Saturday, November 24, 2012

Trip Around Morgan and Weld Counties

November 23, 2012

Jerry Petrosky;

Richard Stevens and I birded in Morgan and Weld Counties.  We wanted to explore as many WIAs as possible in the nine and a half hours of daylight.  As a result, most of the public birding areas, reservoirs and parks usually searched were skipped today.  The day was colder than average but still nice for this time of year.

We arrived at Brush Wildlife Area in Morgan County 30 minutes before sunrise.  The resident Eastern Screech Owls could not be found.  A male Red-bellied Woodpecker called from the northwest corner of the Wildlife Area.  As Richard says, the area was very quiet.

We walked as quickly as possible over seven WIAs south of Brush.  Because of our limited daylight, our emphasis was in areas that the "major" creek, Beaver Creek ran through.  Although the creek is dry, it provides some riparian areas where migrating birds may use.

The WIAs east of Highway 71, mostly between Morgan County Roads I and C fit this requirement.  Few rare birds were found.  Mostly Horned Larks and longspurs were found.  Lapland Longspurs were the majority, in fact all but one McCown's Longspur.

A Field Sparrow for Morgan County was at WIA 33-C.
Savannah Sparrows were found at 31-H and 33-B
A late Grasshopper Sparrow was found at 15-F

After a quick lunch in Brush, we continued north along Highway 71 and stopped at nine of the twenty-seven WIAs north of Highway 34 and south of Hwy 14.  The WIAs were split about 50:50 between Morgan and Weld Counties.

Horned Larks out numbered any other species of birds.  Most of the WIAs here were grasslands with little riparian area.  Lapland Longspurs were the only representatives of their family.

We did find any Savannah Sparrow at WIA 31-JJ; which is in Morgan County.

To summarize, our only "Ammodramus" sparrow was the Grasshopper Sparrow in Morgan County.

Historically, Baird's and Henslow's Sparrows are seen in October (no November records), while Le Conte's Sparrow sightings peak in November and December.  Reference: November, 2012 "Colorado Field Notes".

Le Conte's Sparrows are usually reported in marshy areas with cattails.  We did not come upon such a habitat all day.  Although we kept our hopeful, eyes open to a possible sighting.

Raptors included three Prairie Falcons, two Merlin, many Red-tailed Hawks, many Rough-legged Hawks and a few American Kestrels throughout the day.

I enjoyed the company and exploring areas not visited before!  Thanks Richard!

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