Monday, March 14, 2011

Birding Yuma County

March 10, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Roger Danka and I headed south to Yuma County several hours before sunrise. I knew of three Greater Prairie-Chicken leks (past) that were close together. At the first two leks (south of Yuma), we found displaying Greater Prairie-Chickens. The third was empty; however, there was no way to know if this was because of our late arrival, or no visiting birds.

Afterwards, we continued to Bonny Reservoir and Hale Ponds (Yuma). Red-bellied Woodpeckers were found along the road that runs parallel to the southern shore of Bonny Reservoir. This road in now walk in only. Wild Turkey tracks alerted us to their presence before 3 walked out of the windbreak along the road.

Bonny Reservoir is in bad shape. Talk is that it will soon be re-designated a Wildlife Area instead of a State Park. This perhaps is not bad news for birds and birders. Fewer visitors (used to modern facilities) will result in fewer disturbances of habitat and animal populations.

Another pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers and five Eastern Bluebirds were found at the east end of Hale Ponds. The Hale windbreak where Long-eared Owls have wintered in the past has taken quite a hit from winds and drought.

We visited an old friend in nearby Kansas and then swung around a little north back into Colorado. Two ranchers were found that do have Greater Prairie-Chicken leks on their properties! It was not necessary for us to visit the sites; we just wanted them marked for history.

At dusk, we sat near another lek that had birds in 2008 & 2009. None came by this evening. We returned to Julesburg, but first drove south back through Hale Ponds Wildlife Area and Bonny Reservoir.

It was too early for Common Poorwill or Common Nighthawks, however we looked anyway; without success. Both the Eastern Screech-Owls at Hale Ponds and the western end of Bonny Reservoir responded to our recordings!

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