Thursday, July 29, 2010

Summit County Owling

July 28, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I heard two Northern Pygmy-Owls before sunrise this morning on the way to the A.M. Bailey Bird Sanctuary. We hiked from the turnoff sign up 1.5 miles to the trailhead. Both owls were heard before reaching the trailhead.

Later, we found a female and young Ptarmigan along the Ptarmigan trail about 1.8 miles from the trailhead.

Two Three-toed Woodpeckers were found. One northwest of the property. A male was just short of halfway from the parking lot to the property. A Williamson's Sapsucker was just west of the turnoff sign.

Other birds observed included 2 Fox Sparrows (gray form), Wilson's Warblers, Hammond's Flycatcher, Cordilleran Flycatcher, Golden-crowned Kinglets, and Ruby-crowned Kinglets.

After dinner, we hiked up the Saint Johns and Hunkidori Trails outside of Montezuma. There was a tremendous rainstorm, which most likely kept owls from calling. We did hear one Northern Pygmy-Owl about 0.8 miles up the Saint Johns Trail.

We could not find any Boreal Owls, which have been in the area in past years/trips.

Hike Up the Colorado Trail, Jefferson County

July 25 to July 27, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I started out Sunday morning to count birds especially owls in Pike National Forest. We wanted to go up Waterton Canyon one more time before its closure on August 2nd. Waterton Canyon will be closed through 2011 (proposed closed dates: 8/2/2010 to 12/3/2010 and 2/28/2011 to 12/31/2011).

As it turned out, our trek went through Roxborough State Park and we did not pass through Waterton Canyon. I had been through the canyon many times before, and except for an occasional Northern Pygmy-Owl around the manager's office in winter, the best owling is south of Strontia Springs Reservoir (after Waterton Canyon trail meets the Colorado Trail).

In the two days/nights we wandered the area, we went through the State Park to the east leg of the Indian Creek Loop Trail (# 800) to the Trailhead and camping area, then returned by way of the Indian Creek Loop (west leg) to the Colorado Trail. From there we took the Colorado Trail to Highway 97. Each leg is about 6 or so miles.

Initially, We took the long way around the Carpenter Peak trail (east leg to west leg to pick up the Indian Creek Trail). Several Ovenbirds were heard along the eastern leg of the Carpenter's Peak Trail (first reported several weeks ago by Jerry Petrosky). The top of Carpenter's Peak provides a nice view, not many birds however.

Eventually we found Northern Pygmy-Owls: 3 along the Indian Creek Trail and 2 along the Colorado Trail.
Other birds:
Williamson's Sapsuckers: 2 locations
Pine Grosbeak: 3 locations
Red Crossbills: 4 flocks
Northern Goshawk: 1
Great Horned Owl: 2 locations

Early yesterday, after being picked up along Hwy 96 by Sue and Rebecca we continued west to Guanella Pass Road at Grant. We found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan along the Rosalie Trail along the east side of the unnamed hill (11,992 feet) south-southeast of the parking area (Clear Creek County).

We searched unsuccessfully for the American Three-toed Woodpecker reported most of the winter at the gate about 1.6 miles south of the Pass. Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at 2 locations and a Northern Saw-whet Owl was heard when we camped for the night.

This morning we searched for Merlynn Brown's Northern Pygmy-Owl(s) in Pike National Forest (accessed through Pine Valley Ranch Park). No luck, but we did find an American Three-toed Woodpecker near the switchbacks along the Strawberry Jack Trail, east of the Buck Gulch Trail (Jefferson County).

We stopped briefly at Reynolds Park (Jefferson). Too tired to hike to the top of Eagle's View, we only walked along the Elkhorn Trail up the Raven's Roost Trail to 400 yards south of the Service Road. No Dusky Grouse were found but we did see a male Williamson's Sapsucker about 200 yards past the Service Road. We also heard an American Three-toed Woodpecker between the Service Road and the Williamson's Sapsucker location.

Wandering Around Douglas County

July 24, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Four of us went to an afternoon barbecue at a friend's ranch in Douglas County.

We started out early in the morning at Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas). Not many birds moved around the State Park. We did find 2 male Bobolinks east of Castlewood Canyon Road at 0.2 miles south of the Winkler Ranch's entrance.

