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.

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