Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Longspur and Ptarmigan Searches

March 29, 2011

Richard Stevens:

Rich Rienbolt and I headed to Pawnee National Grasslands (Weld County) because Loveland Pass (Clear Creek) was closed for the second day due to recent snows.

The scenery was spectacular, finding birds on land that was still snow covered at noon, not so easy. I thought we would find at least one or two of the three longspurs. We found none. Finding Mountain Plover was also not so easy or successful. The birds found last week must have been hunkered down under the snow ladened grasses?

The highlights were an adult Golden Eagle along Weld County Road 51 north of highway 14. Hundreds of Horned Larks scurried across the gravel roads. However, not one longspur was to be seen.

We had to walk into Crow Valley Campgrounds (still closed at entrance to vehicles). A Great Horned Owl carried a rabbit to a mate! Northern Flickers the only other birds to be seen at the Campgrounds.

A dozen male American Kestrels were out hunting. We wondered if the females were all sitting on nests somewhere? A male Northern Harrier and several Red-tailed Hawks were also observed.

Loveland Pass opened at noon and we drove the 170 miles south and west for a White-tailed Ptarmigan search. When we arrived at the pass (Clear Creek/Summit Counties), dozens of skiers and snowboarders covered the slopes. There was little untracked snow. We found no Ptarmigan. Again the scenery was outstanding, a ptarmigan or two would have been a nice bonus.

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