Saturday, July 3, 2010

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.

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