Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Adams to Jackson County

September 24-25, 2012

Richard Stevens:

Bryan Ehlmann and I searched for owls around Barr Lake State Park (Adams County) before sunrise.  We did not have any luck and decided to take a quick look around the Niedrach Boardwalk Trail at Barr Lake.  Temperatures were in the 50s, winds mild and skies overcast.

A Plumbeous Vireo and House Wren were among the few birds moving around the boardwalk.  A Common Yellowthroat popped up from the willows just south of the boardwalk loop.

We then drove over to the boat ramp area and walked back to the Pioneer Trail.  A pair of Townsend's Warblers flew about the cottonwoods just south of the trailhead.  A decision to skip continuing to the banding area turned out not a good one (more later).

Instead, we hiked from the boat ramp to the stone house below the dam.  A Cassin's Vireo was found in the Russian Olive trees near mile marker 6.8.  A few Yellow-rumped Warblers were about the only additional birds found.

Next, we headed west to Belmar Historic Park where a Palm Warbler was reported yesterday.  The first bird found was a Townsend's Warbler just north of the covered footbridge.  A real surprise was a juvenile Ash-throated Flycatcher in the bushes near the footbridge.

In the next hour, we examined 36+ Yellow-rumped Warblers along the southern side of Kountze Lake without finding the Palm Warbler.  A MacGillivray's Warbler, Wilson's Warbler and Orange-crowned Warbler were found near the horse trail footbridge at the northwest corner of Kountze Lake.

We returned to Barr Lake to pick up Jacob Washburn and Ray Simmons for an owling trip.  A Bay-breasted Warbler had been reported at the banding station (about 200 yards west of our earlier hike) and the four of us looked for it unsuccessfully for about 45 minutes.

So we headed up to Pennock Pass (Larimer).  The weather up there was fantastic with cool temperatures and no wind.  The waxing 1/2 moon lit up the forest road and trees.  All were entertained by the night/forest sounds.  Trying to figure out which birds were calling was a good challenge.  On nights like this, birds can be quite busy filling the airwaves.

Eventually, we found 2 Flammulated Owls near Pennock Pass's Summit.

On hour before midnight, our group continued north and west to Cameron Pass.  The calm winds made our hike around the Crags Campgrounds and the Cameron Pass Summit pleasurable.  Again, birds were quite noisy.

Two Boreal Owls were heard south of the Campgrounds and another just west of the Pass's Summit.

Jacob and Ray decided to get some sleep while Bryan and I decided to drive into the Colorado State Forest.  I have found that the best times to find Boreal Owls is an hour after complete dark and again 2 hours before sunrise.

Bryan and I walked from the intersection of Michigan Creek and Ruby Jewell Roads for about a mile to the east.  On the return trip, a Boreal Owl was heard about 0.4 miles from the intersection.  When we reached the clearing about 0.1 miles from the intersection a Flammulated Owl was calling.   

By sunrise, both of us we tired and we went for some shuteye.

We woke up around noon to drizzling skies and 8+ mph winds.  Jacob and Ray had checked several hummingbird feeders around Gould and the KOA Campgrounds at the entrance to the Colorado State Forest.  A few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds and fewer Rufous Hummingbirds are still around.

At 2:00 pm, it started to snow.  While the landscape rapidly turning white was picturesque, the conditions were not encouraging for our planned Northern Saw-whet Owl search later tonight. 

A stop at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center added Pine Grosbeaks, Pine Siskins, Mountain Chickadees, a Wilson's Warbler, Clark's Nutcrackers, Gray Jays and a few Broad-tailed Hummingbirds to our day list.

Finally, we decided to call tonight's owling off and returned to Denver.  We did stop at our intended search area west of Loveland (a friend's ranch) and looked around for an hour.  Finding a Northern Saw-whet Owl hidden in a forest of trees (and while it is raining) is not a high percentage operation (none was found).

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