolf Creek Pass at 4:30 AM)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (west fork CG)

July 20

Getting to bed at 7:00 AM and sleeping until noon. Our days are really beginning in the afternoon, but owling is our major concern. Owling which doesn't really start until after 8:00 PM.

Ehlmann group:

Our "assignment" today was in Mineral County.

We drove around Creede, explored Marshall Park CG, Rio Grande CG, and then went up Forest Road 528 (Lime Creek Road) along Lime Creek to Spar City and up to Ivy Creek Campgrounds.

We would have liked to explore the Wheeler Geologic Area but it's a long trip to get there. A drive up Forest Road 503 found us a couple of White-throated Swifts for Mineral County.

The usual birds were found up the many spurs of Lime Creek Road. We did see American Three-toed Woodpeckers, 2 Dusky Grouse, etc. Ivy Creek Campgrounds are at 9200 feet. Our trip was timed to reach the area around 6:00 PM. That gave us enough time to look around and then wait until dark. Two Grace's Warblers were definitely our highlight, county birds for all of us!

Owling was poor as we found absolutely none.

Weston group:

Most of our birding was in Hinsdale County. Our "territory included a couple of lakes and reservoirs. We drove north along Highway 149 which runs along the Rio Grande River.

Campgrounds visited included Road Canyon, River Hill, Thirty Mile, and Lost Hill. There are a couple of reservoirs along Hwy 149 just before it enters Hinsdale County. The highlight was a couple of Western Grebes, 2 Pied-billed Grebes, and 3 species of ducks.

Forest Road 520 was the most interesting. It passes the Road Canyon Reservoirs and Rio Grande Reservoir. The road goes west into the Weminuche Wilderness. The reservoirs themselves were uneventful though we did find some Hinsdale County birds for us: Western Grebe, Pied-billed Grebe, Eared Grebe, and four species of ducks. Lazy U Reservoir up Crooked Creek had a pair of Western Grebes. With so many sightings, they must nest somewhere in Hinsdale County.

We also found Grace's Warblers at Lost Trail Campgrounds (9,500 feet). Waited until dark and stopped many places to search for owls. We had a little better success with owls and I mean little. Two Great Horned Owls called early in the morning around Road Canyon Reservoir #1.

Saturday, July 18, 2009

Western Slope Birding Trip (part 1)

July 15 to August 5, 2009

Bryan Ehlmann: Hello cobirders,

Over the next three weeks I will be leading the CoBus summer birding tour. Sue and I are the core of the group and we will be joined at times by up to 7 other birders including Richard Stevens, Rebecca Kosten, Gary Weston, Jerry Petrosky, a few other Colorado birders and a couple of out of state birders.

Our main goal is to relocate nesting owls in Southwest and northwest Colorado, but we will be searching for a few uncommon birds along the way.

July 15

We searched for American Three-toed Woodpeckers at Mueller State Park (Teller County) today. No Three-toed Woodpeckers were seen along our hike but a male and female Williamson's Sapsucker were relocated (Scott Campbell, 7/4) along the northwestern edge of trail 32.

Success was achieved when a male American Three-toed Woodpecker was found on the hike to Lone Dome.

Late in the afternoon we walked around the Crags Campground where the highlight was an adult Northern Goshawk perched on a snag east of the campgrounds.

At dusk, a Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings.

Our birding day ended north of Divide where we searched unsuccessfully for Flammulated Owls.

July 16

Shortly before midnight, Richard Stevens took us down Phantom Canyon Road and found a Spotted Owl for us. It took him less than 10 minutes; experience really does help!

We continued south toward Canon City and we heard a second Spotted Owl about 3 miles south of the first one. These species is federally protected and searching for them can be very tricky.

After a few hours sleep, we went over to Tunnel Drive to see if last winter's Golden-crowned Sparrow might still be around. We didn't find one but did see at least one Rufous-crowned Sparrow behind the old brick building west of the parking lot.

After lunch in Canon City we walked the extreme eastern and western ends of the Arkansas Riverwalk (Fremont). Western Screech-Owls have been reported at the eastern end but none were out for us.

At the western end, one of the Eastern Phoebes reported to have nested this summer was perched at the old sewer tank east of Sells Pond. A small flock of Pine Siskins and Bushtits were somewhat of a surprise.

A brief stop at Pathfinder Park near Florence added a Black Phoebe to our trip list and we continued west.

We stopped at the Buena Vista Overlook (Chaffee County) and found 5 Pinyon Jays flying around the KOA campground below the northwest ridge.

Lewis's Woodpeckers were good to us. They were relocated at the Park behind Kay's along highway 24 and another pair at Brookdale Avenue and North Pleasant Avenue.

Near dark, a nesting Western Screech-Owl was found at a friend's home! There are very few of them in this valley.

After dark we drove up 304 road and had a Northern Saw-whet Owl answer our recordings west of Midland Hill.

July 17

Early this morning we decided to search for Bendire's Thrashers before the summer heat came. None could be found but we did find a pair of Curve-billed Thrashers and half a dozen Sage Thrashers along Forest Road 660, south of Forest Road 659 (Saguache County).

A quick drive through Monte Vista National Wildlife Area (Rio Grande County) found an early migrating Willet! No Bendire's Thrashers are Alamosa NWR or Monte Vista.

After lunch we hiked up to Zapata Falls outside of the Great Sand Dunes National Park (Alamosa County). Sue noticed an American Dipper along Mosca Creek! Our target birds, two Black Swifts flew overhead about an hour before sunset.

After dark, a Western Screech-Owl answered our recordings while played at Sawmill Canyon (Saguache County). A Northern Pygmy-Owl called around the Pinyon Flats Campgrounds.

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Mt Evans and Genesee Mountain Park

July 14, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Christine Graves, Vicki Perry and I headed up the Mt Evans Byway (Clear Creek County) about an hour before sunrise. Temperatures were cool and winds mild.

We did not find any White-tailed Ptarmigan on the trip up to the top of Mt Evans. However on the way back down, Christine found a Ptarmigan east of the road and just south (uphill) of the final switchback before reaching the parking area for Summit Lake.

Later just after getting out of the car, we saw a Brown-capped Rosy Finch along the northeast corner of Summit Lake. Christine opted out of a walk to the northwest corner of the lake. Vicki and I found two Brown-capped Rosy Finches perched on the rocks on the hillside north of the lake!

Though we missed any Three-toed Woodpeckers around the Echo Lake campgrounds, we did see many hummingbirds around Echo Lake Lodge. Besides many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, there were at least two Rufous Hummingbirds and a Calliope Hummingbird!

At the northeast corner of Echo Lake, we found Lincoln's Sparrows, Green-tailed Towhees, a Red-naped Sapsucker, and several Song Sparrows. Unfortunately, no Three-toed Woodpeckers were found in the short distance Christine was able to walk along the western and southern sides of the lake.

On the trip back to the car, we did get good looks at a male Pine Grosbeak and brief looks at a female.

On the trip back to Denver we stopped at Genesee Mountain Park. A female Williamson's Sapsucker landed on the telephone northwest of the group picnic area building. A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers flew around the dead tree near the flag pole at the top of the park.

Few birds moved about behind the Trader's Store at Red Rocks Park (Jefferson).

Another Search for Cassin's Sparrows

July 13, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Today was going to be a day of rest. Rebecca Kosten did decide to go for a ride in the cool afternoon after temperatures dropped and the rains stopped.

We counted at least two of the Black-chinned Hummingbirds behind the Ranger's Office at Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe).

Burrowing Owls were found at several locations along the DIA Owl Loop (Denver and Adams Counties). No Cassin's Sparrows sang out as we drove several of the more isolated roads northeast of the airport!

Search for Winter Wrens, Rocky Mountain National Park

July 10-12, 2009

Richard Stevens:

July 10

Bryan Ehlmann, Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten, and I hiked up Cow Creek Trail (Rocky Mountain National Park) about 2 hours before sunrise.

Two Northern Pygmy-Owls answered our recordings. The first was just west of the wooden stairs which are about 0.8 miles west of the parking area.

