Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Another Great Spring Day, Jefferson County Birding

March 23, 2010

Richard Stevens:

As I look outside at the 6-10 inches of snow on the ground (it is 4:00 am on Wednesday, 3/24), I remember how enjoyable Tuesday was. While temperatures were 25 degrees cooler than Monday, winds were still relatively mild on this pleasant day. While today, 3/24, we will most likely to stuck inside for the whole day (except perhaps to shovel snow on the driveway).

Bryan Ehlmann and I first stopped at Pine Valley Ranch Park at around 5:00 am. We listened for owls (specifically Northern Pygmy-Owl) from the lower parking area. There was not a sound to be heard.

We arrived at Reynolds Park (Jefferson County, also) at 6:00 am. Here we enjoyed better results. Two Northern Pygmy-Owls called from somewhere in the tall trees near the creek at the western parking area.

As usual, after daylight, we were not able to locate the owls. Most likely, they were still in the same trees, but quiet.

Bryan and I hiked up the Raven's Roost trail by way of the Elkhorn Trail. Luck was with us, as we observed a male and female Dusky Grouse walking across the Raven's Roost trail from west to east. They eventually disappeared down the steep hill. (Location was 50 yards south of the old service road).

We continued up Raven's Roost to Eagle's View, circled around to the Oxen Draw trail and returned to the parking area.

Other notable sightings/hearings included:

A Dusky Grouse was booming somewhere near the upper clearing along the Eagle's View trail. Our efforts to see the bird were denied even though the grouse called for 30 minutes or so. He sounded so close, however………

When we reached the junction of the Oxen Draw, Eagle's View and Raven's Roost trails, the distinctive drumming of an American Three-toed Woodpecker was heard. It took another 20 minutes to locate the Three-toed Woodpecker (10 yards east of Oxen Draw and 20 yards north/below the intersection of the three trails).

Bryan decided to go home and get some sleep, while I returned to Wheat Ridge Greenbelt to search for the White-winged Scoters reported yesterday by Bob Spencer.

First, I walked north of I70 to the location of the two Rusty Blackbirds that have been around since they were reported by Chavez on 3/5. I quickly found the male Rusty Blackbird about 60 yards north of I70.

The female Rusty Blackbird has not been reported for about a week now? Perhaps I have an explanation? I watched the male sun himself for 10 minutes. He then picked up several insects and walked into the thick bushes. About 10 minutes later, he returned and repeated the task of collecting insects. Again, he returned to the bushes. Just maybe, he was feeding the female? Could the pair be nesting in spite of being quite far from their breeding range? I plan to look into this further. However, how is our huge snowstorm going to affect their/his behavior?

Afterwards, I hiked from Youngfield Street (I70) down to Prospect Park where the scoters were reported. A few Redheads were on the western Bass Lake. The male and female Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the eastern Bass Lake.

No scoters on Tabor Lake. Many Double-crested Cormorants and four or five Great Blue Herons were on nests on the Tabor Lake island rookery.

Finally, I scoped Prospect Pond, again finding no scoters or Greater Scaup. One Scaup was a good candidate for a female Greater Scaup. The duck was diving quite often with only a few seconds of surface time to get some more air. I was not able in the 30 minutes I watched the female Scaup to determine its identity. Eventually, I ran out of time and had to leave.

No comments: