Monday, September 17, 2012

Colorado Eastern Plains Sept. 12-15, 2012

September 12-15, 2012
Richard Stevens:

September 12, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I headed to Prewitt Reservoir to see if the Ruddy Turnstones were still there.

We stopped at Jackson Reservoir (Morgan County) first.  No uncommon gulls or shorebirds were found from the southern dam or the northeastern Wildlife Area.

The western Campgrounds were the most interesting.  We eventually found a Cassin's Vireo, Red-eyed Vireo and 3+ Townsend's Warblers.

One of the Long-eared Owls that has been around all year (see photo on CoBus photo library) was in the same area as all last winter.  One pair may have nested this summer at Jackson Reservoir.

We finally made it to Prewitt Reservoir (Logan/Washington) in the afternoon.  The Ruddy Turnstones were still along the water's edge in the northeastern corner.

We walked from the most eastern parking area to the manager's office/home and back.  Most interesting birds were a Philadelphia Vireo and Cassin's Vireo.

Two Common Terns were observed flying over the reservoir.

At dusk, we played recordings below the dam and received a response from an Eastern Screech-Owl.  Later we tried the western end of the property and obtained another two responses!

September 13, 2012

At civil twilight, Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I drove over to North Sterling Reservoir (Logan).  Most of our morning was spent walking the southern side of the State Park.

The southern woods produced sightings of a Barn Owl (possibly two), Tennessee Warbler, Cassin's Vireo and 7+ Townsend's Warblers.

Later a Red-naped Sapsucker was discovered at the Campgrounds.  The only uncommon birds at the picnic area were another 2 Townsend's Warblers.

Back in Sterling, we stopped at several locations.  Neither the Columbine Park nor the cemetery hosted any uncommon birds.

Overland Park on the east side of town was a hot spot.  We did not find any of our target birds (cuckoos), however came across a Magnolia Warbler, Blue-headed Vireo and 2 Townsend's Warblers.

An "empidonax flycatcher" kept our attention for about an hour.  It appeared to be an Alder Flycatcher (in color and shape).  Unfortunately, while it "hawked" insects during our watch, it never made a sound.

Our birding day ended at Pioneer Park on the west side of town.  We saw another 2 Townsend's Warblers and a 1st year American Redstart.  At dusk, an Eastern Screech-Owl responded to our recordings!

September 14, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I continued our eastern Colorado Plains trip.  Instead of our usual trip up to Logan and Sedgwick Counties to visit Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area and Jumbo, we decided on a different route and drove Highway 6 east into Phillips.

It is/was a little early to search for Sprague's Pipits (however, while our early date is 9/14, most early sightings are in the last week of September and most sightings in October).  It was too late to try for an earlier "first date" so we skipped that hunt.

The Akron Golf Course was quiet.  The same was said about Haxtun City Park.  Holyoke was a different matter and quite birdy.

Three Townsend's Warblers were found at the Holyoke Cemetery (a good place to visit early in the morning).

Holyoke City Park was jumping with birds.  Uncommon birds included a Blackburnian Warbler and Least Flycatcher (seemed out of range).  Red-breasted Nuthatches (also possibly out of range), White-breasted Nuthatches, a pair of Red-naped Sapsuckers, a couple of Wilson's Warblers and Yellow-rumped Warblers were also added to our day list.

We continued south and stopped to check up on two friend's yards in Wray.  Two male, a female Northern Cardinals, and a continuing Harris's Sparrow were seen.  The Harris's Sparrow has been around all of 2012 (first seen in November 2011).

A three mile side trip to Stalker Pond did not find any uncommon birds.  The resident male Northern Cardinal did put in an appearance.  We could not find the resident Barn Owl.

We continued south and stopped at Beecher Island.  I always enjoy this place if not just for its history.  My old tennis pal, Terry C. Johnson incorporated Beecher Island in one of his western novels about Eastern Colorado.  The place where old Roman Nose Indian Chief met his end.

Birding was spectacular today.  We eventually found a Chestnut-sided Warbler, Black-and-white Warbler, Summer Tanager, Eastern Phoebe, 4+ Red-bellied Woodpeckers, and several Field Sparrows.  Be sure to check it out if in the general area.

No Common Poorwills were found around Hale Ponds after sunset.  While Bryan set up camp, Jerry Petrosky and I decided to walk from the Kansas border to Highway 385 (about miles).

Our final Eastern Screech-Owl count was only five, which surely would have been higher during mating season.  Jerry and I already plan make the trek again next spring.

We did not have to walk back.  A quick phone call to Bryan got us a ride back to camp.

September 15, 2012

Bryan Ehlmann, Jerry Petrosky and I enjoyed a great day of weather and birding on Colorado's Eastern Plains.

Bryan and I birded three hours around Hale Ponds while Jerry caught a few hours sleep after last nights trek.  A dawn, we were able to lure an Eastern Screech-Owl to respond to our recordings (it was first heard last night).

A Northern Waterthrush was found along the Republican River about 400 yards from the Kansas border.  A pair of Red-bellied Woodpeckers was along Yuma County Road 4 (just south of the eastern Hale Pond).

Finally, Jerry joined us and we headed to Bonny Reservoir.  A Harris's Sparrow was in a wood pile along County Road 4.  A Barn Owl was found at his usual location (building).

The male Northern Cardinal and 2 Townsend's Warblers were at Fosters Grove Campgrounds.

We then walked from Foster's Grove to Highway 385 (and back, along the northern edge of the woods to the west and in the middle of the woods and the return trip).  Only a few birds were found.  However, they included a Magnolia Warbler, Western Wood-pewee (possible Eastern Wood-Pewee?), Wilson's Warblers, Townsend's Warbler, Red-naped Sapsucker, Red-breasted Nuthatches, Blue Jays, and "empidonax flycatcher".

Our final stop was the Hopper Ponds area (hoping for an uncommon sparrow).  Only Vesper, Lark and Song Sparrows, however, a Blue-headed Vireo offered a great contrast with a Cassin's Vireo.

We stopped for an hour at Fairview Cemetery in Burlington (Kit Carson County).  No Pine Warblers were found today.  Consolation sightings included a Blue-headed Vireo, Summer Tanager and 4+ Townsend's Warblers.

On the way back to Denver, we detoured to Flagler Reservoir (Kit Carson).  A Cassin's Vireo, Black-and-white Warbler, and Northern Waterthrush were found along the eastern side of the lake.

At dusk, we found yet another Eastern Screech-Owl (below the dam).

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