The rest of the morning, we decided to stop at various ranches with photos of Sharp-tailed Grouse. In the "far" past, they roamed Douglas County. In recent years of tremendous growth in Douglas County, they have vanished. We thought to ask the ranchers if they ever see Sharp-tailed Grouse anymore.

We must have stopped at 14 ranches. No one can remember seeing any Sharp-tailed Grouse. Wild Turkeys still do roam the county on at least 2 of the ranches.

On the way back to Denver (after dark), we played Northern Saw-whet Owl recordings in Castlewood Canyon State Park. No owls responded.

Owls in O'Fallon Park, Jefferson County

July 23, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I searched for owls at O'Fallon Park. We were not that familiar with this park and hiking around at 3:00 am was somewhat aimless.

We did heard both a Northern Pygmy-Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owls (three locations)! Both quite far up the trail.

On the way down after sunrise, we saw a Dusky Grouse run across the trail about 1.2 miles from the trailhead.

Owl Hunt in Shadow Canyon, Boulder County

July 22, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I left Denver at 2:00am and hiked up Shadow Canyon in Boulder County. Fortunately no Mountain Lions or Bears were encountered on our 8 mile hike.

We did heard Northern Pygmy-Owls at two locations after entering the forested area of the hike. A Flammulated Owl was called in with our recordings played at about 3.2 miles from the trailhead.

No Eastern Screech-Owls could be found. After sunrise, we ran into 2 Bushtits on the way back down to our vehicle.

In the afternoon, Rebecca Kosten and I drove through Cherry Creek Reservoir (Arapahoe). We did not find the previously reported Lesser Black-backed Gull but did see 2 of the Black-chinned Hummingbirds that have spent June and July east of the ranger's office.

Acorn Woodpecker in El Paso County

July 21, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Having returned from the Western Slope, I was going to rest today. However the possibly of an El Paso County Acorn Woodpecker for my county lists was too much to ignore.

Rebecca Kosten and I arrived at the Colorado Springs yard around 1:00 pm. Shortly thereafter, the female Acorn Woodpecker flew to the house at 1203 Vista Drive! There are not going to be many Acorn Woodpeckers showing up in El Paso County, great sighting!

Next, we stopped at a friend's residence in Falcon. Robert and Lauren Staley have been providing photos every summer for years and it was nice to meet them finally!

Our route back to Denver was east along Hwy 24 to Elbert Road, then north to Highway 86. It provided us with an opportunity to look for Dickcissels along Elbert Road.

We eventually found Dickcissels at three locations including the traditional site at 4.1 miles south of Hwy 86. At least one Dickcissel flew up from the scattered alfalfa just north of the cornfield.

The other locations were 6.4 miles south of Hwy 86 and 12.0 miles south of Hwy 86. Both have extensive alfalfa fields.

We drove from Lake Gulch Road to Castlewood Canyon Road then north through Castlewood Canyon State Park (Douglas). Three male Bobolinks flew out of the grasses 0.2 miles south of the Winkler Ranch's entrance. No females could be found.

Other birds seen included Tree Swallows, Mountain Bluebirds, Western Bluebirds, Cordilleran Flycatchers, Spotted Towhees, Western Scrub-Jays, Rock Wrens, Vesper Sparrows, and a Savannah Sparrow.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Western Slope Bird Trip (Part 7)

July 17th to 20th, 2010

To be filled in next weekend.

Two weeks with no internet access put me way behind.

Western Slope Bird Trip (Part 6)

July 12th to 16th, 2010

To be filled in next weekend.

Sunday, July 11, 2010

Western Slope Bird Trip (part 5)

July 8th to 11th, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

July 8th

Group B
Today we headed east and north out of Silverton in San Juan County. We planned to camp over night somewhere along Hwy 110 depending upon our progress.

At five miles east of Silverton, we turned east at Howardsville and took Stony Pass Road. Six miles up Stony Pass Road is the Pole Creek Trailhead; it's another 15 miles to Thirtymile Campgrounds and Rio Grande Reservoir. Four miles farther is Road Canyon Reservoir # 2 and # 1. This is NOT a road to take without a 4-wheel drive high clearance vehicle.

These three reservoirs are in Hinsdale County. Road Canyon Reservoir had Ring-necked Ducks and a pair of Lesser Scaup. A pair of Redheads was on Rio Grande Reservoir.

