Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Owling Trip to Pennock & Cameron Passes

July 31-August 1, 2011

Richard Stevens

We had two cars, four birders on the owling trip Sunday night. Unfortunately, a thunder and lightning storm hit the foothills west of Fort Collins around sunset. In my experience, this has never been good for successful owling.

A Flammulated Owl was found while walking a mile at the top of Pennock Pass (Larimer County).

A little after midnight, we heard a Boreal Owl near one of the Joe Wright Parking Areas (Larimer). Later, another Boreal Owl was heard in Jackson County.

While the other birders took a catnap, I walked a half mile either side of Cameron Pass. I briefly heard another Boreal Owl on the Larimer County side. The clear sky at 10,256 feet was filled with so many stars. Occasionally a satellite would streak across the sky. The descent of falling stars briefly left a trail of bright light.

At civil twilight, I enjoyed listening to a noisy forest. At least 12 Hermit Thrushes, half a dozen Pine Grosbeaks, 4 Red Crossbills and many Pine Siskins filled the air with song. Always a treat to sit and listen to the waking of the forest.

When I returned to the car about sunrise, a young male Moose was walking up the side of Highway 14. Eventually, he came within 20 yards of the car, more interested in feeding on the willows than us.

We watched the hummingbirds at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center for about an hour. Many Broad-tailed Hummingbirds, a few Rufous Hummingbirds and a female Calliope Hummingbird were observed.

Other birds included Pine Grosbeaks, Cassin's Finches and Dark-eyed Juncos.

When we went to a late breakfast in Walden, our driver saw a possible White-winged Dove. We stopped for a better look (one or two have been spotted) at McKinley and 6th street; the trees were filled with Common Nighthawks. I counted at least 18 in two yards.

Our next stop was the auto tour at Arapaho National Wildlife Refuge (Jackson County). There were quite a few shorebirds, which included 2 Marbled Godwits, 3 Willets, 6 Long-billed Dowitchers, Greater Yellowlegs, Lesser Yellowlegs, 2 Baird's Sandpipers, a Stilt Sandpiper and Killdeer.

Several Sage Thrashers and many Chipping Sparrows were found in the surrounding sage.

We heard about the return (relocating) of the Rufous collared Sparrow in Georgetown and headed south. Unfortunately, we did not find it during our short one hour visit.

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