Friday, January 18, 2013

Searching for Snow Buntings in Weld County

January 16, 2013

Richard Stevens:

Yesterday, Bill Schmoker found a Snow Bunting up my favorite Weld County Road (CR 45, north of CR 122) for sightings.  Rebecca Kosten and I headed up that way just before sunrise.

A brief stop at Crow Valley Campground did not find any owls.  We looked around the Washington Work Center also, no owls.

A drive up CR 45 north of CR 122 did not find any Snow Buntings.  We stopped at ranch homes of two friends just to reconnect.  My friends are getting up in age (90+) and are leery of visitors, so I do not advertise their locations.  Six Gray-crowned Rosy Finches visited one of the ranches from January 1 to 6!

Next we visited by second favorite location for Snow Bunting sightings.  A gravel road heading west from CR 39 at approximately one mile north of the USDA Central Plains Experimental Range Office.

We walked west to Owl Creek.  From the top of the hill, looking west to Owl Creek, we found our prize.  A Snow Bunting flew back and forth along the dry creek bed (accompanied by dozens of Horned Larks and two Lapland Longspurs).

A trek took us down to Owl Creek and we followed it for about a mile south.  Short-eared Owls have been found here in at least four of the past ten years.  We also hiked about 1/2 mile toward of our entry onto the creek.  A Great Horned Owl was in the cottonwoods just south of the private property line.

Then, Rebecca and I continued driving the gravel county roads north of the Pawnee National Grasslands.  No additional Snow Buntings were found.  Raptors were plentiful; 3 Golden Eagles, 7 Red-tailed Hawks, 4 Rough-legged Hawks, 2 Prairie Falcons, 5 American Kestrels and a Great Horned Owl!

Nothing uncommon was found around the small town of Grover.  "Plains" Sharp-tailed Grouse were once found just west of town.  I believe these were part of a re-introduction project.  None has been reported for the past 2 or 3 years.

In Sterling, we took brief walks around Pioneer Park (west side of town) and Overland Park (east side of town).  No Eastern Screech-Owls or uncommon birds were found.

We passed by Tamarack Ranch Wildlife Area (Logan) after sunset.  Two Eastern Screech-Owls responded to my recordings (around sections 5-7 East).

No comments: