Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Search for Owls on Northern Plains

June 24, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I took the Zimmermans up to the Pawnee National Grasslands area (Weld County).  Strictly speaking, we did not stay on the Pawnee National Grasslands but wandered north and east also.

We only had to walk about 200 yards before finding a pair of Chestnut-collared Longspurs on the field in the southeast corner of Highway 85 and Weld County Road 114.  It was nice to succeed in only 15 minutes (having spent hours on past searches).

Norma's Grove (east of CR 100 & 57) was quiet.  A hot looking Western Kingbird was the only bird moving about.  We found our trip Burrowing Owl at CR 90 & 51.

We checked the several plover nesting areas I discovered this spring.  An adult and one young Mountain Plover were at one of the locations.  McCown's Longspurs and Lark Buntings were just about everywhere.

Another adult and young Mountain Plover were found near CR 94 and 63.  Another Mountain Plover was found at Highway 14 & CR 51.

Crow Valley Campground had a few interesting birds.  We found an Ash-throated Flycatcher at the southwest corner.  An American Redstart was in the Russian Olive trees east of the group picnic area.  A Northern Mockingbird was on the fence by the ball field.

Unfortunately, no owls were found at the Campgrounds, Briggsdale Cemetery or the Washington Work Center.

We headed to Jackson Reservoir (Morgan) by way of Weld CR 105.  Just before entering Morgan County (where WCR 105 turns into MCR 4), a flock of longspurs and Horned Larks stopped us.  At least a dozen McCown's Longspurs and at least one Chestnut-collared Longspur were among the flock of 200+ birds.

A Sage Thrasher stood on a post at the northeast corner of Jackson Reservoir (CR 4 & CCCC).  Many mosquitoes and few birds influenced our stop at the Jackson Reservoir Wildlife Area to be quite brief!

We continued to Fort Morgan for lunch (determined to return to Jackson Reservoir when it was cooler later in the afternoon).

After lunch, we stopped at Brush Wildlife Area (Morgan).  We relocated a male Red-bellied Woodpecker that is resident at the Wildlife Area (missed the female).  The resident Eastern Screech-Owl could not be lured into coming out in the heat.

We walked the eastern end of Fort Morgan Ponds.  An American Woodcock was a long shot (and not found).  We did entice a Yellow-billed Cuckoo to respond to our recording.

At dusk, we were back at Jackson Reservoir.  One of the Long-eared Owls was still near a nest I found several months ago.  I do not believe that they successfully nested (I passed by enough times that if they had succeeded, I would have observed eggs or young birds; neither happened).

After civil twilight, an Eastern Screech-Owl called along the western shore.  A Great Horned Owl called south of the Visitor's Center and west of the Campgrounds main road.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.

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