The second Northern Pygmy-Owl was along Cow Creek and upstream from the wooden bridge reached by hiking south (downhill) from the three trail sign at 1.2 miles west of the parking area. Bryan was able to pick this owl out of the evergreen trees and all of us enjoyed great views!

Afterwards we continued up to Bridal Veil Falls (it's about a 5.9 mile trek round trip from the Cow Creek trailhead near the Rocky Mountain Research Center [also called McGraw Ranch Trail]).

None of us had visited the falls before and were a little disappointed. We had pictured a tall falls where Black Swifts perhaps nested. Instead the falls turned out to be about 20 feet high or so and did not provide a place for swifts to nest or forage for food (see August, 2009 "Colorado Field Notes".)

After lunch we drove into Rocky Mountain National Park proper and to the infamous (for White-tailed Ptarmigan) Medicine Bow Curve.

I recommend that birders hike the trail leading north from the pullover to the end of the trail. If no Ptarmigan are found, then drop down 20 yards and return to the pullover. (It is legal to hike off the trail here. I have asked rangers on more than one occasion. They all agreed that it is okay; but they prefer to not advertise the fact. It keeps elk watchers and casual hikers on the main trail. Ptarmigan searchers are few and far between and do not disturb the tundra to any large degree.)

Our next stop was the Lava Cliffs pullover. The previously reported Brown-capped Rosy Finch was not found today.

We were luckier at the Rock Cut Trail. A pair of Ptarmigan was walking the northwest hillside over the summit of the trail! A few American Pipits were observed on the rather steep but short hike to the top.

Endovalley Picnic Area added a Green-tailed Towhee, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, a male Rufous Hummingbird, Wilson's Warblers, and plenty of Steller's Jays to our day list. No American Three-toed Woodpeckers were found on a hike up the trail leading west from the picnic area (unlike in past years).

We ended our birding day at the Alluvial Fan area of Rocky Mountain National Park in hopes of observing a Black Swift foraging for food; without success. Just to the west of parking area we did find a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers and an American Dipper!

July 11

About an hour before sunrise, Bryan and I walked around the cabins east of Highway 66 (and east of the YMCA of the Rockies). A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings (for the third of our week).

At sunrise, the four of us drove south to Copeland Lake and found a pair of Black Swifts flying over Copeland Lake (Wild Basin section of Rocky Mountain National Park).

After they disappeared to the west, we hiked around south and west of the lake. The area was quite birdy and added to our early day list: a pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers, a male Downy Woodpecker, a male Hairy Woodpecker, and a MacGillivray's Warbler (down in the willows below the hill).

We stopped and walked around the area about a mile west of the entrance. In past years Three-toed Woodpeckers have been found around the old snags. We did not have success in seeing any Three-toed Woodpeckers but did hear one drumming briefly. Several Warbling Vireos and a pair of Olive-sided Flycatchers were also found in this area.

Our last trek of the day was a hike up to Calypso Falls and beyond to Ouzel Falls. One of our target birds has been a Winter Wren. None were found along this hike either.

A bonus bird(s) was two Black Swifts flying overhead when we reached Calypso Cascades. Another two or the same two Black Swifts were observed as we reached Ouzel Falls. For those so inclined, Calypso Cascades is an easy 1.8 mile hike west of the Ranger Station at the west end of Wild Basin. Ouzel Falls is another 0.9 miles (though considered a moderate hike).

On the return trip to the Ranger Station we heard an American Three-toed Woodpecker near the burn area just above Calypso Falls. This could have been the one found by Kathy Mihm Dunning on 7/9?

July 12

About 2 hours before sunrise, Bryan and I hiked around the southern and western borders of the YMCA of the Rockies. Our trek was rewarded with a Flammulated Owl answering our recordings!

The four of us hoped for another chance at finding a Winter Wren. Just after sunrise we hiked from the Upper Bear Parking Area to Emerald Lake and back. The habitat was not where we would most expect a Winter Wren; none were found.

We did see an American Three-toed Woodpecker about halfway between the parking area and Nymph Lake. Once we got above Nymph Lake we ran into a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan! Another group of hikers had found 5+ White-tailed Ptarmigan farther up the trail!

In the afternoon we hiked from the Cub Lake Trailhead to Fern Lake and back. Again no Winter Wrens were found. Along the hike we did see a Dusky Grouse and another American Three-toed Woodpecker. Neither was in a location that would be easy to describe or relocate.

Having missed Winter Wren, we drove over to the Alluvial Fan area. No Black Swifts were observed flying around so we decided to give Winter Wren once last chance by walking along several sections of the Old Fall River road. Again no Winter Wrens and we departed.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Search for Cassin's Sparrows

July 8 & 9, 2009

Richard Stevens:

July 8

Bryan Ehlmann and I left early in the morning to search for Cassin's Sparrows in Arapahoe County. The morning was cool with temperatures in the high 60s and winds averaging 4 mph.

The plan was to first walk the southern side of DADS (Denver Arapahoe Disposal Site). There is a vast amount of undisturbed open land with wild grasses at this "garbage dump". Unfortunately most of it is not accessible to the public. We hoped to hear/see a Cassin's Sparrow from outside of the southern boundary.

I dropped Bryan off at the western end at Gun Club Road and Quincy Avenue. Then I drove to the eastern end and walked west.

I was the first to find a Cassin's Sparrow. It was "performing its mating flight" at 0.1 miles west of the entrance to Aurora Reservoir (South Powhaton Road).

We searched for another hour without finding any evidence of a second bird.

Our search continued by driving many of the country roads in eastern Arapahoe County. Any riparian areas were checked for Common Poorwills, Common Nighthawks and owls.

Our owl count consisted of 3 Great Horned Owls (2 locations). No goatsuckers were found during the day. By noon or so it was too hot (90+ degrees) and few birds were moving about.

July 9

Bryan and I tried the same technique as yesterday in Adams County, running point counts from just before sunrise (6:27 am). We stopped around noon as again the day became quite hot.

Our trek was not as successful as yesterday. No Cassin's Sparrows were found and our time to try was up until next month. Other counts a wait us.

We did find another pair of Great Horned Owls and a several Common Nighthawks flying overhead near Horse Creek Reservoir.

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Boulder and Weld Counties

July 7, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I headed up to Boulder County at around 0330 hours. The almost full moon lit up the windless and cool night!

A friend invited us over to check on his/her owls. Sure enough, Long-eared Owls are again nesting on the property!

At sunrise, we wanted to search for the Little Blue Heron at the White Rocks Trail along Valmont Road. As we made the 0.5 hike from the parking area (for Teller Lakes, W.R. trailhead only has handicapped parking) many birds were encountered.

We saw many House Wrens, Bullock's Orioles, Western Kingbirds, Eastern Kingbirds, Robins, and a few Yellow Warblers.

When we arrived at the pond along White Rocks Trail north of Valmont, the Little Blue Heron was not in the open. Five Great Egrets and a Snowy Egret walked the western edge of the pond.

To get views of the whole western shore one has to walk to the southeastern end of the trail. We finally got a look at the Little Blue Heron walking the northwest shore (from the last large opening allowing views of the pond).

We listened for a possible Least Flycatcher or Willow Flycatcher; without success. No "Empidonax" flycatchers were found at all. As we turned to head back to the car, I was about to say "add another Western Kingbird to the list" when it took off and flew over our heads. It was a Cassin's Kingbird; do not believe they are common in Boulder County!

Afterwards we turned south and visited the Boulder Bobolink Meadow off Baseline Road (several Bobolinks added to our trip list).

Then back north toward highway 66 by way of 75th street. We stopped briefly at Pella Crossing Park in search of Dickcissels. No Dickcissels were found but the Bobolink I found several weeks ago was still there.

As the day was heating up and we had many additional places to visit, it was decided that we split up. I dropped Bryan off at 75th and 4th and I drove over to Rabbit Mountain Open Space.

I parked at the pullover 0.5 miles south of the entrance to Rabbit Mountain and walked south along 55th Street. I had not gone far when I heard a Cassin's Sparrow on the east side of the road. It was on a tall bush where I got good looks of the rather plain sparrow. Eventually the sparrow took off and chased another sparrow (wanting to get a little friendlier, if you know what I mean). These Cassin's Sparrows were 0.8 miles south of the R.M. entrance.

