Monday, May 21, 2012

Eastern Plains Bird Trip

May 14-20, 2012

Richard Stevens:

May 14

Bryan Ehlmann and I returned to Pawnee National Grasslands to check on some nesting birds.  Our caravan of two cars included in the 2nd car; Jim & Lory Sachs, Peter & Angel Zimmerman.

We found 2 Chestnut-collared Longspurs in the field southeast of Highway 85 and Weld County Road 114.  They surely nest here (found all summer); however, we have not been able to find a nest.  We sat for quite a while and watched for possible nesting locations.  None yet found.

After the great reports of the birds at Norma's Grove (east of CR 100 & CR 59) we headed over there.  The only uncommon bird found was a Dusky Flycatcher.

Not to challenge anyone to search, however we have found two Mountain Plover nests with eggs.  We will be keeping tabs on their progress (form a good distance away from the nests).

Crow Valley Campground was also slow.  None of the interesting birds reported recently were found.

The Short-billed Dowitcher continued at the Weld County 59 Pond.  Quite a few shorebirds included Red-necked Phalaropes, Wilson's Phalaropes, Long-billed Dowitchers, Black-necked Stilt, American Avocets, Baird's Sandpipers, Least Sandpipers and a Willet.

A Burrowing Owl was relocated at Weld County Roads 90 and 51.

On the way to Wray, we stopped to stretch our legs at Overland Park in Sterling (Logan).  A short walk found a male Baltimore Oriole and a Green Heron along the South Platte River.

May 15

Our caravan continued to Wray last night.  This morning we visited two Greater Prairie-Chicken leks.  More than half a dozen Greater Prairie-Chickens displayed at both leks (one of which is the Yuma County Road 45 Lek, can be viewed, although quite far away, from a public/county road).

Afterwards we continued south to Bonny Reservoir (now Bonny Wildlife Area, as lake water has been drained, sent to Kansas, and there are no open facilities).

We enjoyed quite a day of birding.  At the old Wagon Wheel Campgrounds and Visitor's Center, we found a male Northern Cardinal and male Baltimore Oriole.  Also seen, Red-headed Woodpeckers, Spotted Towhee, Song Sparrows, American Goldfinches, and Dark-eyed Juncos.

We scoped the trickle of water in the Republican River and found 2 Whimbrel, 3 Marbled Godwits and a Long-billed Curlew among a few additional peeps.

On the north side of the Wildlife Area, we walked from the old Foster's Grove Campgrounds to highway 385.  Along the hike, we found 2 Great Crested Flycatchers, 3 Red-bellied Woodpeckers and 5-6 Eastern Bluebirds.  Also encountered: Wild Turkey, empidonax flycatcher (2, not identified, although we tried to make one of them an Alder Flycatcher, Pine Siskin!, Bullock's Orioles, another Red-bellied Woodpecker, etc.

Hale Ponds below/downstream of Bonny Wildlife Area added 2 additional Red-bellied Woodpeckers, a Common Yellowthroat and a Northern Waterthrush (along the Republican River) to our day list.  No Yellow-billed Cuckoos were found.

Also, found during the day: a Long-eared Owl and Barn Owl.  We prefer not to advertise either location.  Both birds could be nesting in their areas (will monitor as we did find one on a nest).

On the way to Burlington (for a motel), we stopped at the Fairview Cemetery (north Burlington).  Bryan found a beautiful warbler, which turned out to be a Cape May Warbler!

We ended our birding day at 8th Street and Rose Avenue.  This location has provided some interesting sightings over the years.  Today a male Summer Tanager was flying around!

Well it was not quite the end.  The six of us headed back to Bonny Wildlife Area where we found Eastern Screech-Owls at both Hale Ponds and the west end of the Wildlife Area.

This was the end of the trip for our cohorts; they headed back east in the morning.  Bryan and I headed up north to a friend's ranch.

May 16

Bryan Ehlmann, Roger Danka and I were at Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) about an hour before sunrise.  Our first bird(s) of the day was a pair of Eastern Screech-Owls.

Eventually we would cover most of the seven mile eastern section of Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area and quite a bit of the western sections.

Highlights included:

At Tamarack Pond area:
Roger found the "warbler of the day" a male Black-throated Green Warbler on the north side of the pond.  Bryan found a Nashville Warbler on the east side and I added a Yellow-billed Cuckoo on the south side.

Eventually we found 5 Northern Cardinals.  Two male and a female around Tamarack Ponds to the maintenance building to the west and two male Northern Cardinals at 1-2 West sections.

As usual, sections 6 & 7 East were the most productive.  Both a male Baltimore Oriole (singing) and 2 Field Sparrows (singing) were the highlights here.

Sections 1-2 West are the best locations to search for Bell's Vireos and Eastern Towhees.  Today we found only 1 Bell's Vireo (better than zero).

Red-bellied Woodpecker count today was 7.  Five in the east sections and two on the west sections.