On the return trip we detoured on Forest Road 506 to Bear Town and Kite Lake. It's 1.5 miles from Bear Town to Kite Lake. This hike we did not find any Ptarmigan. A Northern Goshawk flew across the road at 1.8 miles below Bear Town.

We didn't have time to get in much owling. They were all quiet tonight.

Group A
They headed into Disappointment Valley in San Miguel County today.

Two Long-eared Owls were found with the help of GPS Waypoints of a previous site.

Rich Stevens had once videotaped Bendire's Thrashers in the valley. One of their target birds, none were found this trip.

Up San Miguel County Road 20.R they found a flock of Pinyon Jays. Other birds seen included a Loggerhead Shrike, Black-throated Sparrows and a Northern Mockingbird.

In Dry Creek Basin Wildlife Area they found Sage Thrashers, Black-throated Sparrows and Sage Sparrows. Burrowing Owls are supposed to nest in the area but they couldn't find them. Nor did they find any Cassin's Sparrows which also have been reported in the Wildlife Area.

Miramonte Reservoir was slow. They knew that Gunnison Sage-Grouse have been reported around the reservoir. They searched at dusk and found none.

July 9th

Group B
We continued north up Highway 110 to Animas Forks Ghost Town in San Juan County. Nothing uncommon was found. We really hoped to find a Yellow-billed Cuckoo which would be a first county record; no such luck.

From the Ghost Town turnoff we drove east along Cinnamon Pass Road to Lake City. The highlight was definitely a Long-eared Owl near the turnoff. At Cinnamon Pass we returned once again to Hinsdale County.

A Three-toed Woodpecker was heard drumming near Burrows Park Town Site in Hinsdale County.

We made the side trip to Wager Gulch and Carson Ghost Town. We could not get high enough above tree line to search for Ptarmigan. The view of the Continental Divide is worth the trip. However, a high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must.

Another highlight of our day was a Common Loon at Lake San Christobal. A Great Egret flew overhead. This maybe a first Hinsdale County record?

Once again we heard no owls. The habitat looked good for Northern Pygmy-Owl or Northern Saw-whet Owls; we just didn't get any response to our recordings. Campgrounds searched included Mill Creek and Williams Creek.

Group A
Owling went well for them this morning. They recorded Flammulated Owls at two locations, Northern Saw-whet Owls at two locations and Northern Pygmy-Owl at one.

Lone Cone Wildlife Area in Dolores County was birdy.

Their day list included Purple Martins, Grace's Warblers, Dusky Flycatchers, a Dusky Grouse and Northern Goshawk.

July 10th

Group B
We returned west to Silverton today by way of Engineer Pass Road through American Flats to Ouray. The worst part of the road is the last 5 miles.

A detour up Nellie Creek Road found a Three-toed Woodpecker about 0.25 miles south of the trailhead.

We did make another short detour by driving the 2 miles south along the North Fork Cutoff to the Cinnamon Pass Road and back again to Engineer Pass Road.

Again, high clearance 4-wheel drive vehicle is a must.

Group A
They returned to Ouray and drove up Yankee Basin Road in Ouray County.

Lincoln's and Fox Sparrows were found at the Mt. Sneffels' trailhead. They hiked up Governor's Basin for a mile. Views were great, birding slow. A Rufous Hummingbird was recorded in Yankee Basin.

They also detoured up Imogene Pass Road to Tomboy Ghost Town and 2 miles farther to Social Tunnel. Views from the tunnel back toward Black Bear Pass and Bridal Veil Falls were said to be spectacular. A 4 wheel drive high clearance vehicle is a must.

July 11th

A total rest day, we met up with our fellow birders of Group A and spent the day in Montrose. Tomorrow we start a two day trek along the 90+ mile Uncompahgre Plateau Trail.

Western Slope Bird Trip (part 4)

July 5 to July 7, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Our groups changed again. Jerry Petrosky joined me in Group B and Gary Weston went to Group A that lost Gary Z.

July 5th

Group B
Our first stop was Red Mountain Pass in San Juan County. Two Black Swifts were seen flying overhead.

We continued west to Black Bear Pass and then turned around. At the pass there is a one way sign, if you continue west to Telluride you cannot come back but must circle back around to Ouray.

At Forest Road 822, we detoured to Bullion King Lake. The road ends at 12,466 feet. We hoped to see Ptarmigan and finally found two females wandering around. Another Black Swift was seen flying overhead.

