Thursday, March 22, 2012

Five Owl Day!!!

March 21, 2012

Richard Stevens:

When I woke up at 4:00 am, there was an email by Phil Buchhotz of a Snowy Owl sighting on a telephone pole at Highway 52 and Weld County Road 77 (at 6:30 pm the previous evening). I woke up Rebecca and we headed that way at sunrise.

We scoped dozens of white bags (drat King Soopers for their white grocery bags). We continued east from the above intersection and I noticed a white spot on a fence post at 0.9 miles east of Hwy 52 & CR 77. Through my binoculars, I could see that it was clearly a Snowy Owl.

We pulled over and set up our scopes. Then watched what seemed to be an adult male Snowy Owl for the next 30 minutes. At first, it appeared to watch us also. Then it turned its back on us and continued its hunt for food.

Afterwards, we passed Banner Lakes Wildlife Area (Weld) and of course, we stopped. I limped down from the parking area (my spider bitten leg is still quite sore).

Each pond looked to have a different mix of ducks. Except for rare ducks, most of the common ones were represented. Although, I only found one male Northern Pintail Duck.

An adult Bald Eagle flew overhead and was harassed by a Red-tailed Hawk. A pair of Blue Jays was in the windbreak along Pond 6.

Eventually, I found 4 Long-eared Owls. One was in a nest. A Great Horned Owl was in a nest on the east side of Pond 7. It was a good morning (now three owl species!).

After lunch, Rebecca and I drove through the town of Barr. The fifty+ Great-tailed Grackles are still at the south end of the main road into town.

We did a little shopping and waited until the last hour before sunset. Then drove over to the DIA Owl Loop. The prairie dog town at 3.4 miles east of Tower Road and 96th avenue was scoped for about 20 minutes. Finally, we found our first Burrowing Owl of 2012! It was 20-30 yards west of the closest fence to the road.

Shortly after sunset, Rebecca pointed out a Short-eared Owl about 100 yards east of the same prairie dog village (making it a five owl day!).

During the day, the raptor count included species: Red-tailed Hawks, one Rough-legged Hawk (I76 service road, east of Barr Lake), Ferruginous Hawk (112th avenue), American Kestrels and a Prairie Falcon (96th avenue).

Sunset ended a fantastic birding day!

P.S. the Snowy Owl was seen throughout the day at least until 2:30 pm.

No comments: