Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mountain Birding

September 23 to 25, 2010

Hello Gary,

September 23
Early Thursday, Bryan & Sue Ehlmann, Rebecca Kosten, and I drove through Rocky Mountain National Park (Larimer). Winters on the way, or at least snowstorms that will close down Trail Ridge Road. It was probably our last visit of the year.

We first visited Medicine Bow Curve west of the Trading Post. Winds were 8+ mph with gusts to 14 mph; temperatures in the 40s. Luck was with us, Bryan noticed two White-tailed Ptarmigan about 10 yards below the trail (at 300 yards north of the pullover). A few White-crowned Sparrows and what we assumed were Timberline Brewer's Sparrows sang from the tops of the willows. We believe they will be leaving for lower elevations soon (or do they stay?, I will have to look into that).

Not much was flying around behind the Trading Post and we backtracked to the Lava Cliffs pullover. A pair of Brown-capped Rosy Finches was flying around here. At least 4 Mountain Bluebirds also braved the cold and wind.

Our two car caravan continued west to Granby. Several stops to search for American Three-toed Woodpeckers were not successful. We scoped both Shadow Mountain and Lake Granby only briefly and found nothing uncommon to report.

At Hwy 40 and Hwy 125, we turned north. A few Common Goldeneyes and at least one Barrow's Goldeneye were on Windy Gap Reservoir. California Gulls were the most numerous Gulls. A few American White Pelicans were also there.

Nothing unusual was found at Owl Mountain Wildlife Area (Jackson County). A few California Gulls were at Walden Reservoir. No Greater Sage-Grouse showed up at the CR 26 leks near sunset.

We dropped the girls off at Gould and Bryan and I wandered the Colorado State Forest after dark until about 5:00 am.

September 24
Walking around in Bear Country after dark is interesting (for some reason, it is comforting to have another person along? Witness if a bear gets me or another choice of victim if we run across a bear? I choose the first one, but it is false security). We heard several Elk (their breathing is quite loud). At one point, I believe we did hear a bear. Their breathing is different from elk, slower and deeper. I also think one can feel the ground as they walk; this has to be ridiculous or not? In any case, we did not see it.

Eventually we walked up several of the side roads off Michigan Creek Road in the Colorado State Forest. Our most successful trek was a mile walk up Ruby Jewel Road. Two Boreal Owls called around 4:00 am (about 3/4 mile up the road). Unless one is in a jeep, driving more than 1/2 mile up this road is suicide for a car, one that you care about anyway).

After a few hours sleep, we all walked around Gould and then traveled to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. A few hummingbirds are still around, but they are thinning out quite a bit.

Bryan heard and then found a Three-toed Woodpecker at the Visitor's Center. A few Gray Jays, Wilson's Warblers, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees and hummingbirds were also there.

Bryan and Sue continued to Steamboat Springs for a few days celebration (wedding anniversary). While we headed back to Denver. Of course, I could not drive all that way without a possibly of hearing some owls. Our route detoured over Pennock Pass (Larimer) to Loveland. I did not locate any Flammulated Owls or Common Poorwills this evening (morning).

I dropped Rebecca off and met you at Rocky Mountain Arsenal on Saturday morning.

Richard (Stevens)

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