Owl count was zero.

Group A
They started out at 2:00 AM and drove around Dove Creek in Dolores County before sunrise. Their search for Gunnison Sage-Grouse was not successful. They not only missed Gunnison Sage-Grouse at Bug Point but also couldn't find previously reported Burrowing Owls.

Squaw Canyon, Dolores County section of Canyons of the Ancients National Monument was very birdy. They recorded Black-throated Sparrows, Gray Vireos, Juniper Titmice and Black-throated Gray Warblers.

Highlights included a male Scott's Oriole and a flock of 10-12 Pinyon Jays. Gunnison Sage-Grouse were again missed as well as the uncommon Cassin's Kingbird.

Farther south they ran into a couple of Sage Sparrows at Cross Canyon. Several Sage Thrashers were seen between Dove Creek and Squaw Canyon.

They had great success with owls: Flammulated Owls at two locations; Northern Pygmy-Owls at three locations; Northern Saw-whet Owls heard at two locations.

July 6th

Group B
Today we drove Ophir Pass Road from Hwy 550 to Ames and back. First, we decided to tackle the Silver Mine Road. No owls responded to our recordings played below tree line. At the end of the road we hiked the 1.2 miles to Columbine Lake (10,464 feet to 12,685). That's a good gain in elevation in just over a mile. A female Ptarmigan and 3 young were found at 0.4 miles east of the lake. It's a difficult hike, but very beautiful and secluded.

The rest of our day was spent driving. Ophir Pass Road is open country and climbs above tree line. We did not find any Ptarmigan in the talus slopes. Bird wise, it was an uneventful trip. It retrospect, we should have taken Black Bear Pass to Telluride yesterday and returned to highway 550 by way of Ophir Pass and avoided backtracking.

We did hear a Northern Pygmy-Owl at one of our stops east of the summit on our descent.

Group A
They visited Lone Dome Recreation Area in Dolores County today. They called their best highlight a Hooded Warbler!

Early in the morning a Flammulated Owl also called in response to their recordings. Other birds included Common Poorwill, Osprey and Black Phoebe.

A drive up to Glade Lake added Grace's Warblers, Lewis's Woodpeckers, Plumbeous Vireos and a Northern Goshawk. After sunset they heard 2 Flammulated Owls.

July 7th

Group B
Today's visits were Molas Pass and Bolam Pass Roads. We started before sunrise with a drive up South Mineral Road to the Campgrounds. Owling was better. We recorded 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls and a Flammulated Owl. We saw a Fox Sparrow at the Campgrounds. We wanted to hike to Clear Lake north of the Campgrounds but decided not to spare the time.

Molas Pass was interesting. An Osprey was seen at Molas Lake. We did take the time to hike the mile to Little Molas Lake! Another Ptarmigan was found just north of the lake! A Three-toed Woodpecker was seen just west of the pass. A pair of Buffleheads and an Eared Grebe were swimming on Little Molas Lake.

A pair of Purple Martins and 4 Red Crossbills were seen at Coal Bank Pass. From here we left San Juan County and entered La Plata County.

Forest Road 578 (Bolam Pass Road) runs west from hwy 550, just south of the San Juan County Line. It passes Purgatory Ski Area and Sig Creek Campgrounds. The Graysill Mine is just southeast of the summit.

While looking for Three-toed Woodpeckers around the ski area we ran into a Dusky Grouse.

The summit to Balam Pass is actually back in San Juan County. The roads runs along Hermosa Creek. There is an unnamed lake just south of the summit to Bolam Pass.

We hung around the summit until dusk and headed back down stopping every 0.5 miles to play owl recordings. A Boreal Owl responded at stop 3. A Northern Saw-whet Owl at stop 17. Northern Pygmy-Owls at stops 21 and 28.

On the way back to Silverton, we stopped at St. Andrews Lake in San Juan County. A Northern Pygmy-Owl called at the trailhead.

Group A
They finally found a Dolores County Gunnison Sage-Grouse by driving the Wilson Draw area north of Dove Creek. The bird was along C.00, east of 8.00 Road.

They detoured to Uravan and found 2 Black Phoebes along the San Miguel River in Montrose County. Then returned south to Paradox Valley in Montrose County.

They didn't find any of the previously reported Burrowing Owls. Buckeye Reservoir was good for Williamson's Sapsuckers and Grace's Warblers. Sage Thrashers and Sage Sparrows were seen on the trip to Buckeye.

Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at 4 locations in the Manti La Sal National Forest.

Western Slope Bird Trip (Part 3)

July 1 to July 10, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

July 1st

Group B
We drove to the west end of the south rim of the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park in Montrose County before sunrise. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard along the trail to the western overlook. On our way out, two Dusky Grouse were found west of the entrance station. Usually suspects included many Spotted Towhees, Evening Grosbeaks and White-throated Swifts. Two birds surprised us. A Lark Bunting sang from the scrub oak. A Common Poorwill responded to our recordings near the Campgrounds.

Next we took Highway 92 north to Crawford, passing Gould and Crawford Reservoirs. A Green-tailed Towhee was seen at Gould Reservoir. The Common Loon was still at Crawford. Other birds recorded included Cinnamon Teal, Blue-winged Teal, 2 White-faced Ibis, Franklin's Gulls, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and a Clark's Grebe.

Our last stop of the day would be the northern rim of the Black Canyon of Gunnison National Park. We did find a Gunnison Sage-Grouse near the overlook. Two Northern Pygmy-Owls responded to recordings.

Group A
After driving up La Plata CR 207 to Perins Wildlife Area in search of owls (2 Northern Pygmy-Owl) they stopped at Wildcat Canyon and found 2 Acorn Woodpeckers.

Their main goal was to find Ptarmigan around Kennebec Pass in La Plata. Grace's Warblers were found at several stops along 124 Road. They also found a Northern Pygmy-Owl and Flammulated Owl. It took them four hours but a female and 2 young White-tailed Ptarmigan were found. Other birds included Pine Grosbeaks, Lincoln's Sparrows and Brewer's Sparrows. The Brewer's Sparrows were found in alpine tundra. Could they be nesting Timberline Sparrows?

At Junction Creek Campgrounds they recorded Grace's Warblers, 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls, a Flammulated Owl and a Dusky Grouse. A pair of Lewis's Woodpeckers was seen along Junction Creek Road between the Campgrounds and Durango.

Later they drove up to Lake Haviland mainly in search of bats. A pair of Williamson's Sapsuckers and American Three-toed Woodpeckers were added to their La Plata County lists. Others: Osprey, Grace's Warbler and Cordilleran Flycatchers.

Campgrounds searched included: Cherry Creek, Animas and Kroeger.

July 2nd

Group B
We spent our day around Hotchkiss and Paonia areas in Delta County. A Yellow-billed Cuckoo was heard in Hotchkiss. Hummingbirds were a surprise. We had Broad-tailed, a Rufous and a Calliope. Other birds included 4 Band-tailed Pigeons and a couple of Common Nighthawks.

A Lewis's Woodpecker was found in Paonia. Also seen Great Horned Owl and Lazuli Bunting. An American Dipper was recorded at Paonia Reservoir.

Group A
They birded Mancos State Park, Summit Reservoir and Puett Reservoir today.

Best birds at Mancos S.T.P. were Grace's Warblers and an Ovenbird. A Grace's Warbler was found at Summit Reservoir.

They hiked in Box Canyon to Green Beal Spring. Along this route they found two nesting pairs of Purple Martins. Later another pair of Purple Martins was found at Jersey Flats.

A Lewis's Woodpecker was found at Cottonwood Park in Mancos. Black Phoebes were relocated at the J Road Bridge and Mancos River Bridge in Montezuma County.

Owls were quiet this night. They only found one Northern Pygmy-Owl near Transfer Campgrounds.

July 3rd

Group B
We continued our birding in Delta County today. Our search focused on Chukar in Peach Valley. As previous 2010 visits went, no Chukar were found.

Our attempts took us up Chukar Trail and Chukar Road. A few Say's Phoebes were the most interesting until the trip up Chukar Road. The isolated road goes through evergreen forest and 4 flocks of Pinyon Jays were chanced upon. Total count was 137 jays.

We made it all the way down to the Gunnison River, no Chukar in spite of sightings this spring. Our only owl was a Northern Saw-whet Owl along Chukar Road.

Group A
They spent most of the day exploring Yellow Jacket Canyon where a pair of Lucy's Warblers and a pair of Summer Tanagers was relocated.