In the afternoon, we walked the windbreak at Red Lion Wildlife Area (Logan).  A molting male Summer Tanager was on the east side of the Little Jumbo Reservoir.  Later we found a male Red-bellied Woodpecker in the windbreak along highway 138 (from the southern parking area, to east).

As we drove away, Roger pointed out an Upland Sandpiper on a fence post along highway 138 (about 20 yards to west of CR 95).

A stop at Duck Creek Wildlife Area added a Bell's Vireo and Eastern Bluebirds to our day list.

Sedgwick Bar Wildlife Area was even more interesting.  Another Upland Sandpiper, Black-and-white Warbler and Red-bellied Woodpecker were found here.

We ate dinner at Roger's ranch while listening to a couple of Eastern Screech-Owls hooting and Common Poorwill calling.

May 17

Bryan Ehlmann and I were back on our own today.  Our first stop was Jumbo Reservoir (Logan/Sedgwick Counties).  At civil twilight, we heard an Eastern Screech-Owl on the north side of the lake.

There was very little exposed shore as we drove around the reservoir.  A pair of Black-bellied Plovers was found on the west side of the lake.  An American Golden-Plover was walking the southeastern shore.

Hundreds of swallows flew around the northeastern side.  Unfortunately, no Purple Martins were among them.  The Campgrounds were slow.  A few Bullock's Orioles, Western Kingbirds, and an Eastern Kingbird were just about all that was found.  The usual ducks swam around the lake, nothing uncommon was found.

Our next stop was the Pony Express Wildlife Area (Sedgwick County).  A Dickcissel was found in the field south of the property.  The Wildlife Area is not very big and we covered it in less than 1.5 hours.  Highlights included a male Baltimore Oriole and a male Red-bellied Woodpecker.  A few Bullock's Orioles, a pair of Hairy Woodpeckers and a pair of Downy Woodpeckers were also found.

Later we stopped at Julesburg Wildlife Area (Sedgwick).  Here we found a male Northern Cardinal singing west of the parking area.  A White-throated Sparrow was in the field east of the parking area.  A male Bobolink was found as we drove out of the property.

The rest of our day was spent at a private ranch.  Our friend has seen an American Woodcock last week.  Unfortunately, we never relocated the bird.  This ranch was once Dan Bridges favorite birding location in Sedgwick County.  I was fortunate to have "inherited access" when Dan "retired".  Today we found 2 Black-and-white Warblers, a Blackpoll Warbler, a Black-throated Green Warbler, a Blackburnian Warbler, a Tennessee Warbler, a Great Crested Flycatcher, Eastegration were found.

Sand Draw Wildlife Area was also slow.  A male Lazuli Bunting was the most interesting bird found here.  No Field Sparrows could be found today.  Bryan saw 2 Red Crossbills, which could not be relocated later.

We searched for Eastern Screech-Owls at several riparian areas at dusk.  None was found.

May 19

Today Bryan and I were back at Bonny Wildlife Area (Yuma County).  We again heard an Eastern Screech-Owl between Highway 385 and the old Foster's Grove Campgrounds (camping is currently not allowed).

Along the walk, we found a Great Crested Flycatcher, male Baltimore Oriole, and Red-bellied Woodpecker.  A Northern Cardinal flew around the old camping area.

A second Baltimore Oriole and another Red-bellied Woodpecker were found during a walk along the "closed to vehicles" road on the south side of the lake.

A fortunate stop at a friend's ranch added a Prairie Warbler to our trip list.  Bob had seen the warbler on two previous days.

We also visited friends in Kansas (just across the border from Hale) and in Goodland and St. Francis.  We hoped to find an Eastern Meadowlark or Whip-poor-will.  Neither of which was found.

A finally stop at a friend's home in Wray found that her eastern Fox Sparrow had not been seen in a week to ten days.  She still had two pairs of Northern Cardinals visiting her feeders.

May 20

Bryan and I woke up to a Common Poorwill calling south of Hale Ponds.  An Eastern Screech-Owl called briefly north of the ponds (before civil twilight).

We hurried to a nearby Greater Prairie-Chicken lek to catch four male Greater Prairie-Chickens still displaying, then returned for one last look around Bonny & Hale Wildlife Areas.

We made the 4 mile walk that I have around the Hale Ponds & Republican River.  Highlights included a Yellow-billed Cuckoo northwest of the most western pond.

A small loose flock of birds included Black-capped Chickadees, Yellow-rumped Warblers, an Orange-crowned Warbler and a male Magnolia Warbler.  The flock was along the Republican River and just inside the Colorado border and Yuma County (later, the Magnolia Warbler was recorded as being in Cheyenne County, Kansas).

Two stops on the way back to Denver were not productive.

Last Chance Rest Stop (Washington) did not have any uncommon birds.  Two Yellow-rumped Warblers and a Ruby-crowned Kinglet were the "highlights".

The rest stop at Byers was also slow.  Again several (3) Yellow-rumped Warblers were the "highlights".

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Great Blog! Wish I could have gone on a trip like this!

Bill Cryder