Sunday, October 31, 2010

A Quick Trip to the Eastern Plains

October 30-31, 2010

Richard Stevens:

Four Denver birders enjoyed a quick trip to Eastern Colorado. Saturday night we were served some great fried chicken and other fattening foods at Judy Danka's birthday party!

Oct 30th

Our first stop was Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County). While walking along the southern dam, we found a Red Phalarope and 2 Red-necked Phalaropes swimming about 20 yards offshore.

A Merlin stood in the trees near the ponds east of the parking area. There were plenty of ducks and gulls; however, no uncommon birds were picked out of the hundreds out there.

A search for Long-eared Owls in the western Campgrounds turned out to be zero. A White-throated Sparrow was found when we searched the grove of trees northwest of the boat dock parking area.

We stopped only briefly at Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan). Nothing uncommon could be found. Nothing was on the pond. The resident Red-bellied Woodpeckers also eluded us.

Our final stop was Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington Counties).

A few interesting birds moved about, but the numbers were not near as high as last week.

The highlight of the day was an immature Blackburnian Warbler at the inlet grove. Two Bonaparte's Gulls flew by several times.

Shorebirds included expected species: Long-billed Dowitchers, Least Sandpipers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, Western Sandpipers and a Stilt Sandpiper.

We hung around until dusk; did not get an Eastern Screech-Owl to make an appearance.

Oct 31st

Before sunrise, we drove down the road running along the eastern side of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan). An Eastern Screech-Owl called near section 6E.

Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick) has a nice collection of birds. The best was an American Golden-Plover by himself below the dam. Two Black-bellied Plovers were seen farther east near the private property.

The Campgrounds were slow. While 3 Greater White-fronted Geese swam in the northeast corner of the reservoir. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull and Bonaparte's Gull were seen flying while we stopped at the northwest corner of the reservoir (we were looking for birds below the road running north-south. Nothing popped out today.

From the northeast corner of Colorado, we headed to Yuma County and Bonny Reservoir.

While looking for the Northern Cardinal and Long-eared Owl reported earlier, we found a Black-bellied Plover walking along the shore south of Foster's Grove Campgrounds.

From the dam, we scoped the many gulls; the only uncommon Gull was a Bonaparte's Gull. We searched quite a while for the Laughing Gull reported yesterday; without success.

We circled to the Hopper Ponds area in hopes of relocating the Swamp Sparrow or Eastern Towhee found on 10/17; without success. Bryan did find a White-throated Sparrow. In the past, a rare "Ammodramus" sparrow has been found in the high grasses; however not today.

An hour was spent searching for Long-eared Owls at Hale; without success. The windbreak has taken some drought, wind damage, and is not as thick as past years. Here is hoping Long-eared Owls will still choose to winter!

When we came out of the windbreak, a Harris's Sparrow was observed on the fence along County Road 4 at 0.1 miles east of County Road LLL.5. He eventually dove down into the high brush (in the same area).

At Hale Ponds, we found a flock of 11 Yellow-rumped Warblers. A male Red-bellied Woodpecker wandered between the Hale Ponds.

At an undisclosed location at Bonny Reservoir, we finally found at least one Long-eared Owl. They have nested in this area almost every summer (so we chose not to direct birders to the spot). I did get a photo of the occupied nest last summer and the unoccupied nest today.

Instead of waiting for dark for a screech owl search, we decided to try to relocate the Common Redpoll found earlier in the day at Flagler Reservoir.

Our arrival at Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson) was quite late due to traffic in Burlington. We had only 30 minutes before sunrise to search for the Common Redpoll; without success. The White-throated Sparrow was loosely associated with a mixed flock of American Tree Sparrows, White-crowned Sparrows and Song Sparrows at the northeast corner of the property.

No uncommon birds were found below the dam. A Great Horned Owl did call to a mate. We stood at the western end of the dam and waited for Short-eared Owls to come out; again without success.

No comments: