Saturday, December 31, 2011

A Nine Owl Day

December 28, 2011

Richard Stevens:

In the past, I have written about my owling experiences, sharing sightings and locations. In the past month, several incidences have been brought to my attention.

Bryan and I stayed at a motel in Walden. As my usual behavior, I inquired with the innkeeper about any bird sightings in the neighborhood. She gave me a piece of paper with directions to the bird(s) I was looking to see. This paper described in detail directions to the birding spot. Unfortunately, the directions were word for word directions that I have given to another birder for finding the bird(s). That contribution was presented with a promise not to tell anyone else about the birding site. So much for secrets, as is said, if you want a secret kept, tell no one.

In addition, this month, two other of my most visited and unadvertised birding locations were revealed on the internet. These directions were also shared with a promise (word given) that they would not be published.

I have learned my lesson and will not be as forthcoming in the future of sensitive birding locations.

Bryan Ehlmann and I started out with a simple goal of seeing the Snowy Owl at Aurora Reservoir. It blossomed into much more. At first light, we scoped the south side of Aurora Reservoir from a friend's balcony. The Snowy Owl was down there.

Not even sunrise and our target bird was found. What to do with the rest of the day? After checking my text messages, I read about a friend in Weld County who had a Golden-crowned Sparrow visiting his feeders. Another friend had a Northern Saw-whet Owl in his evergreens (also Weld County).

The idea came to our minds to attempt to see as many owls as we could in the one day. After all, we had already seen one of the most uncommon owls.

As we headed north to Weld County, we stopped at a friend's ranch in Adams County. The Barn Owl was of course in his barn!

A detour to Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) added two Long-eared Owls to our day list.

We had to detour into Morgan County to pick up an Eastern Screech-Owl.

Wellington Wildlife Area added a pair of Great Horned Owls. A check of the windbreak found a Short-eared Owl!

Next a stop for lunch (thanks Bill) at my friend's home. One Golden-crowned Sparrow and a Northern Saw-whet Owl seen (Weld).

The next owl was tricky and not at all a sure thing. Bryan and I drove up and down Rist Canyon (Larimer) for about an hour. Finally, we got a response to a Northern Pygmy-Owl! It was just east of Whale Rock (a known location for Pygmy Owls).

After dark, we reached Cameron Pass and relocated a Boreal Owl (heard only).

In was not that late and we tossed around the idea of heading west for a Western Screech-Owl. The location of known Western Screech-Owls could have been reached an hour before midnight.

The idea of adding 170+ miles to our day was not that inviting. Dotsero was 40+ miles less, however we could not be sure of access to Colorado River Road in winter. I called a friend in Glenwood Springs. He had not heard or seen his Western Screech-Owl in several months. This ended our "quest". Nine owls in one winter day are not so bad!

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