Pinyon Jays were seen at the Sleeping Ute Rest Stop. Little was found at McPhee Reservoir. Highlights were an Olive-sided Flycatcher and one Black Phoebe. Also recorded Dusky Flycatcher and Gray Flycatchers.

Owl count was again low: 1 Northern Pygmy-Owl and 1 Flammulated Owl.

July 4th

Group B
A Northern Pygmy-Owl and several Grace's Warblers were found along Dave Wood Road. Another Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard along highway 90.

At Sweitzer Lake State Park in Delta County: a Peregrine Falcon flew overhead. Four Chimney Swifts also were flyovers. A late migrating or perhaps early migrating Snowy Plover walked the shore.

Our second Delta County American Dipper was seen at Billy Creek Wildlife Area. Other birds seen included 2 Virginia's Warblers, a small flock of Bushtits, a Sage Sparrow, Loggerhead Shrikes and Spotted Towhees. We thought the Sage Sparrow to be a little out of its element.

Owls heard only included a Northern Saw-whet Owl and 1 Northern Pygmy-Owl.

Group A
They drove between Cortez and Telluride by way of Lizard Head Pass

Campgrounds visited before sunrise included: Montezuma County: Priest, Forks, Dolores: Emerson, Mavreeso, West Dolores, Fish Creek and Burro.

Owl count: Montezuma County: 1 Northern Pygmy-Owl and Dolores: 2 Northern Pygmy-Owl, 1 Northern Saw-whet Owl, 2 Flammulated Owls at different locations.

They searched for White-winged Crossbills and American Three-toed Woodpeckers previously reported at Lizard Head Pass in San Miguel County. Neither species was found.

In the afternoon, several Black Swifts were seen flying over Bridal Falls outside of Telluride.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Western Slope Bird Trip (part 2)

June 27 to 30, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

June 27, 2010

We split up the territory south of Del Norte today.

Group B

We took the Dell Norte to Alamosa to Platoro to Capulin to Monte Vista to Dell Norte.


Two Purple Martins at the Trujillo Meadows Campground. Fox Sparrows were again found at Cumbres Pass. Chama Basin had a few Empidonax Species (Cordilleran Flycatcher and Hammond's Flycatcher).

Campgrounds searched: Elk Creek, Spectacle, Conejos, Trail Creek and Lake Fork. Nothing uncommon was found.

Platoro Reservoir was not a great stop. Alamosa Campgrounds was quiet.

In Rio Grande County stops at Rock Creek and Comstock Campgrounds. A Boreal Owl called west of Rock Creek Campgrounds.

Group A

Dell Norte to Fort Garland to San Luis to Manassa to Alamosa to Dell Norte.

A Mountain Plover was found near last years GPS waypoint south of Monte Vista, Conejos County.

A Rufous Hummingbird was found around Antonito. Black-chinned Hummingbirds in San Luis.

Sanchez Reservoir, Costilla County was slow. A Burrowing Owl was found south of Fort Garland. Sage Sparrows also south of Fort Garland.

After dusk the owl count was:

Rio Grande County
Boreal Owl (1)
Flammulated Owl (1)

Saguache County
Flammulated Owl (2)
Northern Pygmy-Owl (1)
Northern Saw-whet Owl (1)

We had previous GPS waypoints that proved to be effective again this year.

June 28, 2010

Groups were shuffled today. We planned to split up and not meet again until Wednesday.

Group B

We started out listening for owls at the Great Sand Dunes National Park, Alamosa County. A Western Screech-Owl answered our recordings, but the Northern Pygmy-Owls were silent.

A hike to Zapata Falls added Black Swifts to Gary Weston's county list.

From the National Park we continued North to Poncha Pass, Chaffee County where few birds were found. A pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers along Highway 285 was the highlight.

We picked up Forest Road 243 to Forest Road 200 and continued west on Marshall Pass Road, back into Saguache County. We returned to Gunnison by way of Marshall Pass.

Campgrounds searched: O'Haver Lake, Tomichi Creek.

We enjoyed good success on Marshall Pass. Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at two locations both relocated from last year; thanks to GPS waypoints!

A Flammulated Owl was relocated within 300 yards of the 2009 bird. Two Northern Pygmy-Owls were also relocated.

A flyover Purple Martin was seen but its final location not determined.

Our birding day ended back at Gunnison Road 38. At dusk a Gunnison Sage-Grouse crossed the road just north of CR 38A.

