Thursday, July 29, 2010

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.

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