A call to Bryan to tell him about the sparrow encounter found that he was looking at a Cassin's Sparrow that was "doing its skylarking thing". Bryan watched it twice fly up and sing as it dropped back to the ground.

I picked Bryan up and we headed east and north toward Lower Latham Reservoir (Weld County).
Along the way we found a Peregrine Falcon on a telephone pole along CR 43 between CR 44 and CR 48. Several Great-tailed Grackles were along Highway 85 at the southern end of Gilcrest.

I missed my turn at CR 43 and CR 48 and before I could turn around, we noticed a dozen Great-tailed Grackles at 0.4 miles north of the missed intersection. Later we decided that these Great-tailed Grackles had moved from their "spring residence" along CR 48, east of CR 43. The ranch there had quit running cows around their home (an attraction for the grackles in the past).

Because of this years many rains, the wetlands along CR 48 (south side of Lower Latham Reservoir) have plenty of water. We eventually counted 27 Black-necked Stilts (several quite young ones included).

Only one White-faced Ibis was at the main wetlands about 1.3 miles east of CR 43. The only additional shorebirds included American Avocets and Killdeer. We turned back east and found a lone ibis in the tall grasses about 20 feet north of CR 48. This one turned out to be the Glossy Ibis (or hybrid as someone suggested). This ibis was along a stream, 1.1 miles east of CR 43.

We were about to declare that only 2 lbis were here, when a flock of 7 White-faced Ibis flew out of the tall cattails and grasses. While watching the ibis we heard several Marsh Wrens.

Our next stop was Beebe Draw Ponds along CR 42. A few Pelicans and American Avocets were just about all that were there. A pair of Great-tailed Grackles perched on the fence to the east.

As we drove east we discovered a small bird on the telephone wire about 0.1 miles west of CR 45. It was a Dickcissel (which flew into the alfalfa to the north). We stood scoping the alfalfa field about 20 minutes but found no additional Dickcissels.

From here we headed up Kersey Road (CR 49) to Highway 392. The traditional rail spot along Highway 37 is and has been dry for a couple of years now. We checked at two traditional Upland Sandpiper fields along highway 392, but found none wandering around today.

We drove through Crow Valley Campground but found no uncommon birds in our brief visit. We turned south and visited a friend who lives southeast of Briggsdale. Two Mountain Plovers were on her ranch. The Upland Sandpipers she had seen a few days earlier could not be relocated by us.

Wandering around ten miles southeast of Briggsdale we found several locations with Cassin's Sparrows, Grasshopper Sparrows, and Brewer's Sparrows. A few Lark Buntings were also found.

We headed south and back to Kersey Road to I76 and toward Barr Lake State Park. Once past Barr Lake we drove around the fields north and east of the airport in search of Cassin's Sparrows in Denver and Adams County; without success. The plan is to search again tomorrow in Denver, Adams, and Arapahoe Counties.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Douglas County Birding!

July 6, 2009

Richard Stevens:

I spent most of last night walking Castlewood Canyon Road in search of owls (especially Northern Saw-whet Owls); without success. At sunrise I started driving around counting birds.

It was such a beautiful morning that I stopped along Highway 83 and walked about a mile in an area where many sparrows appeared flying around. I found at least one Cassin's Sparrow singing along highway 83 at 1.5 miles north of Lake Gulch Road.

I then took another hike at the Winkler Ranch along Castlewood Canyon Road south of the State Park. Nine Bobolinks were along Castlewood Canyon Road at 0.2 miles south of the entrance to the Winkler Ranch. The ranch area was quite birdy. Birds included 3 Gray Catbirds, a Cordilleran Flycatcher, 2 Common Yellowthroats, Western Scrub-Jays, Grasshopper Sparrows, Vesper Sparrows, Western Bluebirds, Mountain Bluebirds, and one Dickcissel (which was along the edge of the cut field just north of the ranch's entrance.

Inside of Castlewood Canyon State Park I found 2 singing Plumbeous Vireos and several Warbling Vireos. Spotted Towhees, House Wrens, and Black-headed Grosbeaks sang around the old Homestead farm house.

