Saturday, December 22, 2012

A Great Day Birding Along the Front Range

December 18, 2012

Richard Stevens:

I was not able to join the CoBus trip to Southeastern Colorado this year because of commitments elsewhere.  This morning, I made a quick trip down to Colorado Springs (El Paso County) to pick up a couple of "personal first county sightings"

The Acorn Woodpecker was still around Willow Circle (as described by Marty Wolf and birders last week).

Finding the Palm Warbler at Colorado College at Colorado Springs was more difficult.  It took over an hour to relocate the elusive warbler.  Finally, I found the bird east of Palmer Hall.

I did not want to return to Denver in rush hour traffic (Palm Warbler search took too long and traffic through the Denver Tech Center and DIA Airport is a nightmare between 3:00 pm and 7:00 pm) and decided to skip searching for the Varied Thrush along Platte River Road in Jefferson County.

Instead, I rushed through the metro area and stopped at Barr Lake (Adams) for another chance at photos of the "red race" Fox Sparrow.

Unfortunately, when I arrived a couple of birders also were getting out of their car and going over to the Visitor's Center.  They stood within 15 feet of where I would have expected the Fox Sparrow to appear.  That is when they were not walking within 2 feet of the path and looking underneath the bushes.  Really, can anyone expect the bird to come to the area when they are so close?  Really?

I waited in my car for 40 minutes (giving them 45 before leaving).  Fortunately, they left just before my patience ran out.  After they departed, I went over to the path and sprinkled down some seed.  They I sat 60 feet away waiting for the birds. 

Within 5 minutes, six Dark-eyed Juncos appeared, then two American Tree Sparrows and a Black-capped Chickadee, all eating the seeds on the ground.

Within 10 minutes, two White-crowned Sparrows came by.  Then at 21 minutes, the Fox Sparrow came and stayed for 30 minutes!

Every birder has techniques to finding birds.  One must use those that work for them.  Almost all of us have binoculars, which allow us to see for quite a distance.  Standing next to a bush in which one wants a bird to appear, most likely is not a good technique.

I have also found that when putting down some seed, it is better to throw down loose and wide spread.  Piles of seed attract Red-winged Blackbirds, House Sparrows and squirrels.  Works for me, quite often!

On the way home, I drove the DIA Owl Loop.  No Short-eared Owls appeared tonight.  A couple of Northern Harriers and a Red-tailed Hawk represented raptors.

After dark, I met up with Warren Shin and we drove to the western side of Denver to check several previous locations of Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We walked Highway 93 from the Southern Red Rocks Park entrance to Morrison and back, no Northern Pygmy-Owls.

A drive through Golden Gate Canyon State Park (Jefferson County) also did not find any Northern Pygmy-Owls.  We did hear a Great Horned Owl calling.

Finally, we checked White Ranch Open Space (Jefferson).  This time a Northern Pygmy-Owl responded to our recordings (near its traditional location).

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