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.

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