Group A

Campgrounds searched: Rio Grande County: Highway Springs, Lower Beaver Creek, Upper Beaver Creek, Cross Creek, Mineral County: Columbine Lake, Park Creek, Big Meadows, West Fork and Wolf Creek.

A very late calling Dusky Grouse sang at Park Creek Campgrounds. A Northern Pygmy-Owl called briefly at Palisade, but it was not seen.

A pair of Black Swifts were seen over Treasure Falls, Wolf Creek Pass.

After dark, owls:

Mineral County
Flammulated Owl at Park Creek Campgrounds
Flammulated Owl near Wolf Creek Pass
Boreal Owl near Wolf Creek Pass
Northern Saw-whet Owl at West Fork Campgrounds

June 29, 2010

Group B

We explored west of Crested Butte along Kebler Pass by way of Ohio Pass, Gunnison County. We had heard that Schofield Pass road was closed and did not try to see how far we could drive up it or to it.

An American Three-toed Woodpecker was seen near the top of Kebler Pass. Several Purple Martins flew around at mile marker 10. This is a traditional location for them. They probably nest somewhere close.

We stopped at Paonia State Park, found few birds, then continued north to McClure Pass. A Dusky Grouse was found about 50 yards south of the cattle guard up Old McClure Pass Road.

We did not find any Purple Martins below the pass. They have been reported in the past. Band-tailed Pigeons were found at the subdivision west of Marble. We searched for hummingbirds in Marble, only saw Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

Near dusk we drove Kebler Pass back to Ohio Pass. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard at Ohio Pass. A Flammulated Owl was heard just west of Kebler Pass summit.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl was found back at Bogan Flats Campgrounds, south of McClure Pass, Gunnison County.

Group A

Campgrounds visited: Hinsdale County: Williams Creek, Cimarrona, Bridge and Piedra.

A Three-toed Woodpecker and Veery were found north of Williams Creek Reservoir. Dusky Grouse were seen at Cimarrona Campgrounds. No owls responded at any Campgrounds.

Archuleta County: Lower Piedra, Ute and Devils Creek.

Navajo Recreation Area in Archuleta County. The highlight here was a Black Phoebe at the Watchable Wildlife Area. After dark a Northern Pygmy-Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl were heard.

June 30, 2010

Group B

Today we drove down Cimarron River Road to Forest Road 860, Gunnison County. We took it down to Owl Pass. We explored Cimarron Wildlife Area and Silver Jack Reservoir.

Campgrounds searched: Gunnison County: Big Cimarron, Beaver Lake and Silver Jack.

At Big Green Mountain Falls we found a Black Swift for the second summer in a row! Three-toed Woodpeckers were found at three stops!

A Northern Saw-whet Owl responded to our recordings at Big Cimarron Campgrounds. A Northern Pygmy-Owl was heard north of Owl Pass.

We returned to Gunnison where the girls picked up their car and returned to Denver.

Group A

They continued along Highway 160 with visits to Vallecito and Pastorius Reservoirs, La Plata County.

Campgrounds visited: La Plata: Vallecito, Pine River, Miller Creek and Transfer Park.

Birds found at Vallecito Reservoir included a Three-toed Woodpecker, Lewis's Woodpeckers, Osprey, Band-tailed Pigeons, Virginia's Warblers, and a surprise: American Redstart.

An Eastern Kingbird was found at Pastorius Reservoir.

Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at 2 locations. Northern Saw-whet Owl at one and a Short-eared Owl at another.

Western Slope Bird Trip (Part 1)

June 23 to 26, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

June 23, 2010

Bryan Ehlmann:

Our little birding group has grown to six birders. In future days we may split into two groups as was done last summer.

Before sunrise this morning we drove down Gunnison County Road 38. We stopped a dozen times and played recordings in an effort to find some owls. None responded to our attempts.

Two Gunnison Sage-Grouse females were near the intersection with CR 38A.

We heard about the Yellow-billed Loon at Blue Mesa Reservoir and headed west in the late morning. When we arrived at the west end where the Yellow-billed Loon was reported, all we found was a Common Loon. This was confirmed later by Coen Dexter! Not much else was around.

The rest of the day was spent birding up Taylor Canyon. We stopped at the Roaring Judy Fishing Unit. A Tennessee Warbler was found at the entrance!

