Thursday, April 29, 2010

Guanella Pass & Genesee Mt. Park

April 28, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bill Reisner, Bryan Ehlmann and I escaped to Guanella Pass (Clear Creek County) this morning. While winds were 20+ mph with gusts to 32 (anemometer reading at Red Rocks Park), winds were surprisingly slow at Guanella (10 mph).

Access is only from the Highway 285 side at Grant. The gate is still closed near Duck Lake. However, the 1.6 mile hike to the summit does not require snowshoes or much in the way of a strenuous hike.

Once we reached the top, we hiked toward the hill to the southeast. At the sign in box for the Rosalie and 603 trails, we headed uphill along the 603 trail. Unlike two weeks ago, we did not have to go to the top of the 603 trail.

Nine White-tailed Ptarmigan were observed walking around the snow covered willows at about 50 yards west of the 603 trail and 400 yards south (uphill) of the Rosalie Trail. Several Mountain Bluebirds added some color to the landscape!

On the way back to our car, we heard an American Three-toed Woodpecker near the closed gate.

After returning to the west side of Denver, we continued west to Genesee Mountain Park (Jefferson). Winds were much stronger here 20+ mph gusts to 29 mph.

A male Williamson's Sapsucker responded to my recording played by its favorite drumming "tree", the telephone pole near the group picnic area. Shortly after the male appeared, a female flew out of the woods northwest of the telephone pole.

Another pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers was flying around the snag near the flagpole at the top of the park.

Other birds observed included the three nuthatch species, a Brown Creeper, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees and 4 Red Crossbills (another target bird for Bill)!

By 4:00 pm, weather was deteriorating rapidly and we returned once again to Denver.

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