Two vulture roosts were found with 3 Turkey Vultures in one tree and 4 in another (at least 0.2 miles apart). Several additional Turkey Vultures were slightly hidden in the evergreen trees. I could not pick out the Black Vulture among the roosting birds.

While driving around searching for additional vulture roosts, this time along Willow Drive which runs west off Castlewood Canyon Road (just north of the park), a male Rose-breasted Grosbeak was seen on the telephone wire next to the first house (brown) on the south side of Willow Drive. At least 2 male and 2 female Black-headed Grosbeaks perched on the wire or the whitish fence on the north side of the road.

I lost the Rose-breasted Grosbeak when it went behind (south) of the brown house. Most of the Black-headed Grosbeaks flew into the woods north of Willow Drive. This spot is less than 0.6 miles as the crow/grosbeak flies from where Cheryl Teuton reported seeing one yesterday at the Homestead parking area.

My plan was to sit in a chair at Castlewood Canyon and Willow Roads and wait for the vultures to take advantage of the thermals. I figured that even though previous sightings were 1120 and 1040 hours, this day was hotter and thermals may form earlier. Got lucky, they were (though winds on the ground were only 3.5 mph and temperatures were 77.4 degrees). Tomorrow is predicted to be 10 degrees warmer and thermals may start even earlier.

Going back out to search for more Cassin's Sparrows in Douglas County until late this afternoon when I hope to find one in undeveloped Arapahoe County.

A walk along the Cherry Creek Trail from Castlewood Canyon State Park to a 1/2 mile north of the Walker Pit and back did not find additional Cassin's Sparrows. I then drove some of the roads east of Highway 83, again not finding any Cassin's Sparrows.

My search for Cassin's Sparrows in Arapahoe County was thwarted by heavy rains. We have to try that tomorrow.

Boulder County Today

July 4, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Last night, Roger Danka and I went looking for Common Poorwills in Boulder County. We saw one and heard another along Gross Dam Road. Coming from Flagstaff Road, the Common Poorwill were at the sharp switchbacks as the road drops sharply downhill. I would guess this is about halfway from Flagstaff Road to the Southern entrance to Gross Reservoir.

While searching for Common Poorwills around the Ranger's home/office and as an added bonus, we heard Northern Pygmy-Owls at two locations; east and south of Gross Reservoir.

Spruce Creek Trail, One of My Colorado Favorites

July 3, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Today, Roger and I hiked up the Spruce Creek Trail in Summit County (south of Breckenridge). Highlights included two Northern Pygmy-Owls, a Flammulated Owl, and a Boreal Owl. It was the 41st time up my favorite hike in Colorado.

Best directions to birds:

We hiked from the lower parking area which is 4 miles north of Mohawk Lakes. If you have a vehicle with very high clearance you can make it to the upper parking area. This cuts off about 2 miles of the hike. We were counting birds and wanted to make the whole trip.

American Three-toed Woodpecker
Right along the trail at 0.2 miles north (downhill) of the upper parking area

White-tailed Ptarmigan
Ninth time I have found them up here. Two were south of Mohawk Lakes about halfway up to the top of the ridge. In my 41 trips, I did not always hike to the top of the three mountains (which I have been on twice each). Pacific Peak is 6 feet short of a 14er. Helen Mt and Crystal Peak form a beautiful box canyon like area. The final two miles of the hike goes along a waterfall and several Mohawk Lakes. Brown trout in lakes. With the full moon, it was a spectacular trip!

Northern Pygmy-Owls
One observed along trail at 0.4 miles below (north) of upper parking area. We bushwhacked some east of the trail and heard two others.

Flammulated Owl
(Second time I have found them, but difficult hike, bushwhacking uphill south of the upper parking area.

Boreal Owl
Thought they were up there and finally heard one. Again difficult bushwhacking trip at 0.35 miles uphill (south) of the upper parking area).

A Visit to a Bird Sanctuary

July 2, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Today, Roger and I hiked up to the A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary. We again enjoyed a wonderful day in the mountains. Winds were calm again; temperatures were in the high 50s!