Typical mountain species were found at the Campgrounds along Taylor Canyon Road (Gunnison County Road 742. Nothing unusual was seen at Taylor Reservoir.

Owling after dark was slow. We are at the worst time. Owls have already found mates and are reluctant to exposure their nesting areas. We are birding this area a month earlier than last year. In late July, owling picks up as young fledge and adults are more local in trying to keep track of their young. Late July is another good owling time.

Our owl count was only 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls. Campgrounds checked included: One Mile, Rosy Lane, North Bank, Lodgepole, Cold Springs (American Three-toed Woodpecker), Lottis Creek, and Lake View.

June 24, 2010

We did split into two groups today when we reached Pitkin (Gunnison County).

Group A
Continued up Cumberland Pass to Tincup and then east to Mirror Lake.

At Tincup: a Rufous Hummingbird and Northern Pygmy-Owl were found.

A pair of Northern Pygmy-Owls responded to recordings at Mirror Lake.

A hike around Cumberland Pass: 2 White-tailed Ptarmigan. A pair of Pinyon Jays flew by.

After dark, a Boreal Owl was heard calling north of Cumberland Pass.

Campgrounds searched: Quartz Campgrounds.

Group B

Drove up Forest Road 839 toward the Alpine Tunnel.

Northern Pygmy-Owls were found at Middle Quartz Campgrounds and the road to Brittle Silver Basin.

Campgrounds searched: Middle Quartz and Pitkin.

We then backtracked to Ohio and drove up Forest Road 771. Roads did not allow us to get above tree line and attempt a search for Ptarmigan

Campgrounds searched: Gold Creek and Comanche.

Many mountain species including: Pine Grosbeaks, Mountain Chickadees, Warbling Vireos, an Olive-sided Flycatcher, Broad-tailed Hummingbirds.

Our owl count was 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls.

June 25, 2010

Today our two groups worked areas south of Gunnison.

Group B
Started out with a quick hike up the Neversink Trail (west of Gunnison). A Veery, pair of Least Flycatchers, Virginia's Warbler and a gray race Fox Sparrow were found; no owls.

We continued to Saguache County and stopped at Cochetopa Canyon. Nothing uncommon found, we continued to Dome Lakes State Wildlife Area. Here two Three-toed Woodpeckers were found.

Owl count included 1 Northern Pygmy-Owl and 2 Northern Saw-whet Owls (heard only in response to recordings).

Campgrounds searched: Cochetopa, Dome Lake and Stone Cellar.

Group A

Started out at 4:00 am and drove over North Pass, searching Campgrounds; Buffalo Pass, Big Springs, Storm King, Poso and Natural Arch.

They found 2 Northern Pygmy-Owls at North Pass and another Northern Pygmy-Owl at Buffalo Pass Campgrounds.

Three-toed Woodpeckers were found both at Big Springs and Storm King.

They returned to Gunnison by way of Cochetopa Pass. Another Northern Pygmy-Owl was found about 1/2 mile east of the pass.

June 26, 2010

We started out at Gunnison and again drove south down highway 149. We split up at Gunnison County Road 27. Later we all met at Slumgullion Campgrounds.

Group B

We stopped at Cebolla Creek Campgrounds, Gunnison County and Cebolla Creek Wildlife Area, Hinsdale County. Nothing rare at the Campgrounds but a Northern Pygmy-Owl was called in at the Wildlife Area.

We continued west along County Road 788 and stopped at Cebolla, Spruce and Hidden Valley Campgrounds.

Later in the day we would visit Continental Reservoir and Brown Lakes, Hinsdale County. We thought an Eastern Kingbird at Brown Lakes was an uncommon bird. A White-faced Ibis seemed out of place also.

Campgrounds visited: Slumgullion, Rio Grande and Marshall. No owls, Three-toed Woodpeckers or uncommon birds found. The definite highlight was a flyover of a pair of White-winged Crossbills at Slumgullion Pass.

Group A

Their first stop was Lake Gunnison Wildlife Area, Hinsdale County. Not much there, they moved on to Lake San Cristobal, Hinsdale County. Their most interesting bird was a Common Loon!

They counted birds at Williams Creek and Mill Creek Campgrounds (Grace's Warblers) and Rita Hondo Reservoir. And ended their birding day at the four Creek Falls Campgrounds.

After dark they returned to Slumgullion Pass and Campgrounds and heard two Boreal Owls.