Saturday, December 22, 2012

Another Trip to North Park

December 19-21, 2012

Richard Stevens:

December 19, 2012

Warren Shin and I headed to the mountains early this morning.  We beat the snowstorm in Denver by leaving early.  However, it was snowing in Clear Creek and Summit Counties.

Thirty eight+ Barrow's Goldeneyes were on the Blue River Water Treatment Plant.

After wandering around looking for Rosy Finches and other mountain species we went back to Loveland Pass by way of Keystone.  From there, we snowshoed up to Loveland Pass.

Along the way we found a pair of White-tailed Ptarmigan twice.  The "easiest" pair to relocate was east of the first pullover on the west side of Highway 6, south of Loveland Pass' Summit.

In late afternoon, we returned to Dillon for lunch/dinner and then headed toward Steamboat Springs hoping for better weather on Thursday.

After dark, Warren and I drove down Highway 14 (3 miles east and west of Cameron Pass) and listened for Boreal Owls.  Winds were 22+ mph with gusts to 34 mph.  Hearing anything but the wind was quite difficult.  Two Boreal Owls were eventually found within 1.5 miles west of Cameron Pass' Summit.

December 20, 2012

At first light, Warren Shin and I sat (in the car, it was 10 degrees) along Jackson County Road 26.  We should have figured out it was too cold for grouse also.  We drove up and down CR 26 finding only Horned Larks.  Returning to our parking spot, two Greater Sage-Grouse were spotted walking through the snow covered sage.

Later we drove into Routt County and found a flock of 4+ Sharp-tailed Grouse!

A walk along the Yampa River Riverwalk was quite productive.  A flock of 20+ Bohemian Waxwings was not far from the 9th Street Bridge.

Later, no Crossbills could be found along Rabbit Ears Pass.  A female American Three-toed Woodpecker down the road to the maintenance shed and cabins was a nice consolation!  Then we returned to the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center. 

Several times a flock of 150+ Rosy Finches came to the feeders behind the Visitor's Center.  Most were Gray-crowned Rosy Finches.  A dozen or so Brown-capped Rosy Finches and one Black Rosy Finch were also seen.

An hour before dark, we strapped on snowshoes and headed into the Colorado State Forest.  The moon was only about 1/4 full; however, it lit up the forest quite a bit.  Fortunately, winds tonight were mild for that area.  A few Cassin's Finches calling and our breathing were about the only sounds heard.

Finally, after trekking about 6 miles into the Colorado State Forest, we found two Boreal Owls up Ruby Jewell Road (at about 0.6 miles from Michigan Creek Road). 

December 21, 2012

We returned from our night snowshoe trek about civil twilight and tried to get a few hours of sleep.

Warren Shin and I headed back to Rabbit Ears Pass after first stopping at the Colorado State Forest Visitor's Center.  Again, a flock of about 150+ Rosy Finches came to the feeders.  This time no Black Rosy Finches were among the flock.

The American Three-toed Woodpecker found yesterday was not relocated.  We put on snowshoes and made a 4 mile loop into the forest (east of the maintenance shed/cabin road).

Later, to rest our legs, we walked another 4 miles along highway 14 (about a mile either side of Rabbit Ears Pass' Summit).  We picked opposite sides of the highway.  Warren yelled out, CROSSBILL.  I rushed over to see a male White-winged Crossbill perched on top of a Lodgepole Pine Tree (located just east of the Grand/Jackson County Line). 

The male White-winged Crossbill stayed for quite a while and then flew west into Grand County (thanks! We were able to list the bird in both counties).  Warren thought he saw a female White-winged Crossbill following the male; unfortunately, I was not able to get my binoculars on her.

As we returned east, we had an unsatisfactory meal in Walden (I will do them a favor and not mention the name of the biggest restaurant in town).

Our final target of the trip was a Northern Pygmy-Owl.  We stopped at every Campground and Picnic Area along Highway 14 from Cameron Pass to Fort Collins.  Regrettably, no Northern Pygmy-Owls could be found.

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