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.

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