Wednesday, November 21, 2012

White-tailed Ptarmigan and American Three-toed Woodpecker Search

November 18, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I took five out of state birders up to Guanella Pass for a Ptarmigan and American Three-toed Woodpecker search.  Temperatures were in the 40s; winds "quiet" at 8-10 mph (sometimes they reach into the 40 mph range; one trip I measured 60+ mph).

We split into groups and two and covered the area quite well in the next FOUR hours.  I was about to call it a day, when Bob Thames (Missouri) called on the radio "I got two!"  He was 300+ yards southeast of the Rosalie & 603 trails. 

We must have covered the area at least three times without a sighting.  The pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan was sitting on a small patch of snow, buried deep in three foot willows.  At least they were all able to see one!

Guanella Pass Campgrounds did not have one bird.  No American Three-toed Woodpeckers, no Mountain Chickadees, no Pine Grosbeaks, zero.  It was difficult to believe nothing was in the area.

We continued back to Denver by way of Grant.  Most of the businesses in Grant are now "out of business".  I will miss the owner of the Grant store.  She was a little odd (are not we all?) but had some great stories to tell.  She kept me apprised of the status of Guanella Pass throughout the year.  I wish her well, wherever she is?

Pine Valley Ranch Park (Jefferson) is only a six mile detour off highway 285.  We decided on a Three-toed Woodpecker search.  I hoped for an "easy sighting" as my last three trips have required long hikes (and missed on two of them).

Today was no different, as we had to hike up the Buck Gulch Trail to the Strawberry Jack Trail past the Parkview Trail intersection.  We spread out and eventually I found a male American Three-toed Woodpecker 100 yards east of the Strawberry Jack Trail at 300 yards south of the Parkview Trail.

A Northern Pygmy-Owl sighting would have been nice but was not to be.  We definitely got in our exercise today.

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