We ran into a male American Three-toed Woodpecker about halfway between the parking area and the sign for the sanctuary. The woodpecker's distinct drumming was heard 10 yards east of the trail. It took no time at all to find the bird which was more interested in hunting for food.

The bird sanctuary was a cornucopia of birds. We found Willow Flycatchers, a Dusky Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Fox Sparrows (gray headed race), Wilson's Warblers, MacGillivray's Warblers, Golden-crowned Kinglets, Ruby-crowned Kinglets, and a few more I am probably forgetting.

A male Red-naped Sapsucker wandered around the aspen grove at the northeast corner of the property.

It was such a nice day that Roger and I decided to make the rather strenuous hike up the Ptarmigan trail. We hiked about 2 miles up above tree line. Our efforts were rewarded with the sighting of two White-tailed Ptarmigan about 1.0 miles north of the sanctuary.

After sunset, we even got a Northern Pygmy-Owl to answer our recordings. The owl called but was never observed northwest of the property.

Owling in Summit County

July 1, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Roger Danka and I birded up Keystone Gulch Road. While the area was quite birdy, we did not find any uncommon birds.

Next we hiked up the Saint Johns Trail to above tree line. This hike is interesting and not too difficult. One passes a couple of old cabins and emerges from the sparse trees onto rolling hills. Then we waited until dark to start back down to our car parked at Montezuma.

We enjoyed a wonderful night on the Saint Johns Trail. Winds were mild and temperatures in the low 50s. The almost full moon lit up the woods! We could see rather well through our binoculars.

The hike in the dark started above tree line. Just after entering the woods we heard a Boreal Owl off to the west. While playing a recording to try and draw in the Boreal Owl, a second Boreal Owl answered from about 30 yards further downhill!

We arrived back at Montezuma around 3:00am. It was such an exquisite night that we settled on a hike up the nearby Hunkidori Trail. This trail runs through Douglas Fir and Lodgepole Pine forest. According to my GPS, we hiked about 1.5 miles up this trail.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings when we were 0.55 miles from the trailhead. No further "action" was heard this night.

Birding Summit County Today

June 30, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Roger Danka and I headed to Summit County today. It was another beautiful summer day in the mountains. Winds were mild and temperatures in the low 60s.

A walk up to the Loveland Ski area found a pair of Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Black-capped Chickadees, Common Ravens, American Crows, White-breasted Nuthatches, and quite a few Pine Siskins.

We searched around Loveland Pass for about 2 hours. No White-tailed Ptarmigan were relocated during out stay.

No uncommon birds were found around the Keystone Ski Area. So we decided to hike up Argentine Pass. About 2/3 of the way to the old building up the pass, we ran into a wandering male White-tailed Ptarmigan. No uncommon birds were found.

Our trip down was timed to start after sunset. Winds were calm which is strange for this area and we could almost hear a pin drop.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings at about 3/4 mile from the parking area at Montezuma Road and Highway 6. A second Northern Pygmy-Owl called about 80 yards west of our first discovery. Both were somewhere in the woods south of the trail.

Birding in Douglas County

June 29, 2009

Richard Stevens:

Roger Danka and I drove up to Cheesman Park (Jefferson) to try and relocate some of the American Three-toed Woodpeckers found a few days earlier by Bryan and Sue Ehlmann. Also we hoped to find a Red-headed Woodpecker or Lewis's Woodpecker reported in previous years.

On the trip south we stopped at three locations where Northern Pygmy-Owls were found in the past. One Northern Pygmy-Owl answered our recordings just south of where Deckers Road turns from paved to gravel.

A walk along highway 126 west (uphill) to the old green trailer did not find either Red-headed Woodpeckers or Lewis's Woodpeckers. We did see a Cordilleran Flycatcher, Green-tailed Towhee, and MacGillivray's Warbler along the creek.

Our hike up the Cheesman Canyon Trail to the reservoir found 5 American Three-toed Woodpeckers. Three species of nuthatches wandered around the west side of Cheesman Reservoir.

On the return trip to Denver we went by the Winkler Ranch (Douglas) south of Castlewood Canyon State Park. We counted at least 3 male and a female Bobolink at 0.2 miles south of the Ranch entrance.