Friday, March 18, 2011

Owling In Larimer County

March 15 into 16, 2011

Richard Stevens and I were planning to drive all night yesterday to see the Red-necked Phalarope at the Redlands North Pond in Grand Junction. We missed it the week before when it was at the RiverFront Trail. Well, gone from the RiverFront Trail. Fortunately, Bob Bradley wrote that the bird was gone and we skipped the 280-mile drive.

Instead, we went owling in Estes Park, Larimer last night. This is the time of year the owls are vocal in searching for mates. We found Northern Pygmy-Owls at four locations and Northern Saw-whet Owls at two. Cow Creek Trail is a good one to start. The subdivision east of the YMCA of the Rockies is another. Walk around in the dark and keep your ears alert!

Our first stop was Cow Creek Trail north of Estes Park. It was a pleasant mile walk to the intersection of the many trails near Cow Creek. We heard a Northern Pygmy-Owl first east of the wooden stairs about 0.7 miles from the trailhead. Later a second Northern Pygmy-Owl called at the intersection.

We played a Flammulated Owl recording hoping for an early bird. Pygmy Owls were all that we heard.

Next, we drove around Estes Park playing both Northern Pygmy-Owl and Northern Saw-whet Owl recordings. One Northern Saw-whet Owl was very accommodating!

Our third stop was the YMCA of the Rockies. Again we hoped for a Flammulated Owl, however had to settle for a Northern Saw-whet Owl at the west side of the area.

Before leaving Estes Park, we walked the homes across (east) of the YMCA of Rockies. Two Northern Pygmy-Owls were calling as we hiked the roads. No owls could be coaxed into responding to recordings at the Estes Park Campgrounds. Richard has found owls there in past years.

After leaving Estes Park, we found another Northern Saw-whet Owl and Northern Pygmy-Owl just north of Boulder County on the way back to Lyons. It definitely is a good time to go out owling!

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