Monday, November 15, 2010

Visit to La Veta and Walsenburg

November 9, 2010

Richard Stevens:

I drove most of the night first to return to Denver, changed clothes and was off to Walsenburg and the La Veta home (Huerfano County) of Paul and Polly Neldner to see their Eastern Towhee.

I arrived in La Veta an hour before sunrise and walked around the riparian area north of town listening to the night. A pair of Great Horned Owls called back and forth to each other.

At 6:20 (sunrise was 6:35 am), I parked in the Neldner's driveway and waited only a few minutes for signs of morning activity.

We did not have to wait more than 10 minutes for the female Eastern Towhee to make an appearance. She came below their feeders several times before I departed at 7:00 am.

On the way out of the area, I took the first county road (Huajatolla Blvd) heading south (from west of CR 359). About halfway between Monroe and the cemetery, four Pinyon Jays were in the evergreen trees around the one story house (only evergreen trees encountered).

I continued into La Veta and drove around the neighborhood at San Francisco Street and the River. A White-winged Dove was found at East Virginia Street and Elm Street.

Next, I headed back toward Walsenburg and Lathrop State Park. Along the way, I noticed a sign for the Walsenburg Water Supply (on some maps; Walsenburg Reservoir) and decided to check it out.

As soon as I turned south on Huerfano County Road 346 (Spanish Peaks Blvd), there was a flock of 31+ Pinyon Jays. Walsenburg Reservoir is best scoped from the next road going west (Taylor Road). A female/immature Black Scoter was on the lake. Also seen: 4 Western Grebes and a Pied-billed Grebe.

I circled Lathrop State Park twice. Birds observed included a Pacific Loon, Common Loon and Red-necked Grebe. I was looking for (more or less, since the only directions were north side of Martin Lake) the Winter Wren.

A Marsh Wren was found in the cattails between Martin and Horseshoe Lakes. While photographing birds from the west side of Martin Lake, I noticed a flock of Yellow-rumped Warblers in the Russian Olive Trees west of the Martin Lake south inlet parking area.

A closer inspection found 9+ Yellow-rumped Warblers and a western Palm Warbler.

After lunch I worked my way down to Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area (accessed from New Mexico). After sunset and civil twilight, I set up 6 "listening stations" for Northern Saw-whet Owls. Three each for an hour and then moved to another location. One Northern Saw-whet Owl was found. While I was setting them up, a Northern Pygmy-Owl called from the northwest side of the lake.

Then I moved around to the northern access to Lake Dorothey Wildlife Area and set up again 3 & 3 "listening stations". Again having success at two of them.

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